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Inclusion Now Articles Issue 30

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Visiting Seely Infants School

Get Ready for Disability History Month

Reversing the Bias towards Segregation

1981 Education Act Turns 30

Here Come the Vipers!

Village to City and Back Again

Inclusive Practice Around the World #2

Introducing Quiet Riot

Legal Question No. 4

Review - Index for Inclusion



Visiting Seely Infants School

On a cold and icy day, our group which was made up of two parents (one from France and one from Italy), two professionals (one a disabled person from England and one from France) and a disabled learner from Italy arrived at Seely Infants School. We came to Seely because it has a reputation for putting initiatives around inclusion into practice beyond just having a principled commitment.
 
All our visits were aimed to be relaxed and informative and not to feel like inspections as we were there to learn and see inclusive education in action.
 
In spite of the weather the school was fully operational and we had a very warm welcome. We were expecting to spend a short time with the Co-Head teachers Jacqui Newton & Sally Clarke at the beginning of the day and then maybe spending the rest of the time with other staff.  But they both saw the visit as a good opportunity to stand back for a few hours and reflect on the schools practice through our questions and interactions with the children and teaching staff.
There was a huge amount of the children's creativity on every inch of wall space which reflected the diversity of the pupils, their different backgrounds and individuality regardless of ability.
 
The class I visited taught by Mrs Nijran had about 24 pupils in it.  I had an opportunity to explain to the children about our visit and when I asked if they had any questions more than half of their hands confidently shot up as they were keen to find out more. They were busy happily making Christmas cards and working together in small groups enjoying themselves.
 
There was lots of rehearsal going on for the nativity play which involved disabled and non-disabled children together. The way the staff and the children interacted was almost seamless so that disabled children getting additional support did not stand out from the crowd. Receiving additional support can be an excluding experience for young people when the focus is only on meeting practical needs and not fully understanding the need to belong and take part as equals. We felt all the teaching staff understood this principle.
The playground was icy and it was not a day for the outdoors, but it had been developed to make it accessible and fun for all the children. Everyone in the group of visitors liked the idea of the friendship stop where children if they wanted to could easily highlight that they wanted to be noticed and were looking to connect with other children.
 
There was an easy connection and familiarity between the co-head teachers, the children and parents who were confident about approaching them. They are clearly not remote figures of authority and are seen as being approachable and available to parents and children alike.
 
The Italian members of our group remarked on the high level of involvement of parents in the school with the Parent liaison worker being a parent of a child in the school, the involvement of parents in reading together with children (including importantly dads) and the obvious involvement more broadly in the school. In Italy, parents tend to be kept at the school gate!
The Head Teachers explained how difficult it can be for schools that have a policy of welcoming all children whatever their difference and level of need, when it comes to inspection. OFSTED inspection questionnaires have a small number of questions/ weighting around inclusion. In accommodating all children, schools often only receive good or satisfactory status when some children whilst learning at their own pace do not excel in a 'one shoe fits all' type of testing process.
 
Everyone seemed to benefit from having a Children's Centre on site, particularly in the winter, providing additional back up to children and parents. The Centre was also very welcoming and friendly and there was a strong relationship with the school.
 
The entire group expressed their pleasure that we were allocated such a great school to visit and it helped them hugely to see a school that could demonstrate a high level of inclusion for everyone.

I for one wished we could have stayed longer and when there is so much negative press about education I left wondering if I had missed a great career as a teacher!
Kevin Caulfield


Get Ready for Disability History Month

Celebrating Our Struggle for Equality 22nd November to 22nd December

The Right to Work
The National League of the Blind became the first formal disabled people's organisation campaigning for employment and inclusive education. Doctors increasingly claimed the lives of disabled people as the 'medical model' dominated. We were categorised by our impairments. Veterans returning from war and blind workers rejected this labelling, which led to poverty. They fought for the right to work in the 1920s and 1930s. Today 3.5million disabled people are in open employment supported by Access to Work.

The Right to Independent Living
The independent living movement won a victory in 1972 that would eventually improve living conditions for disabled people around the world. Ed Roberts and his associates firstly formed the Disabled Students Association at University of California, Berkeley campus in 1970 and a year later established the Centre for Independent living for students and the wider disabled community in Berkley. Today there are independent living centres around the world.

The Right to Mobility
Len Tasker of Coventry Disabled Drivers Association was one of the very few on the delegation to Prime Minister Edward Heath in 1973 that persuaded the Government to give  up the dangerous three wheeler in exchange for Motability and adapted ordinary cars. Motability is the largest hire fleet in  Europe - paid by Disability Living Allowance. Today DLA is under threat from Government cuts as is our mobility.

The Right to Education
Up until 1973 children with significant learning difficulties were classed ineducable. The 1981 Act introduced the idea of the integration of a wide range of disabled pupils. People First a self-advocacy group of people with learning difficulties argued they were people with learning difficulties and not mentally handicapped and that the education system should adapt to meet their needs rather than them being adapted to meet the education systems needs. ALLFIE was born out of such arguments.

Ensure schools, colleges, workplaces and communities learn about our struggle for rights and support us in our struggle to keep them. Organise an event in your community, workplace or school. Use resources from the website to support you. www.ukdisabilityhistorymonth.com

Contact UKDHM Coordinator Richard Rieser for speakers and resources. Let us know what you have planned and what you did. rlrieser@gmail.com  0207 359 2855 

Reversing the Bias Towards Segregation

Lizzie McPhee reports on a demonstration held this June  in Westminster.
June 29th. It was a beautiful day. I wore my favourite shiny purple shoes. The sky was powder blue covering many of my favourite people walking beside me. We sang, we laughed, and we took funny photos, many jokes, lots of fun, more chatter, cake, tea - a family festival atmosphere. A great day?

Beneath the laughter and floating balloons lay the very painful, caustic reality for disabled people and their families - beginning in education and continuing through much of life.

And we laugh because we have to, "What a laugh this inclusion is", what choice do we have but to crease doubled over in hysterics, when a Tory Party, now the dominant part of this governing people, states in their manifesto that they want to reverse the bias towards inclusion. Of course they do.

But excuse me, hello, what's to reverse? How far did we get? Really? For my child, and many others, inclusion in mainstream school was a dream, not a reality. For the lucky few.
Many people for whom inclusion has been a reality, and I mean by inclusion an appropriate education, not just a holding service, have been blessed with inspired professional individuals, tenacious parents with wills of iron, and  maybe at least one tribunal or even a trip to the high court under their belts. Easy.

And as I am writing this now I am already aware that  I must sound negative which is 'bad' for a mother of a disabled child who should be all accepting and nice, nice, nice. Naughty lady, you are the mother of a child with an impairment, one must provide hope for the future, you have to make cakes, jam, and smile and believe things will change for our young people who will be 'cured' of all their impairments and then be allowed into all the free schools and academies!!!! Yes, I must be positive. Positivity breeds change. Or does it?

As I sit in many meetings with the local council and parents of children with SEN (Special Educational Needs) I hear the same words over - "things take time", or they need "more confidence" to work with our children - as a viable excuse not to accommodate our children.
Well my thoughts back to you are - can you use these excuses in a court of law for breaking the DDA Act 2004, 2005 amended or the Equality Act 2010?  Can you?

Or the Human Rights Act? Or the Children Act 1989 that talks of the interest of the child being paramount?
Or Article 26 of the Human Rights Act that states our parents have the right to choose how and what we learn?  Or the Code of Practice that insists on parental choice? What choice?

We cannot choose. In my own experience and that of many other parents of children with SEN - the system chooses to treat our children as nuisances that should be reprimanded and cast out. The national exclusion stats speak for themselves.

Where is the parental choice when eight mainstream schools turned down my son because he was on the autistic spectrum?

Where are his human rights when he is locked away from all the other children and followed to the toilet with a walkie talkie, restrained most days, because at age 7 and weighing 19kg he is deemed too dangerous to be with other children? And that's in a school who advertise themselves as Inclusive!

What's to reverse when 86% of all primary school exclusions are of children with SEN. And where's the inclusion when 24% of autistic children have been excluded from school.
So I say to you mighty coalition, think very carefully before you talk about reversing.  We haven't even got to first gear. We marched beautifully as kind people but we are tired of being nice and understanding and waiting for ours and our children's equality. What we need now is a JUDICIAL REVIEW of the whole non inclusive system.

We need to hold you to account, you people in power, for not delivering on your laws that you make. You pay lip service to inclusion and patronise our young people into thinking because they are disabled they cannot be equal or contribute as much or more that the rest of society. Wake up and look at what's really happening.

Our time will come, we are in the wings waiting, so shift your gear sticks, quickly, before your discriminatory education system costs you even more in excluding practices than it already does. Approximately £300 million per annum due to the inefficient education of young people with SEN (prisons, probation and school exclusions) that's an awful lot of money that could be spent on what? More balloons?

Navin Kikabhai, Senior Lecturer at University of Bedfordshire, set out to survey the general public’s opinion as the demonstration was going round Westminster Square. He found that people were keen to engage in discussion. Here is a small snapshot of his findings:

When asked whether they thought there should be separate schools for disabled young people, just under half the participants strongly disagreed. Around a third of participants were undecided and less than a quarter agreed. No participant strongly agreed.

Three quarters of those surveyed said that they would not go to a Special School if they had the choice, the remaining quarter said that they would.

Almost all of the participants felt that disabled people are discriminated against when in education and all participants felt that disabled people are discriminated against in the workplace.

Just under half of all participants could name a disabled role model and the same number had come across a health professional who was a disabled person.


1981 Education Act Turns 30

On 30th October 2011 it will be 30 years since the 1981 Education Act was passed. The Act gave parents a right, for the first time, to state a preference for a supported mainstream school placement for their disabled child. 
 
This important anniversary gives us a really positive opportunity to be proactive and engage constructively with politicians and education providers about the benefits of inclusive education practice for everyone - for young people, their families, educators and the community as a whole.
  
The 1981 Education Act was initiated by the Conservative Party, with support from Labour and the Liberal Democrats.   Since then, initiatives to strengthen disabled children's rights to participate in mainstream education have been supported by both the House of Commons and the House of Lords.   It feels very timely then to remind politicians about this history of collaborative working by giving them an opportunity to show their support for inclusive education practice by marking this very important anniversary.

Starting from 30th October, we want to increase and broaden our support base by re-launching the ‘We Know Inclusion Works’ campaign.  The ‘We Know Inclusion Works’ campaign was first launched in 2008 in response to a number of articles and reports suggesting that inclusion of disabled young people in mainstream education was a “human rights abuse”! The campaign gathered together four volumes of stories from children and young people, families, teachers and others, about their positive experiences of inclusion - proving that it works!

So for the 30th anniversary we want politicians to do something positive  to show their commitment to inclusive education. Politicians can show their support by signing ALLFIE's Early Day Motion - the EDM already has widespread support from organisations and individuals working across the education sector so please contact your MP and get them to sign up.

We would also like the same MPs to support ALLFIE's Inclusive Education Manifesto which is available at: http://www.allfie.org.uk/pages/
work/campaigns.html 
 
If you need a hard copy of ALLFIE's manifesto then please contact the office. 
ALLFIE's Early Day Motion

"That this House recognises the significant progress that has been made in the 30 years since the Education Act 1981 passed through Parliament with all-party support; notes that through an effective partnership between parents, schools, children and young people, education professionals and local authorities, inclusive education practice has made a significant contribution to improving the lives of disabled and non-disabled children; and believes that this legislation has played an important and positive role in building a society that values diversity and enables disabled people to realise their aspirations and make a positive contribution to society."

We also want people to write directly to Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Education to ask him to support the progress that has been made over the last 30 years in the development of Inclusive Education. Here's a letter you could use - don't forget to let us know if you get a reply!

“Dear Michael Gove
I/We are asking you to confirm your commitment to the inclusion of disabled children and young people in all mainstream schools.
30 years ago the Conservative Government passed the 1981 Education Act which for the first time gave parents the right to state a preference for a supported mainstream school placement for their disabled child. Since then increasing numbers of parents have chosen mainstream school placements for their disabled children. This has encouraged mainstream schools to seek out and develop some excellent inclusive education practice and to stretch their aspiration for the disabled children and young people. None of this would have happened without the 1981 law. 
(It would be good to include your story.)
I/We would like the Government to build on these successes  by improving the rights of parents and disabled young people to seek a mainstream education and to build the capacity of all mainstream schools to develop excellent inclusive education practice so they are able to truly welcome a diversity of learners.  
Yours sincerely
Name”

If you want to get involved in other activities to celebrate inclusion and the 30th anniversary here are some ideas:

You could organise a community meeting / event to talk about inclusive education which your MP can be invited to attend - this would be a chance for local parents and young people to share their stories AND for your MP to commit to challenging any Government plans to stop the progress towards inclusion.

You could arrange a visit with your MP or some local councillors to a local mainstream school that you know is committed to inclusion.

You could make an appointment to see your local MP at his / her constituency office to talk about inclusion - don't forget to take the ALLFIE Manifesto and the EDM so you can encourage them to sign up.

For further information on the 30th Anniversary of the 1981 Education Act have a look at our campaigns briefing on the ALLFIE website: http://www.allfie.org.uk/pages/work/press.html

Feel free to download a copy and spread the word!
Simone Aspis


Here Come the Vipers!

What is VIPER?
VIPER stands for Voice, Inclusion, Participation Empowerment, Research, and it is the name of our young researchers group. The young researchers group came up with the name as a group as they felt it  reflected all that they hope the project is about. The group of young researchers work with researchers from The Children's Society and the National Children's Bureau to look at the participation of disabled children and young people in the development of services.

About the Project
The research project is funded by The Big lottery Fund and is a three-year project that is exploring the most effective ways of enabling the participation of disabled children and young people in the development of services in England.  The project is being led by a consortium of NCB Research, The Council for Disabled Children (CDC), the Alliance for Inclusive Education (ALLFIE), and the Children's Society.

The project aims to:

Map the ways in which young disabled people are currently involved in decisions          by services about strategic and operational issues;

Explore the impacts and benefits of young disabled people's participation and understand the barriers to effectively involving young disabled people  in decisions

Identify good practice and to understand, from the perspectives of young disabled people and services, what works in supporting participation;

Develop tools and good practice guidance with young disabled people to support participation of young disabled people in decisions about services.

The Role of the Young Researchers
At the heart of the project is the VIPER group, which consists of 16 young disabled people, aged 12 to 22, from across England. They meet regularly in London to develop their research skills and to advise the project team. In addition to the research sessions, the VIPER young researchers have also done work around identity and disability rights.

The young researchers are heavily involved in the research process. They have recently been shortlisting case studies of good practice and developing the questions that managers, project workers and young people using services should be asked.

The young researchers also advise the project about communicating with other young disabled people, where the research needs to focus its attention and how to make the research process more accessible. The young researchers will shortly be embarking on fieldwork for the research interviewing participation projects across England alongside researchers from the consortium.
Zara Todd

Village to City and Back Again

I'm Sam, one of the young researchers involved with ALLFIE's VIPER project. I'm going to write about our last meeting, but don't worry it's not like those boring meetings with the local authority. For one thing the people at it are not idiots obsessed with cutting services!

I'm from a beautiful, peaceful (Boring!) village on the edge of the Lake District. It’s fine for holidays, but when you've lived here all your life and all you can do is look at the views, London is a great relief. I travelled down with my super cool helper and mate, Chloe and my mum on the train. I didn't notice what I saw on the journey, too busy chatting with Chloe. As usual, I was amazed at how many people were in the entrance hall to Euston station. Seriously, it had way more people in there than my whole village.

The next morning, we got up very early (which is normal for me) and we set off to the ALLFIE meeting place. I was pleased to see Zara and the guys again, this was our third meeting. After we had chatted and caught up, the meeting started.

We discussed ideas about what we want from our services e.g. age-appropriate activities, not everyone under 19 being lumped together.           I was sent a leaflet from the Local Authority inviting me on a bus trip to Ducky Park Farm. Apart from it obviously being not for teenagers, who would want to hang around with a bus full of people you don't know?

One of the best things about going to ALLFIE is sharing experiences. It can feel like you're the only kid who ever had trouble with learning support, teachers, or other kids when you go to a mainstream school. You soon find out you're not.

Another great thing is meeting all the cool young adults with disabilities who run ALLFIE. Meeting them has inspired me to think "I can do that!!"

As always, I get back home completely shattered but happy. I'm getting so much from ALLFIE, confidence and new mates, but if I were to list them all, it would take up all the mag!
Sam, aged 14



Inclusive Practice Around the World #2

Article 24 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities requires the nations of the World to develop an inclusive education system at all levels, where children and students with disabilities can be part of their local school alongside their non-disabled peers, provided with the right support and accommodations to develop academically and socially.

So far 105 countries have ratified. How is implementation going? We should engage in restructuring our education systems to make this a reality, as everyone benefits and our societies are stronger and more democratic as a result. The recent World Health Organisation ‘World Report on Disability’ identified that 15% of the world population are disabled (1 billion people) which gives this goal a greater priority.

Brazil
Inequalities in the conditions of access to education and in educational performances are very evident among Brazilian children, young people and adults. Brazil is a country with a large population of 203 million (26% of whom are 14 years and under) with a 10% economic growth rate, and a government committed to reducing poverty and equalising the gap between rich and poor. Education, and in particular inclusive education, is one of their chosen strategies.

The Federal Government organises the system, finances public education institutions and exercises a redistributive function to guarantee equalisation of educational opportunities and a minimum quality standard. The Cities have the main responsibility for early years and primary education. Since 2008 this is for all 6-14 year olds with pre-school 0-5. Article 7 required the care of all students with SEN to be realised in ordinary classes of regular education.

In 2007 the Ministry of Education launched the Educational Development Plan (PDE). This includes 40 programs or actions to reduce social exclusion and cultural marginalisation. A big focus is on improving literacy and preventing drop out with guaranteed minimum wages and hours for teachers, guaranteed one-thirds non-contact time, libraries and books. Most crucially for the inclusion of disabled students is the installation of Multifunctional Resource Rooms. The rooms are earmarked for regular state schools, equipped with television, computers with printers, scanners and webcam; DVD and software for accessibility; furniture and educational and pedagogical material specific to Braille, sign language LIBRAS, augmentative and alternative communication, among other resources of assistive technology for offering a complementary, specialised education service. This has been accompanied by a massive training programme for teachers and administrators. At the Conference of State Parties of UNCRPD, New York, in September 2010 it was reported that 22,000 had been installed and Brazil would meet its target of 30,000 by 2011. In the same meeting it was reported that the Brazilian Government was also supporting mobile classrooms on barges in the Amazon Basin to reach indigenous children out of school.

Bangladesh
Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC) and their related education programme operates in rural areas and supplements Government schools. The target group is the poor, those living in remote areas, girls who have dropped out or never enrolled in primary school, children from ethnic minority groups and children with disabilities. To date 3,115,031 children have graduated from the BRAC primary system and of them 2,876,472 have made the transition to the formal system. In 2006 there were more than 32,000 primary schools serving just under a million children There are an additional 20,000 pre-primary schools serving more than half a million children. A total of 25,000 disabled children are catered for in these schools. In 2003 BRAC set out to include disabled children in its schools. 4 central staff and 14 regional trainers were trained, assistive devices supplied and materials and work produced to develop positive attitudes and access works to schools. Over 2 million children in Bangladesh do not attend school, but programmes like BRAC make a big difference.
(Ryan, A. ,Jennings, J. ,White, J, (2007) BRAC Education Programme)

Samoa 
Donna Lene, principal of ‘SENESE Inclusive Education’ has been working in Samoa for 20 years to develop education for disabled children. When a school embarks on an Inclusive Education process, that school commits to change. The changes are many and from all levels within the school:- in how a principal enrols all students, changes in how a class teacher sets up group work in the classroom and changes in how the school community engages with all families including those who have a child with a disability. This has been the case for close to 75 schools in Samoa that SENESE Inclusive Education Support Services, funded under the AusAID Inclusive Education Demonstration Program have witnessed. SENESE has produced some really useful low tech guides for working with children with different impairments:
http://www.seneseinclusiveedu.ws/index.php?option=
com_content&view=article&id=168&Itemid=160

Tanzania
‘Inclusive Tanzania’, in rural Mwanga District and in Dar es Salaam, aims to strengthen the country's disability movement to hold the government accountable and raise public awareness about the rights of persons with disabilities. Twelve local disability organisations formed the Inclusive Tanzania Consortium (MTAJU in its Kiswahili abbreviation) which 'owns' the project. There are now 14 DPOs and NGOs working jointly towards an inclusive Tanzanian Society.

The community has supported the development of 23 inclusive primary schools - 6 in Dar es Salaam and  17 in rural  Mwanga,  where the district government decreed that all primary schools have to be inclusive. The community assisted in making the schools accessible through contributions and voluntary work (classrooms, toilets, entrances). The structures built up by the project are now continuing after the official end of the project.

UNESCO Specialised Booklet 3: Teaching Children with Disabilities in Inclusive Settings
This very useful guide examines the main range of impairments and provides explanations of the impact of the impairment on learning and then provides useful tips on what to do to overcome barriers to learning and the type of individual adjustments that work. Produced in 2009 this guide gives the specific detail necessary for the inclusion of disabled children so often missing from general guides to inclusive education.
http://icfe.teachereducation.net.pk/resources/res13.pdf

The above examples at different scales show what is possible, but there needs to be a step change in political activity if the twin effects of the recession and increasing privatisation and competition in education are to be countered with collaborative inclusive education to implement Article 24.
Richard Rieser

Introducing Quiet Riot to the World

Just because we don’t speak it doesn’t mean we have nothing to say

A new powerful group of people has been formed, which is calling itself 'Quiet Riot'.
The group is a gathering of people who use 'facilitated' or 'assisted/augmented' communication.

We are at this time nine adults who have been meeting in Manchester and thanks to Joe Whittaker have been able to get together to meet and discuss our purpose in working together.  We are diverse in every way, but share the one important aspect of ourselves, that we need assistance to communicate.

Through discussion over several meetings we have agreed a number of objectives:
To work to get funding to support our group meetings
To campaign for Communication Aids for all people with disabilities
Pure acceptance
Party
To raise awareness of our beautiful minds
To educate the public that because we don't communicate verbally does not mean we are not intelligent
Make friends and influence people
To support each other
Write articles or poems to inspire
PA's to be respected with fair pay and government acknowledgement of this important role.
To give people who can't talk a more public profile
To exchange ideas for what works in training

It is amazing to be with others who need similar assistance and we all have our own ideas about changing the world, so BE READY!

The members of Quiet Riot are:
Judathan Allen (Manchester)
"Special education is a cruel solution to educating people like me". "I was not seen as a thinker with reason until I used typing".

Paul Thomas Allen (Manchester)
"I am Paul-Thomas Allen at 35 I am older and wiser than my brothers.  I am a freelance speaker if you can afford me.  Politics exhilarates my mind, Indie music soothes my ears."

Raphael Allen (Manchester)
"I Raphael love my life because I have God. I also love swimming and bus rides. Freedom is my love I go with the flow."

Gareth Donnellon (Sheffield)
A man of talents and depth with insights and a wit to match.

Anthony Kletzander (Dublin)
“My name is Anthony and I really enjoy roller blading, reading, cycling and the gym. I wish more people were given the chance to use facilitated communication. Being autistic is not being accepted by society. If I am accepted I can have all opportunities that other people have”.

Josh Harris (Manchester)
“I have full control of my mind but not my body; it's really hard to get things to work for me. I may do things that seem strange but there is a reason for everything I do”  Find out more about Josh www.joshuasplanet.com

Chelsea West (Bolton)
I have the world before me now I am typing. Are you ready for my enthusiasm?

Heathar Barrett (Leigh nr; Manchester)
"I have sorrow in my heart for you not learning the proper inclusion of me"."I had mini breath of despair because I thought I had not given it justice” Find out more about Heathar www.heatharashley.com

Maresa Mac Keith (Nottingham)
 “I'm Maresa and I'm passionate about reaching out to other young people who can't talk.  I love writing and that's how I express myself best.  We all need to know more about each other's lives, so the more we are included in mainstream life from birth onwards, the better”.

Get to know more: - www.one-for-all.org.uk
If people would like further information about our group and would like to direct us to funding opportunities, so we can meet and work together more frequently, please contact Joe Whittaker: whittakerjoe5@gmail.com Mobile: 07747 448236
Or write: FAO Quiet Riot
Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People
Business Employment Venture Centre, Aked Close
Ardwick, Manchester M12 4AN


Legal Question - No. 4

“I chose a mainstream school for my son who has missed a lot of school because of his medical condition - which has now improved but he is behind his peers in his learning. The school's response is to provide him - and another child with a statement of SEN - with a Teaching Assistant who delivers all of their literacy and numeracy learning in a separate space, away from the classroom. The class teacher does not seem to know what the TAs are doing. Is this disability discrimination and what can I do to challenge it?”

As the law relating to disability discrimination is such a complex area, it is very difficult to say with any certainty whether you have a claim without looking at the full facts of your case. However, the Equality Act 2010 provides that disabled pupils must not be put at a substantial disadvantage in comparison to other pupils. The school has a duty to make reasonable adjustments to avoid disabled pupils being put at a disadvantage and thus prevent your son from being discriminated against. A reasonable adjustment could include ensuring that your son is being taught by a qualified teacher with the support of a teaching assistant in class and/or additional provision.

In order to fall within the scope of the Equality Act your son must come within the definition of a "disabled person" i.e. he must have a "physical or mental impairment" and "the impairment [must have] a substantial and long-term adverse effect on his ability to perform normal day-to- day activities." Your query doesn't stipulate what your son's medical condition is, but given that he has been issued with a Statement of Educational Needs, it is likely that he would fall within the definition. However, this would need to be explored further.

Any claim for lodging a claim for disability discrimination would be made at the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal and must be made within 6 months of the alleged act of discrimination. Remedies available are an apology, staff training and/or changes in procedures/ policy. The Tribunal cannot order that the school pay you financial compensation.

Part 3 of your son's Statement may provide for a Teaching Assistant to teach your son Literacy and Numeracy for so many hours per week. However, this should be in addition to the Literacy and Numeracy sessions taught by the class teacher. In addition, the class teacher should draw up and oversee any programmes to be delivered by the Teaching Assistant and should be fully aware of your child's progress.

If a qualified teacher is not teaching your son another legal action you may be able to take is a Judicial Review in the High Court. This is because your son is entitled, by law, to be taught by a teacher with Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) and who is registered with the General Teaching Council. An action for Judicial Review must be made promptly and normally within three months of the failure. However, in your case, as the school is continuing to fail to provide a qualified teacher for literacy and numeracy then the deadline for bringing such a claim is ongoing.

Legal action should always be a last resort. From a practical point of view and as an alternative to legal action you should always try to resolve the situation with the school first. If you cannot resolve your concerns through discussions with the school then you could pursue a complaint. You should be provided with a copy of the School Complaints' procedure on request.
Joanne O'Neill
Joanne O’Neill is a Solicitor at Maxwell Gillott.
Maxwell Gillott is a firm of specialist solicitors, providing legal advice and assistance for clients who face difficulties with the key public services of education, health and social services.
www.maxwellgillott.co.uk

If you have any legal questions send them in to Inclusion Now and we will see if we can answer them.


Index For Inclusion - A Resource for Self Evaluation and School Improvement

The Centre for Studies on Inclusive Education (CSIE) has recently launched the third edition of the Index for Inclusion: developing learning and participation in schools (Booth and Ainscow, 2011).
 
The Index is an accessible and practical resource for self-evaluation and school improvement. Ten years after it was first published, the Index remains popular with education practitioners; it has been translated into 37 languages and is being used in more countries throughout the world.

The new edition, substantially revised and expanded, builds upon earlier strengths.  It makes explicit the values that underpin the Index, and invites schools to establish their own values and develop according to these. It also offers a clearer call for schools to integrate initiatives into one cohesive school development plan; it draws together interventions in education to do with environmental sustainability, global citizenship, healthy schools, democracy, values, rights and non-violence.  A major new section sets out an alternative structuring of the curriculum for the 21st century, which is derived from the values presented in the Index and is relevant to all learners.  It offers detailed suggestions for teaching and learning under a range of headings, including: food; water; housing and the built environment; communication and communication technology; and ethics, power and government. 

The revised Index is a versatile resource that can support school development in a variety of ways such as:

The Index can help schools to:

Staff in primary and secondary schools that have worked with the revised Index said:
"Thought provoking, incredibly useful, challenging document."
"It provides an opportunity for people to be honest and improve practice."
"Just reading through makes you think about your practice and the ethos of your school."
"Easy to dip into or read all the way through; it's your self-evaluation done for you but in a far better way."
"The index has a really positive impact on our work.  It made us think more clearly about things we had assumed were in place."
"A no-badge, non box-ticking, supportive system to help with a range of development activities including school reorganisation."
"It is a fantastic tool for sharpening your thoughts and focusing your efforts."

The Index for inclusion is available from all major booksellers or directly from CSIE:
(http://www.csie.org.uk/publications/current.shtml)

Purchasing directly from CSIE at the special rate of £39.50 (RRP £65) helps sustain the charity's efforts towards the development of inclusive education.
Em Williams