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Inclusion Now Articles Issue 6

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Profile of Rachel McMillan Nursery School

A Framework for Inclusion? Government's New SEN Action Plan

BSL An Officially Recognised Language

Inclusion and Assessment - One Award for All. Article by Anne Darby

Barriers - Poem

Personal Assistants and How they Affect My Life - Maresa Mackeith's story

The Inclusion Assistant - A New Role?

Re-Building the Walls of Exclusion - DfES 'Report of the Special Schools Working Group

Whose Meeting is it Anyway? Involving Young People with SEN in Statutory Reviews

The Problem with P-Scales - A Critical Look at 'Progress Scales' used measure the education of children with Learning Difficulties.

Winning Hearts and Minds - an ally challenges parents' fear of inclusion

Kim - Poem

Creating Independence and Inclusion - Review

Buster and the Amazing Daisy - Book Review



An Ordinary Nursery

By Zelda McCollum
Rachel McMillan Nursery School is nestled in a corner of Deptford. Along with several buildings which house the classrooms, or 'shelters' as they are known, it has the most wonderful magical gardens for local children to thoroughly explore and enjoy. It is a truly fabulous place for children to begin their educational journey. Recently I read a piece by Micheline Mason that talked about the struggle to make inclusion an ordinary thing to do. I haven't written about my nursery and the way in which we include all children because it simply is what we do. However I feel I must now share our ordinary practice because I realise how extraordinary it is.
I have worked at this school for the last twelve years. My current Headteacher and I share the vision that all our neighbourhood children regardless of their needs or disabilities should come to our school. In 1994, we wrote our inclusive Special Needs Policy to state this, and have been adhering to it ever since. Children with Autism, Down's Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy and Microencephaly, might have these labels to secure extra support hours and therapy input. But to us these labels disappear when we plan to meet these children's needs in the same way as we do for all the children on our register. It is a shared responsibility and all staff work together as a team. Needs and strategies are identified and planned for.
Over the years, we have had quite a lot of INSET (In Service Training) including contributions from Micheline Mason and Richard Rieser, as well as many others. I'm the school's SENCO, so I'd like to think I've also had some influence. In any case, including disabled children is something that everyone at my school feels is an important thing to do! So consequently EVERYONE works to make it successful. I believe that is why it works so well and is just an ordinary part of our practice. So when Sara couldn't reach the table, several bricks were strapped together to overcome this. She now has an adjustable chair, which enables her to join the others at most activities. The children also naturally join her on her cushions to bang out a tune and have a good laugh together. With the support of our LEA, we have been able to purchase special bicycles, which means Sara and Ayan can zoom all over the garden with their mates.
Many of the children are quick to learn Makaton signing, but they also often find their own ways of communicating, to make sure they are understood by their friends. Most are very sensitive to different needs. They seem to know and easily accept it when another child needs space to just run and shout. And if one of their classmates wanders into the wrong garden, they are quietly guided back to their own class areas.
We have six classes and each class is becoming more and more confident about including a child with significant needs. There are difficulties. We sometimes have tussles with getting the right amount of support, disagreements with our therapists, or problems over transfer. These are problematic, but not insurmountable.
Our relationship with parents is also an important factor which makes our inclusion policy work so well. It isn't always a smooth path, but we work extremely hard together to find solutions to any difficulties as they arise.
Initially the Medical community, GP's, Health Visitors and Therapists, were sceptical about our abilities to meet children's needs. Over the years we have continually received praise as to how well the children have progressed and developed, and how happy they are. Winning medical professionals over is becoming less of an obstacle. It does help to have the thrust of new legislation (SENDA) behind us, as well as LEA policy.
Our school has quite an amazing mixture of people, cultures, languages and abilities. Diversity is something we all truly celebrate and get inspiration from. I suppose sharing this richness is what makes our ordinary nursery quite an extraordinary place to work and learn in and tell others about.
Zelda McCollum
Deputy Headteacher

 

A Framework for Inclusion?

Following the ground breaking Green Paper (1997) which paved the way for a serious move towards Inclusive Education, the Government is attempting to devise a new SEN Action Plan to take things on to the next stage. This will not include new legislation but will build on the introduction of the SEN & Disability Act (SENDA) and all the numerous initiatives they have launched upon the education system over the last few years.
The Action Plan is primarily aimed at improving practice and relates to the recommendations made by the latest Audit Commission Report, 'SEN - a mainstream issue'.
Organisations within the inclusion movement are concerned that there is still great tension between different aspects of the education system, for example, the Governments 'Standards' agenda; the rapid fragmentation of the Comprehensive System; the negative effect of SATs and the publication of League Tables on schools' motivation to include children with difficulties; and the absurd concept that special schools can be part of an inclusive education system.
There is much important work to be done to develop the detail of good inclusive practice on assessment, monitoring, measuring and rewarding pupils progress, transition planning and much else. At the same time there is still much work to be done to underpin all such practices on the social model of disability and behaviour, in which the child is not viewed as a broken soul to be fixed by therapeutic interventions, but as a complex being living in close relationship to their home / school community. We still need to remember to dream, to keep our imaginations working, to not accept false ceilings and to put the real child at the heart of the system we are trying to build.
Pupils, parents and teachers must document and pass on the things which work to support inclusion, however small they seem.

 

BSL - An officially recognised language

On Tuesday 18th March 2003 the British Government took the formal step of recognising British Sign Language (BSL) as a language in its own right.
It has also allocated £1 Million funding for initiatives to support the move.
Following publication of the Government's Position Statement, Secretary of State Andrew Smith said:
"What we are saying today is important for the 70,000 or so Deaf people for whom BSL is their first or preferred language for participating in everyday life, and for their families. But it is also important for the rest of society to understand that BSL is a language and what this means".
The British Deaf Association welcomed the move:
"The British Deaf Association, the lead organisation of Deaf sign language users, has been campaigning for over 20 years for this decision and we are delighted to receive the news. There is still a long way to go before equality is achieved, but this is a milestone achievement for the Deaf community".

 

Inclusion and Assessment - One award for all

By Anne Darby
Young people are made acutely aware of difference: their own difference or deviation from the mean of what is considered 'normal'. Perhaps we will be able to measure the success of the concept of inclusion in school when difference is not stigmatised but celebrated; when minority groups are seen to have the same status as that held by the dominant group. We seem a long way from that ideal:-
"Say I don't act like these kids and then if I want to hang out with them I have to act like them, like that"
"Keep away from him, he needs help,
we don't, he's different from us"
"I don't like being called (names)"
One of the ways young people's educational progress is tracked is through the examination system. SATs and other examinations are also used to track the educational progress of schools and their outcomes in terms of educational attainments of their pupils. The question I wish to raise is whether this system works against the concept of inclusion and further stigmatises disabled learners, and if so, what arguments can be used to counter and broaden the Government's sole strategy of testing. Do special arrangements for disabled learners promote inclusion? On the other hand, is it right that children of lower academic ability should be expected to sit the same exam as children who are advantaged? Why is it that we allow a system whereby children (and adults for that matter) are measured against each other, the results publicly announced and those with higher scores given higher status and higher rewards?
Given that society is run on a competitive system, am I raising a wider question here and, by expecting educational and social inclusion to have resonance in schools, are we expecting schools to operate on contradictory policies and allowing criticism of lack of results when the same is not expected in other spheres of society, from the workplace to the Houses of Parliament?
In Inclusion Week, last November, Simone Aspis gave an answer to some of these questions. Speaking at a meeting in London about assessment processes, she gave examples of assessments that have been used successfully to measure progress without segregating, stigmatising and further disadvantaging some of the candidates.
Simone first pointed to a range of systems, based on grading, introduced over the years but which have been found wanting and which might be described as 'how clever are we and how do we measure it?' The current controversies around A and AS level exams might be considered as examples. Simone contrasted this with the consensus around tests based on a notion of pass/fail, for example first aid certificates, basic food hygiene certificates and the driving test, situations where applicants receive a pass if they complete with competence all the tasks required of them and everyone receives the same award.
Simone also pointed to award systems that could be described as demonstrating 'added value', incidentally mirroring the debate on placing schools in 'league tables'. Assessment, whether of an individual child or of a school, should give a sense of how far, and in what areas, there has been progress. The example she gave of this is the Duke of Edinburgh Award, an assessment designed to be inclusive and introduced in 1956. It has survived the test of time surprisingly well considering the demise of other forms of assessment over the same period and is respected by employers. The Award measures personal and social development, sustained effort and the attainment of skills. Participation in the scheme is valued and the scheme is itself flexible, allowing for prior knowledge, a range of ability and student choice. Whilst not uncritical of the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme, Simone held it up as an example of a successful system of assessment of both achievement and ability, a system that is inclusive and encouraging to young people and a system which encourages team working while avoiding direct competition between candidates, elitism and an allocation of a status within a hierarchy. Simone also demonstrated the advantages of the Duke of Edinburgh Award (and any system following its principles) to 'gifted' children and how such an Award could be used to select candidates for particular training such as at medical school or for University courses.
I recommend people to read the papers Simone has written on this subject. I feel strongly that the concept of An Award for All needs to be explored and developed. This discussion could both inform the debate on pre-University assessment, as it would be refreshing to have an alternative to the annual claim each August that A Level standards have dropped, and begin a debate on how social and educational inclusion could be driven forward if disabled learners could have their achievements more accurately reflected in non-stigmatising ways.
References:
Quotations from 'Inclusion: What young people tell us', Nottingham City Council 2002 pages 5-7
Simone Aspis' papers, Data 14 and 36, can be accessed from Bolton Data for Inclusion: http://www.inclusion-boltondata.org.uk/data_titles.htm

 

Barriers

Don't build a ramp into your school
if all you're going to do there
is cream off the so called elite
and leave the rest to fester
at the back, potential untapped.

diversity is not a college
for undertakers
it's a wonderful mixture
of vibrantly different children
each one adding to the others' experience

every one as important as the next
every one with something vital to communicate
all you've got to do as educators
is help them develop
into the people they wish to become

it's that simple
if you find it hard
the children will help you

Lindsay Carter
2002

 

Personal Assistants and how they affect my life

By Maresa Mackeith
Imagine you are a person from another planet. People are terrified and feel helpless around you. Nothing seems to fit your needs. Then someone comes along who wants to learn how to give you access to the world. She likes you, you like her, it is wonderful, the world opens up, you want it to stay like that for ever.
When a good P.A. leaves, the feeling is of abandonment. P.A.s are part of my body and my mind, when a P.A. has tuned into how I think, our emotions become intertwined. This can become frightening for both the P.A. and me. If there is something distressing going on with me, the P.A. gets affected by it and vice versa. The difference is that the P.A. can have a rest from me, but without a replacement, I can't function without the P.A.. Sometimes even if the P.A. is physically there, I still can't function because her mind isn't with me. They can try, but the exhaustion of trying to keep things going, is too much for me, this can make both of us feel helpless. I also think that P.A.s get frightened at the possibility of seeing themselves in me, and of course I would like to reassure them on this one, as we won't have had the same life experience. I don't want to be them, I want to be me. I need them to be happy with who they are. I don't want them to feel I need a life like theirs, but I want them to be able to be patient with themselves but also to be completely there for me, even if I'm doing nothing, as that is the time we can learn to tune in to each other.
I don't want them to feel frightened of my body, it serves me well, this is what I have to give. I want to give people the opportunity to learn to be with someone in a way that is unusual in the present way we live. For me, the engagement with, and attention from the P.A. are my lifelines, and it seems they are skills that many people could do with, to be productive with their time and energy. I can teach them these skills, but they need to want to learn and see time in a different way. It can be productive to do nothing together, we just don't know how to measure it.
Sometimes I watch the world around me going completely mad. Can we not enjoy each other for ourselves, including taking time to help each other out without being measured, even if it takes time and energy? We don't always know the value of what people are giving until afterwards.
I don't want to be contained. A P.A.'s job for me, is to be open to what they don't expect, like I might not want a buzzy life like theirs, but I don't want to be bored. I want access to ideas, to learning about different ways of life. To engage in thinking with them, and thinking with other people. To have all that we need to communicate, even if it's non verbally. This means to share together, to laugh and have fun, and to share our interests.
I want to have access to learning. It is a lifeline to me. I want P.A.s who share this excitement about learning. I don't want them to be doing it as a duty, their mind won't be there. I also want to make friends, not necessarily those that the P.A. likes or feels comfortable with. That is hard, as it's easier when they like those people.
All this is a lot to ask, but it is possible and essential for an ongoing productive life. In fact, I think it is what I have to offer, not just what I take. It is all the same in the end.
I want a P.A. who can listen and be at peace with themselves. When people are struggling with other issues in their lives, I have to take that on too, which is OK sometimes, but can get too much if it's over a long period of time, or if I'm stressed too, like over the exam time.
I need someone who can help me make friends, rather than want to make friends with those people too, as I will lose the competition. This takes someone very confident in themselves.

 

The Inclusion Assistant

There has been a big movement on the part of the Government to recognise the value of the classroom assistant in schools. The low pay and lack of opportunities for career development has been acknowledged as in need of change. Unions and the GMB and Unison in particular have taken up the issue. This is resulting in a plan to introduce a national framework for classroom assistants linked to occupational standards and common conditions of service. All jobs will be evaluated against these with the local authority deciding the price tag. The government have suggested three main grades of classroom assistant, ranging from untrained to managing a team. Nottingham LEA have already developed a local policy, paying their top grade teacher assistants up to £20,000 a year.
At the same time efforts are being made to conflate the current 300 different courses and qualifications available to classroom assistants down to about 10 standardised courses with add-on modules. In terms of supporting young disabled people, young people with learning difficulties, speech and language impairments, or emotional and behavioural difficulties the Local Government National Training Organisation has produced several units within their GNVQ for teaching/classroom assistants which look very promising.
However, there is no evidence yet that the inclusion of young people with high level support needs in mainstream schools has yet been understood.
When young people with 'severe' or 'complex' needs are thought about, it is usually within the context of special schools. Special schools are not like mainstream schools, not least because their aims, methods, cultures and curricula are usually based on the medical model of disability. Activities are often therapeutic rather than educational in intent, the expectations of the children are lower, the pace of the day is slower, there is usually no homework or exams and the concept of independence and empowerment are not high on the agenda. The expected outcome is likely to be another form of specialist provision.
The goal of inclusion is very different. It is based on the social model of disability and incorporates the understanding of independence developed by disabled people - gaining control over your life. In this model people with high level support needs are enabled to choose and direct their own personal assistants, to live the life they want. Many 'severely' disabled adults live good, non-institutional lives this way. The skill to manage personal assistants needs to be learnt. As young disabled people in school, their learning supporters are the forerunners of their personal assistants, and therefore they need to be deployed and trained appropriately. The difference about being an assistant or enabler in a mainstream school or college setting is that the expectations of the young person in terms of their presence, stamina, concentration, patience, ability to relate to many people, noise, study skills, pressure, testing and performance are imposed by the institution. The skills needed by an assistant (or team of assistants) to facilitate a young persons participation are different and greater than those needed in specialist settings.
In our view a course needs to be designed particularly for learning supporters who wish to work on a one-to-one basis with young people with high level support needs. This course should eventually lead to qualification at the highest grade of assistant. It could include many modules drawn from the NVQ plus modules on:
The Medical and Social Models of Disability
Inclusive Education and Disability Equality
Independent living
Working together with parents
The needs of the individual concerned
This last module should include paid time in the young persons home and with other professionals who support the young person e.g. physiotherapist, speech and language therapist, communication aids specialist.
In many cases the skills will need to be learnt 'on the job' but as each new skill is mastered, or module completed successfully the job should be re-evaluated and pay increased. This will give a real incentive for people to remain in post and relieve the young person from the endless burden of continually training new people and then losing them just as they become effective. It will also give a career path to those many classroom assistants who do not aspire to be teachers, but to empower vulnerable young people.
Micheline Mason
Related resources:
The Inclusion Assistant
Report and Video £10
Available from the Alliance for Inclusive Education (details on back page)
Learning Supporters and Inclusion: Roles, Rewards, Concerns and Challenges
Report £5
Available from CSIE:
0117 344 4007
www.csie.org.uk

 

Re-building the walls of exclusion

Disabled People respond to the report on the Governments working group on the future role of Special Schools.
The DfES 'Report of the Special Schools Working Group' proposes that the segregation of some disabled children should be a permanent feature of British society. Under a complete misunderstanding of the aims of inclusive education, the DfES working party on the future role of special schools attempts to convince us that special schools and inclusive schools are two choices, different but equal in their ability to meet the needs of disabled pupils. They say that special schools will always be a valuable part of an 'inclusive' education system. As such they are recommending that special schools should no longer be subject to market forces, relying as they do for their funding through expensive individual LEA packages won via the statementing process. Instead they ask for such schools to be funded separately to secure their long-term existence.
Disabled people, supported by our allies, have fought long and hard against all forms of discrimination, segregation and institutionalised life for many years. Indeed all the user-led organisations of disabled people including the Alliance for Inclusive Education, British Council Of Disabled People and People First (the self advocacy organisation of people with learning difficulties) came into existence to demand that nothing be done to us without our consent and co-operation, and to fight for inclusion. Disabled children have been particularly vulnerable to exclusion as, in common with all children, they have few rights of their own. Power to control their lives is invested in non-disabled adults, including the power to place them in residential 'schools' from a very early age. There is much evidence to show that disabled people have had enormous emotional, social and educational harm inflicted upon us, generation after generation by forcing us out of our families, local schools and communities. It is also true that some disabled children have been harmed in hostile mainstream schools where discrimination and neglect have not been tackled, but with training and new legislation such as the Special Educational Needs and Disability Act (SENDA) 2001, this is rapidly changing.
The report claims that the continued need for segregated schools is caused by the increasing severity of children's impairments and their resulting complex needs. It is the view of the overwhelming majority of disabled people and our allies that these are the very children most in need of understanding, support and inclusion. They are the most in danger of isolation, the most in need of a stimulating environment, and the most in need of non-disabled friends to facilitate their enjoyment of life. They are also the group most likely to be forced into lifelong institutionalisation as can be seen in the reports published by Joseph Rowntree 'Gone Missing' and 'Still Missing' written by Dr. Jenny Morris. There are now concrete examples of children with every type and level of impairment being included successfully in ordinary schools.
The recommendations in the report are not based on any such research into outcomes, but on the vague pre-conception that parents must be offered a choice. But even within its own pages is the evidence that parents and young people only 'choose' special schools because not enough preparation has yet gone into mainstream schools to make them fully inclusive:
"Our dream is for an education for all our children which is ambitious, accessible and values them as future citizens. Schools are at the heart of all our communities - but not all truly value diversity."(Parents focus group)
The reason this report is so dangerous and must be strongly challenged is because the idea that some disabled children will always do 'better' in segregated schools is incompatible with the idea that society needs to learn how to include all its citizens. These two ideas cannot co-exist any more than the concepts of equality and apartheid. If we continue to embrace the notion of permanent segregation, we will never have inclusion. Our dream, we are told, is not possible. Yet we know it is possible and already happening in progressive LEAs such as Nottingham City, Calderdale and Newham.
The leadership is not yet developed widely enough in all mainstream schools to argue for the overnight closure of special schools, but it must be our goal as a country to significantly reduce the numbers of children who are segregated each year until there is no further need for segregated provision. The Government should not be condoning the building of 'New Model' special schools but setting targets for the transfer of resources, including staff, to build the capacity of mainstream nurseries, schools and colleges to include all learners. Disabled people and our allies will continue to fight for this for as long as it takes.
Micheline Mason
The Report of the Special Schools Working Group is out for consultation until 3rd July 2003
Get your FREE copy of the report and the consultation response form from:
DfES Publications Unit
Phone: 0845 60 222 60
Fax: 0845 60 333 60
Textphone: 0845 60 555 60
Email: dfes@prolog.uk.com
You can also download an electronic version of the form at:
www.dfes.gov.uk/consultations/
NOTHING ABOUT US WITHOUT US!
This article was originally produced by the Alliance for Inclusive Education as a handout at the launch of the report, but the organisers did not allow it to be distributed.

 

Whose meeting is it anyway?

Involving children and young people with special educational needs in statutory reviews:
Many children can participate in meetings and even those who do not should have their wishes and feelings recorded and taken into account. Children are best able to contribute to Annual Reviews when they are given sufficient time to consider their wishes and feelings. Just inviting them to come to their review meeting without preparation, is likely to be tokenistic and an uncomfortable experience.
To participate in the process a child needs a listening culture - ways to express their feelings, preferences and where possible their views, and adults around who are accurately able to interpret what a child is communicating. To begin to make informed choices, children need accessible information and real experience to draw on. The quality of their contribution relies on good planning and preparation and most children will need a useful ally. If you are that person, here are some tips and ideas to help a child think about what they want to say:
Helping children plan doesn't have to happen too formally. Many children have lots of waiting time and sometimes it's more productive to do five or ten minutes thinking a day over several weeks rather than longer sessions. And it's always more manageable to ask one question at a time. If it's possible ask open not closed questions. Closed questions are those that only invite a 'yes' or 'no' answer. Reflect back what you think a child is telling you, to check that you have understood them clearly.
Avoid making any assumptions about what's important to them. If it's not easy to be sure what they mean, acknowledge that you've got lost and start again. Be patient, resist the urge to fill silences or finish a sentence. Acknowledge their feelings. Comments like 'you sound angry' are more useful than 'don't be angry' and if a child is upset about something, take care not to say 'it'll be alright' because it may not be and it doesn't feel okay right now.
It's easy to unknowingly build value judgements into questions - asking lots of 'why' questions may be leading, try asking instead 'tell me more about that?' Let them know there are no right or wrong answers and you won't be cross whatever they say.
Sometimes we act as if talking and writing are the only valid means of recording views. Encourage your child to choose how they want to record their views. Think about using photographs, drawings, audio or video tape as well as observation to 'catch and record' their wishes and feelings. Simple questionnaires in word, sign, symbol or pictures can help many children make sense of, and order their contribution.
If everyone is well prepared there shouldn't be any surprises for anyone at the meeting. Make sure copies of your child's views, whatever the format, are circulated to everyone attending the meeting along with your advices and those of others. Find out if your child wishes to be at part or all of the meeting, or if they would like someone else to present their views and who this would be.
Our experience is that meetings are more successful if they are held somewhere familiar and at a time when a child is best able to contribute, so probably not at the end of the school day. If there is a chance your child's means of communication may not be clearly understood by everyone at the meeting, your child should choose who it's okay for the adults to ask if they get lost - it's hopeless if everyone tries to help. It's also important to agree what will happen if your child wishes to leave the meeting, or take a break - do they need someone to keep an eye on them, will the discussion be suspended while your child is in the loo? Also, check whether your child would like the meeting taped or someone nominated to take notes on their behalf.
A 'code of conduct' for participants might include these sorts of things:
Reminding everyone whose meeting it is (your child's) and what needs to be discussed.
Introducing your child to anyone they don't know well and explaining their role.
Checking if there is anyone your child wishes to be present for only part of the meeting.
Agreeing not to challenge what your child says - whatever he says that's how it feels.
Checking that your child feels his questions have been answered - if not, make the opportunity to let him have another go.
Recapping all the thing each participant agrees to do as a result of the meeting.
Taking time to check that your child understands what has been agreed will happen next.
After the meeting, check out how you both feel, maybe your child would like to go over what happened. Perhaps there is something they would like done differently next time? Make sure your child gets a copy of what was agreed in an accessible format. Check that where your child has clear views about important matters, these are reflected in amendments to a Statement, Individual Education Plan or updated Care Plan. If it hasn't been possible to act on your child's wishes, check who will explain the reasons for that decision. Last, support your child to put in place what they have volunteered to try to do differently, and remember to acknowledge every small piece of progress.
This is an excerpt of an article from the 'Out of aMAZE' Newsletter.
aMAZE provides information, advice and support to parents of children with special needs.
Contact them on: 01273 772289

 

Head Teachers for Inclusion

Most of the best practice in inclusive education has been developed by the vision, commitment and leadership of a small number of mainstream Head Teachers and their Deputies.
The Alliance for Inclusive Education is convening a group of such Heads and Deputy Heads to find ways in which they can support each other to continue to develop their thinking and practice, and to encourage their peers to do likewise. The group will be also open to Head Teachers of Special Schools who wish to close them down and support their pupils within the mainstream. Kenn Jupp, author of 'Everyone Belongs', himself an ex Special School Head, will be the group facilitator.
If you would like to be part of this group please let Kenn Jupp or Micheline Mason know by phone, post or email at the Alliance for Inclusive Education (details on back page).

 

The Problem with P-Scales

The P-Scales (Progress Scales) are introduced in the QCA website as guidelines for all those who work with pupils with learning difficulties. They are espoused to be useful in developing an inclusive curriculum. Teachers, parents and early years practitioners argue that the P-Scales are not compatible with inclusive classroom practice and will only serve to separate and limit the potential of the children to whom they will be applied.
In the honourable attempt to find ways to measure the progress of children who are labelled as having severe impairments and who are unable to perform well in standardised tests, the Government has made a mistake. They went to the presumed 'experts', a group of teachers from schools for children with severe learning difficulties, and asked them to develop a system which can be used by 'ordinary' teachers. Unfortunately the model which they produced is based entirely on the medical model of disability, using what used to be called the development curriculum.
There are several problems with this assessment model underpinning the P-Scales, all of which have serious implications for the human rights, dignity and learning opportunities offered to disabled pupils:
They only value a narrow definition of what constitutes progress.
The comparisons against which the disabled child is pitted is unfair - the non-disabled peer.
They fail to take account of the fact that disabled students do not naturally and neatly develop in small steps. They might have skills in one area and learning needs in another. An individual child might take a giant leap in learning followed by a long-term plateau.
They fail to separate physical disability, communication difficulty and/or cognitive impairment. Most disabled pupils with more than one of these impairments (and sometimes with only one) are lumped together under one heading of "learning difficulty". If you have a communication impairment and physical disability the P-Scales assume that this impacts on and reflects difficulty in cognitive skills whether or not this is demonstrated.
There is no provision for assessing and reflecting on what a disabled pupil is capable of if given appropriate help and support. Instead they follow the medical model of observing the deficit rather than spotting the potential.
The example activities given in the guidance are often very different from those found in the mainstream (especially as you move up through the key stages). This promotes separate segregated provision rather than inclusive practice.
A new framework needs to be developed by teachers familiar with adapting the curriculum to embrace the learning goals of all children.
This article has been taken from the paper 'The Problem with P-Scales - A Critique and Recommendations
by Marion Stanton PGCE, Dip. Ed. (Special)
John Parry, B.Ed, M.A, Portage Co-ordinator,
Joe Whittaker, Senior Lecturer, Bolton Institute Micheline Mason, Alliance for Inclusive Education
Zelda McCollum, Deputy Head Teacher
Denise Walker, Parent Advisor
If you would like a copy of the paper, please contact the Alliance for Inclusive Education (details on back page).

 

Winning Hearts and Minds

An ally challenges parents' fear of inclusion:
I was asked to facilitate a workshop for parents and professionals in Southend on circles of support and inclusion. I was intending to do the day with Sue, a Disability Equality Trainer, as I believe work like this should always be done with disabled people and me as an ally supporting. Unfortunately Sue was ill on the day and I had to do the day alone. What I had not been told was that Southend LEA were at that time aiming to go for total inclusion, and parents were up in arms. They had started campaigning against it and had come with the special school staff to this conference. I decided not to be phased. I could do this. I changed my planned programme and started talking about the difference between segregation, integration and inclusion.
An LEA officer could not understand why, on the overhead, special schools were categorised as segregation. I realised this was going to be hard. I showed the video 'Count Me In' and tears started to flow. I then read 'Kim' by Pippa Murray. More tears. Parents began to say that they had not understood what was meant by inclusion. They had been angry because of the way the proposal had been worded. One parent said that although she was campaigning against the change, she did actually want her child in a mainstream school, but the school had said no.
At the end of the day the parents decided they were going to re-think their position, and they asked for more training and support from all of us.
An interview with Christine Burke
'Count Me In' is available from DEE (details on back page)
'Kim' is from the book 'Let Our Children Be', available from Parents with Attitude: 0114 235 9276

 

Kim

When I first had Kim he was my son.
A year later he was epileptic and developmentally delayed. At eighteen months he had special needs and he was a special child. He had a mild to moderate learning difficulty. He was mentally handicapped.

I was told not to think about his future.

I struggled with all this.

By the time he was four he had special educational needs.
He was a statemented child. He was dyspraxic, epileptic, developmentally delayed and had complex communication problems.

Two years later, aged six, he was severely epileptic (EP), cerebral palsied (CP) and had complex learning difficulties.

At eight he had severe intractable epilepsy with associated communication problems. He was showing a marked developmental regression.
He had severe learning difficulties.

At nine he came out of segregated schooling and he slowly became my son again. Never again will he be anything else but Kim - a son, a brother, a friend, a pupil, a teacher, a person.
Pippa Murray
In Loving Memory of Kim Murray 1983 - 1998

 

Creating Independence and Inclusion

Youth Personal Assistance Support Scheme
Rowen Jade
Produced by NYA / WECIL
ISBN: 0 86155 282 2
Price: £9.50
Published by the National Youth Agency
This new video and report is an excellent resource for anyone wanting to understand how the social model of disability relates to the concept of independence as defined by disabled people, and the possibilities which are opening up for young disabled people through the use of personal assistants.
It is an account of a scheme set up by an organisation of disabled adults (West of England Centre for Inclusive Living) in partnership with the National Youth Agency, known as Youth PASS which stands for Youth Personal Assistance Support Scheme.
Their objectives are to:
Enable young Disabled people to gain experience of using personal assistance in a one-to-one relationship which is under their control and direction
Enable young Disabled people to gain access to mainstream youth activities and regeneration activities
Support young Disabled people in developing higher levels of self-esteem, positive self-identity, higher expectations and a greater ability to exercise self-determination
Promote inclusion and awareness of a Disability Equality perspective among youth services, schools and parents
Evaluate the project and recommend good practice which supports a model of Youth PASS which can be replicated on a national basis
Of particular interest is the thinking about the differences between assisting adults and young people and the need to work with parents.
It was evident that most of the users of the scheme were attending segregated schools and were quite isolated from other young people. There is still much to be learned about how to embed the principles of independence and personal assistance into mainstream schools where a young persons social needs can be overlooked.

 

Buster and the Amazing Daisy

Adventures with Asperger Syndrome
Nancy Ogaz
ISBN: 1-84310-721-X
Jessica Kingsley Publishers
In this exciting adventure story, Daisy, who has autism, defeats her bullies and overcomes her fears with the help of Buster, a very special rabbit. All is going well until a terrible fate threatens Daisy's new friend Cody. Will Daisy be able to gather her courage and special talents to save him? Buster and the Amazing Daisy is not just a humorous and engaging story, it will also give its readers an insight into the hopes and dreams, as well as the fears and frustrations, of many children with autism.
Nancy Ogaz is a writer and the mother of a child with Asperger's Syndrome.
"I would highly recommend Buster and the amazing Daisy to all children, young people, parents and teachers. It gives a wonderful insight into the difficulties and triumphs that all children experience. The story allows the reader to understand different perspectives on life and how we can all benefit from taking time to understand and value each other. Daisy is a wonderful example to us all in finding solutions to barriers as an individual and as part of her community."
Angie Northwood
Parent and Inclusion Manager,
Early Years and Development Childcare Partnership