Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools
Unit 11: Promote equality, diversity and inclusion in work with children and young people (A/601/4070)
This unit required me to carry out practical activities that were witnessed in a school setting. Due to confidentiality I will not be posting the paperwork that I sent to my tutor within this post. I hope you understand.
Learning Criteria: Be able to support inclusion and inclusive practices in work with children and young people.
Question 3.1: Explain what is meant by inclusion and inclusive practices.
In the early 1900s, there existed a separate system of schooling for pupils who were classified as ‘handicapped’. Shockingly, this segregation continued right up until the 1980s and 1990s, when excluding children, young people and adults from the mainstream education system because of disability or learning difficulty was regarded as negative discrimination and as a major human rights issue.
A number of international human rights agreements supported the view that compulsory segregation in education is against children’s and young people’s basic human rights. These include; the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989), the UN Standard Rules on the Equalisation of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities (1993) and UNESCO’s Salamanca Statement (1994).
In recent times, the UK government has been committed to promoting the inclusion of all pupils into mainstream schools that recognise and celebrate human diversity. As previously cited throughout this course, UK legislation such as the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Act (2001) and the statutory guidance in the Special Educational Needs Code of Practice (2001), now requires educational institutions to provide equality of opportunity and to ensure that no learners are prevented from participating fully in education or disadvantaged because of factors such as; gender, SEN, disability, social and cultural backgrounds, ethnic groups (including travellers, refugees and asylum seekers), diverse linguistic backgrounds, etc. The National Curriculum Statutory Inclusion Statement (2000) states that,
“Schools have a responsibility to provide a broad and balanced curriculum for all pupils. The National Curriculum is the starting point for planning a school curriculum that meets the specific needs of individuals and groups of pupils.”
(UK Government (Online), Statutory Inclusion Statement, [Available] http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20090902230247/curriculum.qcda.gov.uk/key-stages-1-and-2/inclusion/statutory-inclusion-statement/index.aspx (20/11/2016))
Principles of an inclusive education services is based on having high expectations of all pupils and supporting them to achieve their full potential. It is underpinned by the belief that all pupils have abilities and the capacity to benefit from learning experiences. For a school to offer an inclusive curriculum it should set suitable learning challenges that are relevant to pupils while responding to their pupils’ diverse learning needs. A setting must identify, understand and overcome potential barriers to learning and assessment for individuals as well as groups of pupils. In other words, an educational setting has a responsibility to ensure that no pupils are disadvantaged and that all pupils, whatever their circumstances or abilities, are able to participate in and enjoy the setting’s activities.
Our school has an attached Resource Base for children with ASD who integrate with our mainstream pupils as much as possible on a daily basis depending on their individual needs. When talking to our Deputy Head about our inclusive practices, she reminded me that many of the actions we do naturally are defined as inclusive practices, such as being approachable, welcoming and genuinely interested. We have adaptive policies and procedures i.e. a system exists where policies and procedures of a setting can be (and are) updated to ensure they enable inclusion. We encourage our pupils to respect their fellow schoolmates and their environment. We have a reflective approach to practice so that we can see how we handle and manage situations that involve inclusion. We create many enjoyable experiences that are appropriate to their ages and abilities so that they can learn from. All our staff have a professionally positive attitude which is also an inclusive practice; we are able to identify learning needs, diffuse conflict, source resources, share information, act as role models for inclusion and we monitor and evaluate the environment i.e. check that there are no barriers to inclusion and where there are we are able & confident in removing them.
So, to summarise, inclusion is about joining in, being part or a setting and importantly, feeling included and not left out; this can be nurtured in many simple ways, including; making sure that every child or young person takes his/her turn during an activity, welcoming back pupils who have been absent, making sure that he/she gets to experience success and by ensuring sure that he/she knows that the rules of behaviour apply to everyone equally e.g. “you are not allowed to hit another pupil and other pupils are not allowed to hit you”. Inclusive practices on the other hand, are words or actions which encourage every pupil in the school or setting to join in and be part of the school as a whole; these practices can be simply to understand what a particular child or young person requires to be able to join in an activity and ensuring that his/her needs are met; in other words, removing any barriers that may exist, involving the child and his/her family in any planning, tailoring the teaching methods to ensure that it is suitable, etc.
Question 3.2: Identify barriers to children and young people’s participation.
As mentioned when answering the previous question, an educational setting has a responsibility to ensure that no pupils are disadvantaged and that all pupils, whatever their circumstances or abilities, are able to participate in and enjoy the setting’s activities. It is therefore important to review the strategies in use in order that any barriers to participation are identified and steps are taken to overcome these where possible, so that pupils have access to a full range of activities and experiences.
While researching this subject, I have come to realise that barriers that prevent a child or young person from participating can come in many shapes and forms.
- Situational barriers – the cost, or the lack of time, the distance from a learning opportunity and such situations created by the individuals own circumstances.
- Institutional barriers – admission procedures, the timing and the scale of provisions and the general lack of institutional flexibility created by the structure of available opportunities.
- Dispositional barriers – the individuals motivation and attitude towards learning, this may be caused by a lack of suitable learning opportunities.
- Attitudinal barriers – prejudice, bias, discrimination, etc.
- Language and preferred methods of communication such as English not being the ‘mother tongue’ or having a speech impairment,
- mobility issues, such as a physical impairment or a financial constraints
- Environmental barriers such as transport facilities, access and layout to buildings and finally
- lack of information or knowledge, especially if new to an area or unable to access mainstream sources, e.g. internet, leaflets, Sure Start Centres, Citizen’s Advice Bureau
Looking specifically at children and young people with SEN and/or disabilities, these individuals may fall into at least one of four areas of need; sensory and/or physical, communication and interaction, cognition and learning, behaviour, emotional and social development. It should be said, however, that not every child or young person with a disability will have special educational need nor will every child or young person with special educational needs have a disability. Each one is unique and the support the school provides should always reflect his/her particular circumstances; I have learned never to make assumptions about strengths or weaknesses based on pupils’ perceived differences. This means that the impact of impairment on a pupil’s ability to function, learn and succeed should be taken into account when planning how to support him/her and how to best overcome barriers to participation.
Looking at the five SPICE areas of development, barriers to participation could include:
- A medical condition such as asthma, allergies, epilepsy or a chronic illness, etc. could pose a physical barrier for a child or young person as could a sensory and/or physical need, such as blindness, deafness or loss of a limb, etc.
- If a child or young person has a cognitive and/or learning disorder like ADP (Auditory Processing Disorder), dyslexia, Down syndrome, dyspraxia, dyscalculia, etc. it would make participation in the “normal” setting difficult thus creating barrier for him/her.
- A barrier to participation can also be created if the child or young person has any communication and/or interaction difficulties, such as if English is an additional language (EAL), or if he/she has a condition like autism, Asperger syndrome, stammering, etc.
- Social, emotional and/or behaviour difficulties such as ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), ADAH (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), Tourette syndrome, etc. will also make it hard for a child or young person to join in the “normal” way.
So, in conclusion, a barrier is something that stops or makes it hard for a child or young person to join in with his/her peers. The cause of this barrier could come from any number of underlying difficulties affecting one or a combination of the five key areas of development (SPICE) or be related to family or outside situations and issues such as finances or location. The important thing is that any barrier – or potential barrier – is identified quickly and steps are taken to overcome it, thus allowing the child or young person to participate to the best of their ability and achieve their potential.
Question 3.3: Demonstrate ways of supporting inclusion and inclusive practices in own work with children and young people assessed in the workplace
Witness Testimony sent to tutor.
That’s it, you can find all of my answers for this Teaching Assistant Level 3 course here on my blog, just use the search box or click on the tag Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools or any other tag of relevance.
If you are interested in learning how to be a Teaching Assistant for children and young people with Special Educational Needs, De Montfort College does offer an additional three units to this course that cover this subject.