Inclusion is an important issue in education as there is a growing recognition that a teacher’s job is to educate all children.
It is also important that our children grow up understanding and celebrating the diversity of our society so inclusive education allows for our schools to reflect the reality of our communities, rather than leading to further segregation.
Through inclusive education each child can be supported to achieve their best and we can challenge rather than perpetuate stereotypes.
For the last thirty years there has been a trend towards educational inclusion, with children with SENDs (Special Educational Needs or Disabilities) being supported in the mainstream classroom, through use of various teaching strategies, support from specialist teaching assistants (TAs) and other specialists (e.g. Speech and Language Therapists, etc).
Many schools, including the school where I am on placement now, identify themselves as inclusive schools and make active efforts to ensure that all pupils have access to learning.
According to Ofsted, it is about ‘equal opportunities for all pupils, whatever their age, gender, ethnicity, attainment and background.’ (Ofsted, 2008, Evaluating Inclusive Education)
However, TES reported in 2014 that this trend seems to be stalling or even reversing with the number of children in special educational establishments increasing as a percentage of children attending school.
Despite the new SEND Code of Practice supporting inclusion and highlighting the need for pupils and parents to have a say in their own education or that of their child, schools are under great pressure to raise standards which may make them more hesitant to accept children with SENDs.
While, in some cases, a school designed to support children with specific educational needs may be the best place for that child to learn, there are also many ways that a child could benefit by being in the mainstream classroom.
Many children will be able to access the curriculum with tailored support and can benefit from the social opportunities that a mainstream school offers. Segregating children also sends a message about how SENDs are perceived and can perpetuate rather than challenge stereotypes. I personally feel that each case must be carefully evaluated on what would be best for each individual child.
Watch some of videos below for an introduction to inclusive education and the impact it can have on our society.
Click on the links below to read about some specific special educational needs or disabilities(or in my favourite terminology which I feel doesn’t infer inferiority/superiority, learning differences)
Ofsted (2008) Evaluating Inclusive Education. Available from: www.naldic.org.uk/Resources/…/EvaluatingEducationalInclusion.pdf
TES (2014) ‘Increase in number of special school pupils reverses trend towards inclusion’ Available from: https://www.tes.com/news/school-news/breaking-news/increase-number-special-school-pupils-reverses-trend-towards
Florian, L. (2008) ‘INCLUSION: Special or inclusive education: future trends’, British Journal of Special Education Volume 35, Issue 4 pages 202–208, December 2008
Learning assessment and Neurocare Centre – information of lots of different SENDs and how they overlap and interact with each other
Teaching Strategies Bank for supporting children with SENDs in the classroom