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The purpose of this study is to examine my organisations policies relating to inclusion and differentiation and how these effected teaching and learning in class. To carry this forward I have observed 2 theory sessions one with learning support and the other without. The observations have been carried out using the organisations internal observation documentation and examining how inclusivity and differentiation is developed in both sessions.
Within this assignment I shall compare the two observations and identify common ground and contrasting features between the two sessions, examining how differentiation has taken place or could be developed. Before this happens I will explain my idea of what I feel Inclusion and differentiation mean to me, and following on to what the government and educational organisations have done to combat the areas of concern.
I will examine some of the policies from both governmental and educational background, studying their use within teaching and learning. My feedback could then be used to develop advancement to the observed staff and help with their own improvements in constructing a differentiated session. All feedback will then be passed on to management through development meetings.
Mel Ainscow defines Inclusion as: "The aim of Inclusion is to reduce exclusion and discriminatory attitudes, including those in relation to age, social class, ethnicity, religion, gender and attainment." Mel Ainscow then explains that this should not just focus on the individuals but on how settings, policies, culture and structures can help recognise and value diversity. (M Ainscow 2006)
Ainscow explains how settings and policies are just as important as the individuals; I would agree the setting is important in the development of the learner. The room needs to feel welcoming; this can be achieved by means of lighting, comfortable seating, objects of interest around the room. Within our organisation many of the rooms are presented in a welcoming manner, although different departments also use the same rooms, which could be counter-productive if displaying posters directly corresponding to a particular group. Also many of our classrooms are small, therefore limiting students to space and making it hard for tutors to observe individuals at work and give relevant feedback.
Although my organisation has policies in place, they are of little use if the structure for development is not used to its greatest potential. All staff is trained through a recognised qualification such as Diploma in Teaching in the Lifelong Learning Sector (DTLLS) and is trained in the development of differentiating strategies.
Some of the organisations policies that are in place are:
Equal opportunities for students July 2006
Equality and diversity (staff) February 2006
Equality and diversity (students) 2006
Disability equality 2006
All of the above have been developed from policies set out by the government.
Some of these are:
Disability Discrimination Act
Human Rights Act
Sex Discrimination Act
Data Protection Act
All of these acts originated from a report that was written back in 1978 by Baroness Warnock known as the "Warnock report" which introduced the term "Integrative". This later changed to "Inclusive" and over the years the Warnock report ran alongside many new acts and white papers but still stands to this day. However it is a little out of date and in need of updating due to ever changing situations and development in education. The government has increased investment over a period of four years to £4 billion but has still not found an acceptable alternative to Warnock's report. (Parliament 2006)
The government has said:
"You have this mismatch of very rapid change in the mainstream education system and this foundation of a Warnock-inspired framework that really has not changed very much at all. It has been tweaked a little, but substantially it is the same framework [...] it is not surprising if the system is creaking at the joints a little." (Parliament 2006)
Recently within the government there has been uncertainty over the word inclusion. It tends to have many different meanings that can be applied to the phrase. Parliament have been split, with many thinking that all learners should be included into mainstream schooling, while others members of parliament feel that there would be difficulty that many local authorities would have by issuing announcements concerning the closure of special schools. (Parliament 2006). In respect of the above policies, they are only one aspect of the influence on inclusion in education. There are many others which need to be considered as to how we implement an Inclusion policy. To do this we need to look at the area in which we live, low income areas, areas with ethnic minorities, are some examples used to assess the way in which we go about this.
Many of the special schools were opened with ,what was at the time , the preconception of helping children to to get to know their impairment . It segregated children from family and friends, making the child's learning difficulties the focus of attention. This was thought to be the answer in finding a solution to making them more "normal". The medical model needed to change as this actually isolated the children more, concentrating them on their weaknesses instead of including them in mainstream education and helping them cope with everyday life.
The inclusion of students into the mainstream schooling concentrated on more positive aspects, such as what could be achieved and learnt from fellow students and this type of schooling, opposed to magnifying their weaknesses.
To be inclusive in education you also need to be able to differentiate, by developing and planning a lesson around individuals who have different learning needs and abilities. When teaching groups, several aspects should be taken into consideration, such as; previous experience, numeracy and literacy capabilities, and their lack of confidence. All can play vital parts in helping to develop a learner's ability to progress and succeed. To carry this forward differentiated learning materials and approaches are needed. We therefore cannot treat everyone in the same way. We should be able to give all learners access to all necessary aids available, however different aids are required for different students. The more able and confident students should also have the opportunities to develop their full potential with any available resources.
Two observations were carried out with two lecturers teaching level 1 diploma in Bricklaying. One of the lecturers had a learning support lecturer assisting and teaching numeracy and literacy alongside the trade specific theory lesson. When the assistant was not teaching he was working with all the learners, not just the nominated learners who needed support. Both lecturer and support staff were trained to Certificate in Education standard and had extensive teaching experience. The lecturer also had many years practical experience and felt at ease with his subject matter. The lecturer who was assisting as a member of learning support had previously worked in a different profession, however over a period of 3 years working alongside lecturers in construction, he had built up a rapport with many of them and knew this subject inside out.
The group being taught consisted of 16 male students ranging from 16 to 17 years of age. The start of of the session began with the tutor welcoming the class back from a long break, asking if they had a good holiday and developing a relaxed easy going rapport. While they were waiting for the commencement of the session the support lecturer handed out a quick word search for the students to study. This also linked to the recapping the tutor was going to start the session with. The recap was simple but well organised with small white boards, questions were asked and all the students answered by using a multi choice answer of A, B, C or D. All students had the chance to answer and it gave the tutor the desired results .As the session progressed it was noticed that the group were very quiet and compliant to what they were studying. Listening intently to every word that was spoken from their mentor, the lesson moved at a steady pace. The students worked in small groups and worked from power points presentations and written handouts. All of these were placed on Blackboard under the course content tab. This session was the first of many for the start of a new term, being the first day back from the Christmas holidays; this was a 3 hour session.
Three learners in the group had been highlighted with Dyslexia from the start of the autumn term and were nominated specifically for support. To aid support to the learners with Dyslexia, the lecturer had specifically placed each student with a class member who was on hand to help his peer if needed.
The second session was observed before Christmas in the last week of term, the lecturer was also an experienced member of staff who had been a Bricklayer on large construction sites. He was well organised in the management of his course and how a subject was to be taught. The class, for this session had no learning support, however during the week, in other sessions support was supplied to this group. The class moved at a fast pace and was driven by the learners. This was due to the imminent end of term and the Christmas holidays which were fast approaching. The group consisted of 18 male students 16 to 17 years of age. The group were also very lively; again this was down to the Christmas holidays approaching. One learner was Dyslexic while the rest of the group lacked confidence. The lecturer worked through his subject well and was enthused with the subject he taught. He involved as many students in his lesson as he could but from time to time left learners behind failing to notice some of their frailties. This was noticed, as it was a failing of my own in class.
The class were put into small groups and given a task to complete using their notes from the previous week. Each group looked at a topic to develop a poster and write up three questions that could be asked to their peers as a recap to the end of the session. This seemed a good class but with one problem, the tutor found it hard to cover all of the students for any help that was needed. Many of the students rushed through the activity; this in turn could have possibly been slowed down with the intervention of the tutor.
Both Tutors had good ideas for their sessions and had included differentiation running through both of the sessions. Session A was marginally more successful than session B, because Session A split the students in small, manageable groups. Dr Elana Milstein explains that students need to become independent, active, self-organised and empowered. To do this sessions should be student centred, changing all the time and sessions should be designed to take on flexible grouping. (Dr Elana Milstein).
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