Education Essays - Exploring Difference and Diversity

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Exploring Difference and Diversity

As a Teacher of Additional Support Needs in a secondary school in North East Scotland, I intend to investigate the move from segregation to Inclusion and participation, how it affects my own practice and that of my school.

Having been a mainstream secondary school teacher for 14 years before becoming an Additional Support Needs teacher, I have learnt from experience and listening to colleagues, that behaviour seems to play a major part in the inclusive classroom. Colleagues have commented in the past that they don’t mind those children with ‘Special Needs’, it is those with behavioural difficulties which cause the problems. This train of thought is corroborated by Croll and Moses (2000). They interviewed Head Teachers from Special and Mainstream Schools, and LEA Officers.

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‘The view that children whose behaviour challenged the mainstream should be in separate provision was a widespread one:

“We cannot cope with EBD [emotional and behavioural difficulties] children in the mainstream.” (Primary Head)

“I am very committed to integration in principle, but it is very difficult to have disturbed children in mainstream schools.” (Primary Head)

“Some emotionally and behaviourally disturbed children make too great demands on staff. It’s not fair on other children.” (Primary Head) (Croll and Moses 2000, p6)

Cited by J Allan (1999, p10), Armstrong and Galloway have noted a tendency of teachers to reconstruct children with emotional or behavioural difficulties as ‘disturbed’ (1994:179), with the implication that these are outside the responsibilities of mainstream classroom teachers.

It is for this reason I intend to look at the behaviour of a small group of first year pupils in my classroom, and try to put into place some strategies to help reduce the frequency of unwanted behaviours, which hopefully, will go some way in promoting inclusion within my classroom practice and thus enabling them to access more mainstream classes in the future.

The unwanted behaviour could stem from a number of factors including their home life, environmental influences, peer pressure, personality, self confidence and self esteem, the delivery of the curriculum, to name but a few.

When considering difference and diversity, many people think of stereotypes, such as, cultural diversity, gender differences etc. The problem with a stereotype however, is that no one individual conforms to it exactly, and yet, in the educational institute it is individuals that we are dealing with therefore, we place the emphasis on exploration of individual differences, and not stereotypes.

Do these differences really mean that some children and young people are uneducable and have to be segregated and placed in special schools? Previous trains of thought were that those with ‘special needs’ would be better off in special schools. By placing them in such institutes, the education of the rest would not be hindered.

According to Thomas and Loxley (2007) one of the first Special Schools in the UK was The School of Instruction for the Blind, in Liverpool 1791, also mentioned in The Warnock Report (p8). During the Nineteenth Century Special Schools were established for the blind, deaf and dumb children. During the 20th Century Special Schools grew in number until they catered for around 2% of the school population.

In the early part of the century people with learning difficulties were referred to as feebleminded, imbeciles and idiots.

Many of the special schools were started by voluntary organizations for pupils with specific disabilities. They were seen as more helpful and less intimidating to students with disabilities.

‘The term special educational needs began to come into use in the late 1960s as a result of increasing dissatisfaction with the terminology used in the Handicapped Pupils and School Health Service Regulations (1945), which classified handicapped children into ten categories according to their main handicap. There was, moreover, an increasing awareness of the frequency of learning and other difficulties affecting children’s progress and adjustment in ordinary schools’. (Ronald Gulliford, (Ed) 1992 p1)

Before the Warnock Report it was commonly believed that special educational needs stressed that the deficits were from within the child. This came from a medical or psychological point of view which implied that the individual was in some way ‘in deficit’. The requirement for special educational provision was related to the concept of disability of mind or body. The 1944 Education Act defined 11 forms of disability but did not include groups of children who were considered to be uneducable due to the extent of their handicap. Disabilities were described in medical terms except for educational sub-normality and maladjustment which were more difficult to clarify, suggesting that there was a cut-off point between normal and abnormal. In 1970 legislation was introduced which stated that local education authorities had to make special educational provision for all types of disability, but this did not specify whether it should be in separate schools or classes. This resulted in special education being considered as that which only took place in special schools. (Sally Beveridge 1999)

The Warnock committee was set up to review the provision for children with mental and physical disabilities and produced the report in 1978. It promoted a wide range of special needs, and helped to form the basis of the 1981 Education Act’s policies on special educational needs (SEN).

The Act stated that the education of children with SEN should be carried out in ordinary schools where possible, and emphasized an approach that is in favour of inclusion and integration, rather than separation and isolation. This approach recommended that children with special needs should be treated as individuals, and that the child should have a learning support teacher with them in the classroom, rather than being taken out of the class. (1981 Education Act)

In the United Kingdom, discussed by Shah (2005), segregated or special schools were the most common form of provision for pupils with disabilities, despite the fact that the cost of special education per child is too high for most countries. Governments are now recognizing the need to develop a more affordable system which will provide quality education for all children, additionally, legislation is clearly moving towards an increasing emphasis on inclusion.

Inclusion is not a new phenomenon, it has been recommended in educational legislation since the Warnock Report in 1978. In fact it has been spoke about during the 1960’s,

Cited by Josephine Jenkinson, Dunn’s (1968) argument against segregated special education and in favour of integration was that advances in the development of individualized, self-paced curricula in regular education would allow students with disabilities to be accommodated in the regular class, if they were provided with a programme designed by a specialist teacher to meet their needs and in which they could progress at their own pace. Integration could be made possible by radical departures in school organization, involving a greater emphasis on team teaching, ungraded classes and flexible groupings. (Jenkinson, 1996. p 15-16)

This implies that there should be a change in the curriculum and how it is delivered, to meet the needs of all pupils, and that specialist teachers should be working with classroom teachers to plan and deliver the curriculum.

Historically “integration” was the term used in the 1980s, but this came to be seen as placing disabled children in a mainstream setting, without providing the support they required and allowing them to be there as long as they were able to fit into the existing systems and cultures. It is now acknowledged that the inclusion of disabled, and children with additional needs, involves going much further, and changing the policies, practices and attitudes within the school.

The Centre for Studies on Inclusive Education provides the following definitions of inclusion in education, from the Index for Inclusion in education (Booth and Ainscow 2002), also cited by Thomas and Vaughan 2004 (p183):

  • Valuing all students and staff equally.
  • Increasing the participation of students in, and reducing their exclusion from, the cultures, curricula and communities of local schools.
  • Restructuring the cultures, policies and practices in schools so that they respond to the diversity of students in the locality.
  • Reducing barriers to learning and participation for all students, not only those with impairments or those who are categorized as `having special educational needs'.
  • Learning from attempts to overcome barriers to the access and participation of particular students to make changes for the benefit of students more widely.
  • Viewing the difference between students as resources to support learning, rather than as problems to be overcome.
  • Acknowledging the right of students to an education in their locality.
  • Improving schools for staff as well as for students.
  • Emphasizing the role of schools in building community and developing values, as well as in increasing achievement.
  • Fostering mutually sustaining relationships between schools and communities.
  • Recognizing that inclusion in education is one aspect of inclusion in society. (Centre for Studies on Inclusive Education, internet source)

The most recent legislation is The Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004, in which the term ‘Special Educational Needs’ has been replaced with ‘Additional Support for Learning’.

The Act states that ‘A child or young person has additional support needs for whatever reason, the child or young person is, or is likely to be, unable without the provision of additional support to benefit from school education provided or to be provided for the child or young person. (Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004, p1)

This definition seems to be similar as in the 1981 Education Act previously mentioned, although the Education (Scotland) Act 1981 did not mention that the ‘learning difficulty’ included physical and mental disabilities, as did the Act in England.

Does this mean there are no real changes in policy? Is everything exactly the same as before but with a different name?

The Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004, and the Special Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001 (Department for Education and Employment, 2001), which amends the Disability Discrimination Act (1995), deliver a stronger right to a mainstream education for disabled children unless this is conflicting with the parents wishes or the provision of efficient education for other children. One of the main aims proposed in the recent White Paper, Removing Barriers to Achievement (DfES, 2004) is to reduce the number of special schools and encourage more mainstream schools to adopt fully inclusive practices. In addition, by reducing the number of residential schools and reallocating resources to local provisions and service, disabled children and young people can be educated closer to their homes and families. But it is argued that, even with the worldwide trend towards inclusion and the increasing participation of disabled children in mainstream schools, special education still has an important role and, for some students, is still the best option.

However, others need to be put in situations in which they have opportunities to succeed and develop self-esteem and confidence. (Shah, S, 2005)

Children may need additional support for a wide variety of reasons. A child’s education could be affected by issues resulting from:

  • learning environment
  • family circumstances
  • social and emotional factors (Govan Law Centre, internet source)

This is not a complete list and does not mean that every child fitting one of the above categories necessarily has additional support needs. This will depend on the amount and type of support required by the individual child.

There are many more factors that are now considered under The Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004 compared with the previous Act. Children with English as an additional language are now included whereas previously they were not, they were not viewed as having special needs, but they are now recognized as needing support to access the curriculum.

Also, parents now have the right to:

  • Ask their child’s education authority to find out whether your child has additional support needs.
  • Request a specific type of assessment and/or examination for your child when their education authority is proposing to formally identify whether they have additional support needs.
  • Receive information or advice about a child’s additional support needs. (Enquire 2006)

Local Authority Level

All local authorities should have policies in place to ensure they are abiding by the act. The authority in which I work has various policies and guidelines in place such as,

  • Access to Education for Pupils with Disabilities/Additional Support Needs Strategy 2005-08
  • Additional Support Needs Policy Framework.

The Additional Support Needs Policy Framework ensures that all children and young people are provided with the necessary support to help them work towards achieving their full potential with respect to their personality, talents and mental and physical abilities. It promotes collaborative working among all those supporting children and young people.

In September 2005 HM Inspectorate of Education was asked by Scottish Ministers to monitor and evaluate the consistency, effectiveness and efficiency of education authorities in implementing the Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004 and to ensure that procedures for implementation were in line with the duties of the Act 2004 and the associated Code of Practice.

In 2007 HMIE produced the Report on the implementation of the Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004.

The report states that most authorities were effective in ensuring that their procedures for implementing the Act were in line with the duties of the Act and the associated Code of Practice. The most effective had built on existing good practice and developed joint strategic approaches with other agencies to meet the needs of children and young people with additional support needs. However, authorities varied in their effectiveness in implementing the key requirements of the Act. (HMIE 2007)

The report provided guidelines for improvement and was made available to schools in February 2008, to enable them to evaluate their implementation and effectiveness of current legislation; the Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004 and Inclusion.

Following this report some schools including the school in which I work, are holding CPD sessions for staff on the implementation of the Act and Inclusion, and ways forward.

Why do we need inclusion?

There has been much debate over recent years concerning the provision of segregated special education for pupils with disabilities. There are both arguments in favour of inclusion and against.

Advantages of segregated education

Cited by Shah (2005), Barnes (1991) and Middleton (1999), argue that special education is promoted to parents of disabled children as a safe option to the hustle and bustle of mainstream schools, which may otherwise be too stressful. Some researchers claim that separate schools offer the best opportunities for disabled students, for instance, Jenkinson (1979) argues that with smaller classes and higher teacher pupil ratios, special schools allow concentrated one-to-one attention and tuition which can be delivered at a level appropriate to each child’s needs. They are perceived as more supportive, both physically and socially, and less threatening to students with disabilities, encouraging their feeling of security and enhancing their self-esteem by avoiding continual comparison of their achievements with other students. According to Pearse (1996), segregated institutions are an essential element of the social and psychological independence of disabled children. Moreover, being supported in an environment free from the involvement of mainstream barriers allows the children to explore and develop a sense of self. Cook, Swain and French (2001) propose that disabled students are likely to build positive social relationships more easily in segregated institutions where they not only share common goals and interests, but values, goals and ways of viewing the world. In mainstream school, where a disabled child requires support, Watson et al. (1999) suggest that successful social integration with peers may be hindered. They found that for some disabled people, the physical location of the helper could work against their acceptance among other children in the class. Allan (1996) suggests that the child’s interaction can be brought to the attention of the staff, as disabled children are more carefully monitored than their non-disabled peers: All children are the object of analysis within schools, but for pupils with special educational needs, the observation reaches further. They are observed, not only at work in the classroom, but also at break times. The way in which they intermingle with mainstream peers or integrate socially is often viewed as equally important, if not more so, than their attainment in mainstream curriculum goals. (Shah, S, 2005)

Criticisms of segregated education

Whatever their disability or learning difficulty children have a part to play in society after school. An early start in mainstream playgroups or nursery schools, followed by education in ordinary schools and colleges, is the best preparation for an integrated life. Education is part of, not separate from, the rest of children's lives. Disabled children can be educated in mainstream schools with appropriate support.

Shah discusses arguments against segregated education; Alderson and Goodey, (1998) argue that reports which suggest that students have a higher self-esteem or do better at special schools are worthless if self-esteem depends on being in an artificial, sheltered world. Barnes (1991) argues that being in a protective, segregated environment holds back disabled individuals from society. Dr John Mary and the British Council of Organizations of Disabled People (1986) believe that special education is one of the key routes for distributing non-disabled views of the world and making sure that disabled school leavers are socially isolated. The outcome of this isolation is that disabled people accept social discrimination and lack the skills needed in adult life. This argument is supported by Jenkinson (1997) and Fuchs and Fuchs (1998) who feel that the deficiency of suitable behavioural role models, and the removal from the general way of life of childhood and adolescence contribute to isolation in the community. Barnes, (1991) also argues that by producing socially and educationally disabled individuals, the special education system maintains discrimination practices in all other areas of social life, particularly employment. Dunn (1968), also had the same views, in that, a segregated placement is responsible for people with disabilities being negatively labelled and excluded from society. He goes on to say that labels have damaging effects on both teacher expectations and the student’s own self-concept. Another major criticism of segregated education is that an isolated curriculum that focuses on specific educational needs stops students from learning a wide range of subjects offered in mainstream schools. Jenkinson (1997) argues that the small number of staff in special schools, along with their considerably limited, curricula expertise, restricts the range and content of the curriculum. She feels the lack of training and experience of most special school teachers in the secondary curriculum to be a growing obstacle as students with disabilities move into adolescence. An article entitled Special School Shame (Disability Now, January 1997) reported on a study, conducted by the Alliance for Inclusive Education, which evidenced that special schools are less likely than mainstream schools to enter their students for public examinations. According to the sample statistics, only 6 of the 85 special schools in the study (7 per cent) proceeded to compete in national exams. The reasoning was based on the assumption that children in special schools were unable to learn as well as their peers in regular education.

Shah has also discussed inclusive education and cites a number of authors for example, Barnes (1991) has argued that inclusion plays a crucial role in the fight towards the abolition of discrimination and of disabled people being accepted as citizens of the social majority, he suggests that being educated in mainstream schools is positively related to the successful transition of people with disabilities into employment and wider society, although, being placed in mainstream school does not necessarily mean experiencing total inclusion. Inclusive education is more than just placing a disabled person in a mainstream school and providing extra support. Inclusion requires major changes within society to allow everyone to take part, interact and make choices. Young disabled people are less likely than their non-disabled counterparts to pursue academic subjects of their choice due to restrictions imposed by the physical environment. Burgess, (2003) believes that even now, mainstream schools are not fully accessible, as those responsible for developing inclusion still often think of accessibility as ramps and rails. Burgess also points out that discriminatory attitudes among teachers in mainstream schools have also been confirmed by UK education inspectors. A survey by the Department of Education and Science (DES), published in 1989, noted that the attitudes of some staff were patronising, while others were reluctant to work with disabled pupils. These attitudes were likely to be reproduced in the attitudes and behaviour of non-disabled students towards their disabled peers. The result of such attitudinal prejudice among peers may be critical. Haring, (1991) argues that peer acceptance is a primary outcome of schooling, with important outcomes for the quality of life of students with disabilities. (Shah, S, 2005)

As discussed by Ainscow (1999), Inclusion is a feature of the Salamanca Statement which was agreed by 92 governments and 25 international organizations in 1994.

‘The statement argues that regular schools with an inclusive orientation are the most effective means of combating discriminatory attitudes, building an inclusive society and achieving education for all’.( Ainscow 1999, p74)

Cited by Thomas and Vaughan (2007), Rustemier argues that segregated schooling breaches all four principles underpinning the 1989 United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. These principles are:

  • Non-discrimination (Article 2) – all children should enjoy all rights without discrimination and on the basis of equality of opportunity;
  • The best interests of the child (Article3);
  • The right to life, survival and development (Article 6) – development is meant in its broadest sense, including physical health but also mental, emotional, cognitive, social and cultural, and ‘to the maximum extent possible’; and
  • The views of the child (Article 12) – children have the right to be heard and to have their views taken seriously in matters affecting them.

Rustemier goes on to argue that inclusion has come to mean almost everything but the elimination of exclusion. And that the current education system excludes and segregates large numbers of children from mainstream education because of learning difficulty, disability, and behaviour, despite claiming to have inclusion as its goal. (Thomas and Vaughan, 2004, p 23-24)

Joe Whittaker discusses, in an article which appeared in the Greater Manchester of Disabled People’s Magazine ‘Coalition’, the damage he believes is inflicted on disabled children and their local communities by a system of special schooling and segregation. He further argues that inclusive education will be prevented from being implemented in any meaningful way whilst this system continues. (Joe Whittaker 2001: pp. 12-16) [See appendix1]

Despite the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the growing number of people in favour of Inclusive mainstream schools and the closure of Special Schools, Government statistics show that there has been an increase in the number of Independent Special Schools in Scotland over the past few years. There has been a significant increase in pupils with Additional Support Needs attending both Primary and Secondary mainstream schools, and an increase in the number of pupils with IEP’S attending mainstream secondary schools. [See tables1, 2: appendix 2]

There are many reasons why secondary pupils are deemed to need additional support in school. According to the statistics there are 1,816 pupils with Social, emotional and behavioural difficulty; 1,403 of these being boys and only 413 girls. The statistics show that there are significantly more boys with additional support needs than girls. [See table4, appendix 2]

Why is it that there seems to be more boys than girls identified as requiring Additional Needs?

One reason could be that boys are seen as more boisterous than girls, thus reported as having behaviour problems, another reason could be that more assessments of boys have been carried out, compared to girls; resulting in an increase of incidences and prevalence. There is also the general assumption that girls mature more quickly than boys.

In November 2002 BBC News Online reported Schools in England were identifying more boys than girls as needing special help with their education.

‘New statistics on the gender of those with special needs reveal for the first time that 64% are boys and 36% girls. The gender gap is even wider in the most severe cases - those with formal "statements" of need: 72% are boys and 28% girls. Experts say the reasons are unclear but that a large factor might be teachers' perceptions of what constitutes problematic behaviour’.

It was also reported that children with special educational needs are being turned away from schools because of fears that they could affect their position in exam league tables. Children with ‘special needs’, account for almost nine-tenths of permanent exclusions from primary schools, and six-tenths of those from secondary schools. Almost five times as many boys as girls are excluded from school. This corroborates Rustemier’s argument that the education system excludes large numbers of children, especially those deemed to have ‘special needs’. The BBC also reported that the editor of The Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs, Lani Florian, said that it is not really known why there is a significant difference in the gender balance. (Gary Eason, BBC News online 2002)

This report implies that further research into the gender imbalance is required.

This report has been discussed by various people on a GTC forum and summarized by Allan Witherington - (efacilitator).

Many contributors offered observations from their own experiences in the classroom that confirm the described differences in attitude, learning style and attainment between boys and girls. Boys were said to be noisier and to lose interest more quickly, whereas girls were quieter, more reflective and better able to deal with written tasks. No-one contested the fact that the gender gap is real. A persistent theme was the need for teachers to deliver lessons offering a variety of learning experiences to cater for the different learning styles of all those in the class. When discussing the quote from a DfES spokesperson as saying, "There appears to be some evidence that professionals, including teachers, are likely to identify boys as having SEN particularly in relation to behaviour." The question was asked “are they suggesting that the perceptions of the professionals are incorrect? Are we just missing the special needs of girls because they are less obvious”? There seemed to be no response to this! (GTC forum, internet source)

Cited in ‘A study of children and young people who present challenging behaviour’ – literature review, Cole et al (1998) (1999) established that there were ten to twelve times more boys than girls in English EBD schools and over three times as many boys as girls in PRUs (Pupil Referral Units). This creates very real difficulties in ensuring that girls have a suitable peer group if they attend a ‘mixed’ EBD school. Egelund and Hansen (2000) noted a 5:1 boy:girl ratio in segregated provision in Denmark. In Scotland, Lloyd and O’Regan (1999) report that over 80% of the pupils in specialist provision for SEBD are boys. Fortin and Bigras (1997), note that boys heavily outnumber girls in Canadian literature on EBD. (Ofsted 2005)

This literature review was commissioned by Ofsted as part of a large-scale survey to inform the report ‘Managing challenging behaviour’. Ofsted commissioned the University of Birmingham to carry out this research to inform subsequent fieldwork, and gives the assumption that the Gender imbalance is International, and Social Emotional and Behaviour difficulties is one of the categories that creates the most problems.

In 2008, a study carried out by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, (OECD), a group of national experts on Special Needs Education, reported that the gender data that has been gathered over the past 10 years has shown significant consistency, and corroborates the afore mention literature review.

‘For students with disabilities in virtually all countries providing data, the ratio of boys to girls across all levels of education is close to 60:40. For those with learning difficulties, the difference is even greater, being closer to a two-thirds/one-third split. For those with disadvantages, the ratio is close to 50:50 with the exception of those students with disadvantages in special schools where the ratio is above a two-thirds/one-third split. These students are all receiving additional resources (i.e. over and above the resources provided for all students) to assist their education. It follows that boys are receiving a greater share of the available resources than girls’. (OECD, 2008)

school level

The gender imbalance is also significant in the school in which I work. Within the local authority in which I work, there are 4 special schools, 17 secondary schools, and 152 primary schools, of which, 14 secondary schools and 28 primary schools have a unit for pupils with additional support needs.

The school in which I work is one of 14 secondary schools within the Local Authority which have a special unit.

In the Additional Support department there are 42 boys, but only 18 girls registered.

The authority state that a primary or secondary school is identified as having an integrated special unit/class if the sole or main purpose of any class or other unit forming part of the school is to provide education specially suited to the additional support needs of children or young persons selected for attendance at the class or unit by reason of those needs.

The School

The school is a large rural secondary comprehensive school which aims to ensure that all pupils, regardless of circumstance, be given every opportunity to succeed and attempt to achieve their full potential.

The school Inclusion Policy states it is the intention to include as many children as possible into some aspects of a mainstream school day. The school can cater for all students in the catchment area except those who require daily hospital residential care.

For a small number of pupils inclusion could mean that they are in the same school as mainstream children, have their break times and their lunch times with mainstream classes, and attend mainstream subjects taught by a mainstream teacher as part of their S.E.N. class. They would also be able to attend activities arranged for their year group such as induction days, assemblies and trips. For other pupils it will mean that they are included into mainstream classes for part of their week. Some pupils will be mostly taught in mainstream, with one or two subjects in the Additional Support department, and vice versa. The decision of how much inclusion or when inclusion is suitable will be made at each student’s annual review; or on their entry into the Special Education Department. This means that parents and professionals will decide together what is most appropriate for each child. Whatever decisions are made can be altered as and when appropriate. Each pupil’s needs will be assessed every year to ensure that past decisions are still appropriate. All students in the SFL department will have an IEP and annual review meetings will be held to discuss progress.

The support for learning team in the school consists of: Additional Support Needs (ASN) Department, Learning Support Department (LS), Sensory Impairment Department (For Visual and Hearing Impairment), Promoting Education Pupil Support (PEPS), and Auxiliary Support.

Additional Support Department:

Support of pupils who are not full time mainstream because of mild, to severe and complex learning difficulties and / or who for significant emotional, psychological or other reasons are unable to attend large mainstream classes.

In addition, the SFL team liaises with a wide range of outside agencies including: the social work department, the community education team, the educational psychology services, the police, the medical services, family support for workers.

Although the school Inclusion Policy states it is the intention to include as many children as possible, the pupils attending the AS department where placed in a separate Guidance house from the rest of the school. The registration group I was assigned to when I joined the school, consisted of a mixture of 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th years. There is an assembly held every week for each year group. The day and time for the assemblies is announced on a daily bulletin, and the days change each term. The assembly day and time for the 5th and 6th year has never included those pupils from the AS department.

As part of my research I interviewed the Head Teacher about inclusion and he said that when he first started at the school, which was not long ago, he was horrified to find that there was a separate House for the pupils with additional needs.

As from August 2008 there will be a new House System put into place, instead of 7 houses there will be 5. To promote the further integration and inclusion of pupils with additional support needs, all pupils will be assigned to a mainstream Registration Group, and House.

The Head Teacher feels that Inclusion does not just mean integration; it means participation in all aspects.

Promoting education

The school has a whole school positive behaviour policy which provides the framework for classroom practice.

There are school sanctions in place which are:

  • Official verbal warning.
  • Move to another seat.
  • Letter to parents.
  • Send to 'Time Out Room'
  • Referral to Principal Teacher.
  • Referral to Senior Staff.

A key element of the behaviour policy is that the school does not accept any form of physical, verbal or emotional abuse, e.g. name calling, threatening behaviour or swearing.

The vast majority of pupils are a credit to themselves, to the school and to their parents, and the school believes this should be recognized. "Well Done" slips are one method available to the staff at to communicate good news about an individual'’ achievement. Pupils react positively to receiving these and value the recognition they bring.

Pupils within my classroom

The group of pupils I teach are in their 1st year at the school. Their additional needs include; social, emotional, behavioural, and difficulties in learning, understanding, listening, and following instructions.

When I first started at the school there were 9 pupils in my class. There are now 14. The additional 5 pupils have been reported as having difficulties in some subjects, and have therefore been removed from some mainstream lessons such as Science and Modern Languages, and placed in the AS Department. This seems to be more like exclusion rather than inclusion!

When incidents do occur in the classroom, the type of behaviour generally falls into one of three categories:

  • Muttered or low-key threats, swearing or name-calling, chair/table tipping, refusal to co-operate with a group or another child or an adult, books or pencils swept off a table.
  • Aggressive, verbal abuse with shouting directed towards another pupil or adult; objects such as a pencil or rubber thrown at someone or something.
  • Physical aggression directed towards another child.

Three pupils in particular display this type of behaviour. They are continually muttering low-key verbal abuse to each other; this is usually directed at one individual, by the other two, who then explodes and becomes angry and aggressive, although this pupil can often start the bickering, and then blame everyone else. He does not recognize his own part in it.

The three pupils’ unwanted behaviour could stem from a number of factors including their home life as described in the pupil analysis for each of them.

Pupil A analysis

Pupil A is a first year pupil, aged 12yrs. His home life has been very unstable due to being mistreated by his father and an alcoholic mother. He has a younger sister, and an older brother who is in prison.

Pupil A has attended at least 5 different primary schools before moving to secondary school, and has moved accommodation quite frequently. There was a Supervision Order put into place for him and his sister in 2002 and they have both been in Foster Care since 2003.

During his primary schooling A missed quite a lot due to attending sessions at a children’s centre. The centre is a resource that supports young people aged 9-16 years who are experiencing difficulties at home, school or in the community. They provide a comprehensive package of group, individual and family support to enable young people to work through difficulties in their lives and to remain at home or within their educational placement. Sessions involve a range of activities that are designed to help the young person discuss and reflect upon their behaviour. It also aims to improve their social skills and self-esteem.

Pupil A can be volatile and attention seeking, and display immature behaviour in comparison with peers of the same age. He has difficulty in reading, and according to the reading age tests, has a reading age 2 years below his actual age.

He attends the Additional Support Department full time and has an IEP.

Pupil F Analysis

Pupil F is a first year pupil, aged 13years, but could be mistaken for an older child due to his large physical appearance, if it were not for his immature behaviour. He can display aggressive behaviour in and out of classrooms, and is supervised by Auxiliaries before and after school, during morning and lunch break, and moving around the school between lessons.

Pupil F lives with his mother. His father works off shore and he only sees him occasionally. He has an older brother in the army but there are reports of bullying when his brother is on home leave. F is also suspected of being aggressive towards his mother.

He is prone to anger out-bursts and has been excluded from primary school for aggressive behaviour towards staff and other pupils.

As a small child, F was diagnosed with speech and language delays, and behaviour problems.

Behaviour problems are common in children with speech and language disability. These include signs of frustration or anxiety, tantrums and, in older children, depression. Enuresis, soiling and sleep disturbances are common. Trying to gain attention by physical contact rather than by speech may be misinterpreted as aggression. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder affects some, as do autistic tendencies. (The Disability Handbook, p181, internet source)

The anger out-bursts and aggressive behaviour could be caused by the speech and language delay, as, according to the Disability Handbook, speech and language delays can cause behaviour problems, and Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in some children. F has also moved around quite a lot and attended various primary schools, and his home-life has been very unsettled. He does not like change, finds social interaction difficult, has a low self-esteem, and is inappropriate regarding invading others personal space. He had been working on controlling his behaviour in his primary school, a Traffic Light behaviour chart had been used in primary - this had been successful as he responded well to green. F has to be reminded about actions with others and must not be allowed to grab other people.

Pupil F has a RON and IEP.

During the time spent on the research for this assignment, F was being assessed by the educational Psychologist and Clinical Psychologist for ADHD. During this assessment I was requested to complete a Connors Teacher Rating Scale for F. The Connors Teacher Rating Scale is widely used and accepted for assessing children with suspected ADHD.

I also had a telephone call from the doctor involved in the assessment. The doctor asked specific questions about pupil F’s behaviour in the classroom and around the school. The doctor then gave me the impression that pupil F would be diagnosed with ADHD and prescribed Ritalin. I asked the doctor if this was the best management for pupil F. The doctor went on to talk about how effective Ritalin is, without actually answering my question.

I feel that sometimes, professionals take the easy option without further investigation. This thought was agreed with by one of the senior members of staff, who discussed another pupil being prescribed Ritalin, but was not a hyper active pupil. This was most likely not the best option for that pupil.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and attention deficit disorder (ADD) refer to a range of problem behaviours associated with poor attention span. These may include impulsiveness, restlessness and hyperactivity, as well as inattentiveness, and often prevent children from learning and socialising well. Some of the causes of ADHD can include family stress and educational difficulties.

Treatment for ADHD depends on a child's exact diagnosis. It should take into account any specific difficulties and those strengths that may aid their improvement.

Treatment of ADHD can include Behavioural management techniques, and for mild attention deficit problems they are the treatment of choice. US research suggests that medication is the best treatment for true ADHD. The most common and effective medications are amphetamine-like stimulants, such as Ritalin.

Ritalin reduces hyperactivity and impulsiveness and helps to focus a child's attention. They become less aggressive, seem to comply with requests, and become less forgetful. Many parents say their child's behaviour has vastly improved as a result of Ritalin. However, there is growing concern about the use of Ritalin to treat ADHD. Like amphetamines, Ritalin is classified as a class A drug. Many parents and professionals are worried about alleged side effects, including damage to the cardiovascular and nervous systems. (Net Doctor, internet source)

The assessment for Pupil F has now been completed; he is diagnosed with ADHD, and has been prescribed Ritalin.

Pupil J Analysis

Pupil J is a first year pupil aged 13 years. He is small in size compared to peers of the same age. His home life has been difficult but he does not like to talk about it, when questioned he has just shrugged his shoulders and said nothing. He does have an older sister, and also a much younger sister, but does not talk about them either.

In his primary school there have been low level behaviour problems, especially in the playground. He finds it difficult to accept change and has a low self-esteem. He is also desperate to be liked by his peers. In primary school he had been excluded, and the specialist teacher found him very difficult to work with.

J’s ability level is below the average expected for his age, he finds it difficult to listen and write information, and tends to forget the basics after the six weeks summer holidays, therefore he has difficulty in retaining information, and is also easily distracted.

He shows signs of immaturity when being told off, as he views the problem being that someone is ‘telling on him’, not that it is anything he has done or the way in which he has behaved.

J has reduced distance vision in his right eye, and is diagnosed with permanent visual loss in his right eye.

J has a RON and an IEP, and accesses the Additional Support department on a part time basis, and some mainstream classes, although during the school admission process, his parents requested full time Additional support, but the school felt that this would not be in his best interest.

As previously mentioned, the three pupils are continuously calling each other names; they also display other types of unwanted behaviour such as, continually calling out, and getting out of their seat without permission; pupil F displays anger and sometimes storms out of the room.

These pupils were chosen as the group to work with in implementing strategies to try to help reduce the frequency of unwanted behaviour because they have often been excluded from the classroom due to their behaviour, and find it difficult to get along with each other and work cooperatively together. Also, teachers have been informed by the Depute line manager for Support for Learning that if pupil F calls out in class he is to be put on level 1 straight away, if he does it again, level 2, and so on. By following this request, it would not take long before pupil F would be excluded from the classroom and sent to time out, and it is exclusion from the classroom that we are trying to stop. Continual exclusion can have a negative affect and hinder the progress of the pupils.

Monitoring Behaviour

Prior to putting strategies in place to help reduce the unwanted behaviour I would need to find out what type of unwanted behaviour is displayed. This was done by producing a monitoring sheet, (see appendix). Every time a type of behaviour was displayed, a tally mark was recorded on the sheet. Although this is actually acknowledging the negatives, it had to be done to enable me to try and reduce the unwanted behaviour. This would also help in identifying any particular time of day or lesson in which the behaviour occurred.

The monitoring was discussed with the pupils, and explained that if any behaviours were connected with a particular lesson, it would help me in identifying the reasons and possibly lead to changing the way the lesson is delivered to make it more interesting for them. Also, I feel that sometimes they do not realize when they are doing something inappropriate, and this would help to bring it to their attention, hopefully leading to thought before action.

As I am not their only teacher, I explained the monitoring sheets to colleagues and asked them if they could also add tally marks. Colleagues said they would, but in actual fact they did not record everything. In this respect, collaboration with colleagues was a little difficult. I also gave a monitoring sheet to the Pupil Support worker as she has been working on anger management with pupil F, to pass on to the Drama teacher, as she attends the Drama lessons with him, but the monitoring sheet was never passed on; therefore, most of the monitoring was carried out with only myself as the class teacher.

At the beginning of each week the results charts (see appendix) were discussed with each pupil, individually.

The results charts show that the major unwanted behaviour from all three pupils was talking out of turn (calling out), hindering other pupils (turning around and chatting), and work avoidance (fiddling with objects and/or pretending they’re working when actually doing nothing). Some verbal abuse (name calling, shouting at each other) was also displayed, mainly from pupil F, who puts the blame on others and says they are annoying him, when in actual fact they have sometimes done nothing. When pupil F puts the blame on others, they then retaliate by shouting back.

All of the pupils in the group respond well to praise, and this was one of the strategies used. When they have produced some good or improved work; worked and behaved well throughout the lesson, they would be given a stamp in their school organizer. When they have collected 5 stamps they would get a well done slip sent home. They would also have constant reminders to put their hand up if they need help or want to say something instead of calling out.

The results charts showed that Monday and Friday afternoons were the worst days. One of the lessons on Monday afternoons is English Grammar. All the pupils in the group are working individually from different Grammar books. I feel it would be better if they were all at the same stage, to enable whole class teaching and discussions about the topics. The pupils find it boring doing individual book work, and easily lose interest. As they were working in this way when I first started at the school it would be difficult in changing this as I was informed they had to complete the books. Therefore, the strategies used during this lesson included constant checking of their work and writing the dates and times of checking in their books. Also, targets were set to complete certain pages during the lesson. This strategy did help in reducing the frequency of work avoidance during the English Grammar lessons, as shown in the results charts (see appendix).

On a Friday afternoon the pupils were doing the ASDAN Stepping Stones Award. Although the Stepping Stones course is aimed at primary 6 to 7 pupils, it was felt by their previous teacher, to be appropriate for their level of ability, which according to the 5 –14 Guidelines, is lower than the average expected for peers of the same age. The guidelines are based on fixed ability thinking/labeling. Ability labeling can have an affect on the attitude and behaviour of teachers towards children, for example, a colleague suggested that unless there was a support teacher in the class, she would not want the children with additional needs in the classroom; this was suggested because the support teacher had been requested to cover another lesson, despite the fact that there was an Auxiliary present. Ability labeling can also have an effect on the children of how they are perceived by teachers, and can live up to or down to expectations. Young people labeled has having ‘moderate learning difficulties’ are thought to be inadequate in cognition, memory and language, a short attention span and lower social skills, as well as having a low overall attainment compared with their peers. (Hart, Dixon, Drummond & McIntyre, 2004)

The ASDAN Stepping Stones programme provides the opportunity for pupils to acquire, develop and record their skills, and accredit them with certificates of achievement. There are 64 challenges in total to choose from. A minimum of 8 challenges, with at least one from each of the four study areas, should be successfully completed to be accredited with an ASDAN Stepping Stones Award.

The pupils had completed two of the challenges with the previous teacher, who chose the challenges for them.

Article 12 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child states that When adults are making decisions that affect children, children have the right to say what they think should happen and have their opinions taken into account. (UNICEF)

The right to be heard extends to all actions and decisions that affect children’s lives including education, (Lansdown, 2005), and, as Hart et al point out, the attributes of deficit labeling and thinking, do not account for the array of influences, both external and internal, which affect young people’s capacity to think, interact with others, recall prior learning and become absorbed in productive and meaningful activities. (Hart, et al, 2004)

When planning to take over the teaching of this course, I decided to take into consideration Article 12 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, encouraging the pupils to choose the challenges for themselves. Also, the points made by Hart et al, that all young people are capable of making valuable contributions to their own learning, and that of others, and by choosing the topics themselves, they would be more interested in joining in and taking part, thus encouraging more inclusive practice within the classroom.

Choosing the challenges was done through taking turns at reading the information about each challenge to encourage each pupil to practice their reading skills and become more confident with reading aloud, and participating in decision making.

The tables in the classroom were arranged so that the pupils could sit in a circle, this would enable them to freely read, talk about, and discuss the issues without having to turn around or stand at the front of the room. They chose the challenges they thought were interesting, through reading and discussing the advantages and disadvantages of each one, then democratically voting for the one they wanted to start on first.

The first challenge they were all agreed on, was looking after wildlife. This involved making bird feeders, planting Sunflower seeds, and making an animal friendly window box, to attract bees, butterflies and other pollinating insects.

The pupils were encouraged to discuss how best to approach this challenge, and thought that splitting into groups would be a good idea, each group completing a different part of the challenge.

One group found this a little difficult at times as one of them, pupil F, finds it difficult to work with others and gets frustrated and sometimes annoyed when others don’t agree with him. There were occasions when he was advised to go out of the room for a drink of water. I have found that using this strategy helps to calm the situation, on his return to the classroom he is more composed and relaxed, and ready to continue and work more cooperatively with others.

During the week the pupils were able to watch the birds coming to feed, and were very interested in looking up the names of the birds that came to feed.

Delivering the lessons in this way encouraged all pupils to take part and make valuable contributions to discussions and decisions. No one was excluded from the lesson and sent to the time-out room. The activity lasted for 3 weeks and during that time the frequency of unwanted behaviour had reduced each week, as shown in the appendix.

Conclusion As Shah discusses arguments in favour of, and against segregation, it becomes clear that there are a number of authors that support both viewpoints, for example, Jenkinson (1979) argues that with smaller classes and higher teacher pupil ratios, special schools allow concentrated one-to-one attention and tuition which can be delivered at a level appropriate to each child’s needs, yet, at the same time, she also says that the small number of staff in special schools, along with their considerably limited, curricula expertise, restricts the range and content of the curriculum and feels the lack of training and experience of most special school teachers in the secondary curriculum to be a growing obstacle as students with disabilities move into adolescence. Barnes (1991) stresses that one of the principal functions of segregated education is to protect disabled children from the rough and tumble of the normal environment, at the same time, arguing, that being in a protective, segregated environment holds back disabled individuals from society.

These contradictory views lead to the belief that the authors feel that special schools do have their place in society, but not to the detriment of those attending, as in the past. People are different and diverse, and what is suitable for one may not be suitable for another, in that, total inclusion in a mainstream school may be damaging for some pupils but more beneficial for others.

Perhaps this is where mainstream schools which have a special unit can be beneficial. This can be construed as partial inclusion. Pupils attending the special units can have access to the mainstream curriculum, and social interaction with their more able peers, at the same time, those who simply could not cope with mainstream institutions have the benefit of the caring special unit, where they can still have access to a similar curriculum as that offered in mainstream, and feel protected and less vulnerable.

Partial integration is often seen as combining the best of both worlds in special education: the student has access to special curriculum and small classes in the special school, while also having the opportunity to socialize and participate with non-disabled peers in extra-curricular activities that are not available in the special school. (Jenkinson, 1996, p 107-108)

As well as the gender issue, and it being reported that boys are more likely to be identified with Autism and EBD, according to the previously mentioned statistics table 4 (appendix 2), in 2006 there were 19 reasons for support for secondary pupils with Additional support needs compared with The 1944 Education Act which defined eleven categories of disability.

Perhaps the more recent Government Policies and initiatives have contributed to the increase! With the concept of Inclusion there are now more children and young people identified with additional needs attending mainstream schools whereas in previous years they would have been segregated into special schools, the additional rights of the parents could mean that more parents are requesting assessments for their children if they think there is a problem, resulting in more children needing additional support. There are many other reasons which were not previously recognized as Special Educational Needs such as some family circumstances, bullying etc.

OECD conclude that to address these gender issues, countries should look closely at the working of referral and ascertainment systems, education system and school biases against boys, which include curriculum and pedagogical issues. Teachers need to be made more aware of implicit biases and the implications of identification processes through initial and in-service training. Finally, more work is needed to gather data on both inputs and outcomes from more countries so that these questions can be addressed more objectively.

Some of the ways in which the ASDAN lessons were delivered have also been transferred to other lessons such as Religious and Moral Education (RME). When I first started at the school some of the pupils in the class were not interested in RME and would just ‘switch off’ during the lessons. Since changing the way in which the lessons are delivered by including more discussions, questions and answers whereby the views of everyone are discussed and valued, videos such as the Simpsons; those pupils who showed a lack of interest have now become more interested and participate in every aspect.

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