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"Inclusive education is concerned with all learners, with a focus on those who have traditionally been excluded from educational opportunities - such as learners with special needs disabilities, children from ethnic & linguistic minorities, and so on (UNESCO, 2001)"
This is an inclusion which was set out by the guidelines for teaching. With that being the case it is hard to comprehend why some pupils with SEN, who "attend mainstream" school , are often still separated from their typically developing peers. This is known as integration and was identified to have 3 types; location, social or functional-(Warnock, 1978). . It can be seen by the study of pupils with SEN who attended classes in a special unit- Sinclair Taylor (1995). Here it was found that these students, even though they had SEN, were aware of how others around them thought about them and knew they were not like the rest of their typically developing peers due to this separation. The categorisation of those with SEN is based on medical principles and factors which Belanger (2000) researched and schools often abide by this model prior regardless of their consent or wish.
What features can be identified that are consistent with the recommendations from psychological theory & research?
Inclusive education is centred on the human right to education, which was asserted in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948:
"Everyone has the right to education..."
(art.26 - Universal Declaration of Human Rights)
From the present article it was addressed that the very characterization of what inclusion is to each person needs to be addressed in articles surrounding this topic, an as Booth and Ainscow (2002) pointed this out as being "fundamental" to inclusion but which is often left out, The present study does a good job to addresses their conceptualisation of what inclusion is early in the article.
From the Education Act (1981) and the Education (NI) Order (1986) the government had been planning a steady progression towards inclusion. This entails that all children should have access to a basic but good quality education- (Frederickson & Cline, 2002.) There is evidence that children can make appropriate progress in a mainstream setting if specific curriculum differentiation and teaching strategies are employed (Manset & Semmel, 1997). In the Foxwood inclusion, this was adhered to as the individual programs were developed for the needs of each child instead of them trying to fit into a rigid program or curriculum that would not serve their best interest. Pupil diversity is something which needs to be accounted for in order for successful inclusion to occur. Wedell (1995) also reported that rigid teaching methods and rules that only cater for typically developing students may cause issues for students with SEN. Local education authorities (LEAs) are now aspiring to explain 1why a child's needs cannot be met in mainstream schools if they have SEN, 2 why inclusion cannot be achieved without the interference to other children's education 3and why inclusion puts stress on resources portraying it to be complicated to provide schools with resources. Some have implied that the notion of inclusion extends further than simple integration. It is people's revised thinking that has led to a re-conceptualisation of "special needs". If difficulties had by the pupils are recognized, it makes progress more likely.
Communication between those involved in the child's integration into the new school was recognised by the Foxwood inclusion programme as being imperative.
Mainstream classes, preceding and during the first stages of introduction of pupils from the SEN school, were provided with a peer preparation package. This included workshop activities which were held by an inclusion team member and also the class teacher. This provided the students with information to aid their supportive interactions towards the children with SEN.
The children with SEN wore the same uniform as the rest of the children in the Foxwood inclusion scheme. This brought a sense of unity and belonging to the child as they were visually granted the sense of fitting in and being the same as the other students. This feature has been given more attention in the US than the UK.
What further developments could be suggested?
In a study carried out by El-Ashry (2009) the relationship and attitude of teachers towards children with a disability and their inclusion into mainstream schools was investigated. This showed a negative attitude from the teachers towards these children. However, teachers that reported a relationship with one of the children with a disability spoke more favourably of their inclusion. This could therefore be implemented in schools and reversed to find out the attitudes of children with SEN towards their teachers and in addition, the teachers' attitude towards them. It could give insight into the possibility of the child with SEN picking up on the teachers' attitude towards them and their thoughts on inclusion, whether it is negative or positive.
Transport to and from school would need to ensure the eradication of a visible barrier implemented between mainstream and SEN. If children with SEN are required to use "special transport" this is a visible separation of them from their peers e.g. "The yellow bus."
Goodman and Burton (2010) used "Semi-structured interviews to examine teachers' experiences and approaches to including students with BESD in mainstream education". They stated that they found this hard "due to a lack of resources and level of proficiency". Their work showed that although the amount of work done was extensive and therefore a variety of strategies for working with students with BESD identified, they were still concerned that teachers still raised by issues resembling those recognized in policy over 20 years ago. This would suggest that despite the changes that have been made; already established obstacles to ensure inclusion have yet to be addressed. There would need to be more classroom assistants available to aid the teachers as well as the students. Wedell (2000) actually stated that for effective inclusive education there needs to be a greater change than is currently acknowledged. Educational psychologists have a fundamental role to play, however the various demands placed upon them raises issues as to how they can focus on inclusion to achieve a desired outcome as well as support from specialist teachers (Takala & Aunio, 2005.) Therefore again there needs to be more resources and services available in any inclusion setting, however, the Foxwood inclusion did show evidence of this.
Information and communications technology has potential for learning among pupils, as has the development of peer tutoring. This could promote the sense of belonging and acceptance for children with SEN as well as a sense of responsibility towards them from their peers, which in turn may prove to lessen the extent of bullying.
Class Wide Peer Tutoring, (CWPT) was used to enhance the spelling performance and social interactions of three typical students and three students with mild disabilities in an investigation by Sideridis (1996.) The results showed a gain in the accuracy of spelling of all students, an increase of students' duration of positive social interactions and finally the satisfaction of students and teachers showed an increase also. Another study showed the same results, although slightly less clear cut, with respect to children with autism (Ward and Ayvazo 2006, Mc Donnell et al 2001.) If this was incorporated it could show success and promote desired emotional and social success for both the children with SEN and their peers. In such scenarios, teaching and learning becomes a collaborative activity.
How might the following aspects be investigated: the social competence & affective functioning of the children with SEN, and the attitudes & behaviour of their classmates towards them?
Gresham et al (1997) described this, social capability, as "multidimensional construct made up of social skills, adaptive behaviour and peer relationship variables." There are multiple ways in which social competence or ability can be investigated.
A technique which could be used would be the Roster and Rating Scale. It provides the children with a record of all those being targeted for the purpose of the results, i.e., their classmates. The numerical scale is explained and the child rates each child in accordance with this.
Forced Choice Group Preference Record is also one which can be used. Connolly (1983, cited by Frederickson & Furnham,) emphasized the risks of recognising unpopular children, yet, Fredrickson and Furnham (2004) argue that this investigative method is suitable for measuring social inclusion and also noted that few researches supported Connolly's claim as little evidence was found to reinforce it. Frederickson & Graham (1999) reported reliability and validity with regards to the data which the method produced. The present study investigated some of these aspects by examining the relationship between bullying and victimisation between children with SEN and their peers. In a review by Gresham (1997) it was concluded that children with mild disabilities had poorer social skills and also displayed more impeding problem behaviours. They were unsuccessfully accepted or discarded by peers. However, it is Important that the education provision gives additional attention to guarantee that children who have SEN are not subjected to severe social rejection since they lack expertise in key social and emotional areas. Dodge et al (1982) illustrated that children with SEN experienced difficulties in certain social situations as they found it difficult to interpret these situations in the way that their peers could.
The "Guess who" social behaviour, bully and victim measures developed by Frederickson & Graham (1999) was used in the Foxwood inclusion scheme and is useful for the indication of the students opinions to give an insight into the attitudes towards the children with SEN.
Some worried that if children with SEN were incorporated into a classroom or school with typically developing children, that the typically developing children would be disrupted. However research by Kalmabouka et al (2007) found there to be no unfavourable effects for the first initial students when SEN children were included in the school.
In the Foxwood inclusion article, it was reported that Trends in peer reports of bullying suggest that there is no room for complacency and that ongoing monitoring is required. Humphrey (2008) worryingly admitted that after their research for including children with SEN among their peers that "none of the strategies outlined here or elsewhere are likely to be successful unless they are underpinned by core values and attitudes that include respect for (and celebration of) diversity."
Conclusion of inclusion
The current Foxwood inclusion scheme made use of existing research and strategies, as well as guidelines for successful inclusion. The pupils were well supported and accepted contrary to Warnock's (2005) uncertainties. The peer preparation package may be responsible for the differences among the results of acceptance. They admitted more research would be insightful. In order for the concerns of bullying and acceptance within the classroom, the literature could be further examined to put into place any suggested which may further improve the situation. Combined work on inclusion along with the future developments discussed above could hopefully replicate the results shown by the Foxwood scheme except on a more universal scale. The inclusion of a child would usually come about by the requests of the parent or the child; therefore it is the figures in the educational system, students and parents etc to ensure the child's experience is worthwhile.