The Diverse Nature Of Sebd Education Essay

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Inclusion is thought to be a complex and debatable notion that raises many issues, challenges and dilemmas, especially for children with SEBD Both terms seem to cause confusion because of their multiple definitions, the different perceptions and the difficulty to be used in practice.

In general, inclusion of children with special educational needs (SEN) in mainstream schools is an important issue and all European countries have legislations encouraging inclusive educational settings (Evans & Lunt, 2002). Since the introduction of the term in Warnock Report (1978) and the Education Act (1981) that gave emphasis on SEN rather than on disability itself (Frederickson & Cline, 2009), inclusion of children with SEN has obtained various definitions. However, none of these is globally accepted (Armstrong, 2005) and its meaning still remains unclear (Nind & Wearmouth, 2006). In the beginning, inclusion should be discriminated from two other terms, according to United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF, 2012). Firstly, from segregation in which pupils are distributed to special schools related to their impairment. Secondly and most importantly, from integration as these two terms may be confused sometimes in practice. When students are integrated, they are placed in mainstream schools where children have to be adapted. The embracing meaning of Inclusion is a step further from integration as it requires radical structural changes of schools in curricula, material and processes to accommodate children ( Frederickson & Cline, 2009) and a mutual assimilation of social, cultural, curricular identity of the child ( Nowich,2008 ; Richards & Armstrong 2011). The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) refers this assimilation by emphasizing also the responsibility of the society to offer education to everybody

1 The phrase: "children with SEBD" instead of: "children who are identified as having SEBD" is used for reasons of brevity and not because of a biased approach towards them. Also, the term "SEBD" is used for reasons of consistency to the initial title of assignment as there is a debate explained below.

Androulaki Maria-Eleni. Concepts and Contexts in Special and Inclusive Education Essay.

and by defining that inclusion as a "process of increasing participation in learning

cultures and communities and reducing exclusion within and from education" (Unicef 2012,4p). This combination of increasing access and also of eliminating exclusion led Booth (2003) to think inclusion as an endless procedure.

However, it is not easy to perceive the term of inclusion in theory but also in

practice. That is why Giddens (1994) refers to an utopia that many desire but few really believe it can happen (Croll & Moses, 2000) while Slee (2004) metaphorically says that inclusion has become "jet lagged" to illustrate the variety of definitions existed for inclusion throughout the years. But what seems important is to perceive inclusion in a wider context in order to achieve it. This means that if the aim of eliminating segregated education is successful, it is only because society believes in inclusion and places emphasis on individuals' rights and not on their learning difficulties (Thomas, 1997). So, it is a matter of treating all children equally and not just in the same way (Wedell, 2008) and its meaning goes beyond putting children in the same place (Cooper, 2005).

On the other hand, SEBD is also considered a vague term because of lack of clarity and the diversity of their characteristics. Consequently, inclusion of children with SEBD raises many discussions throughout the years (Cole & Knowles 2011). Nevertheless, it was not until 1981 through the Education Act that emotional and behavioural difficulties (EBD) was introduced as a term and accepted for the first time. The previous Educational Act (1944) had instigated the term "maladjusted" by making a more medical approach of these difficulties whereas in the nineteenth century, these pupils were confused with delinquents or "mental defectives" (Cole & Knowles, 2011, 30p.). However, despite the abolition of ''maladjusted children'' as a definition, the Education Act in 1981 did not promote the inclusion of people with SEN in general.

Many researchers argue that there is not a globally accepted definition for children with SEBD (see for example Benett & Aalsvoort, 2005) so it is used as a quasi-official term that concerns students' behaviour described as "disruptive", "challenging" or "at risk" (Clough, Garner, Pardek & Yuen, 2005 p.7). However, many changes in policy have been made through governmental documents in order to encourage inclusion of these students in mainstream schools (Goodman, 2010). For instance, SEN Code of Practice (2008) explains SEBD as : "a learning difficulty where children and young people demonstrate features of emotional and behavioural difficulties such as: being withdrawn or isolated, disrupting and disrupted; being hyperactive and lacking concentration; having immature social skills; or presenting challenging behaviour arising from other complex special needs" ( DCSF, 2008, paragraph 49).

Indeed, it is an imprecise term, as Goodman and Burton note (2010), that is connected with internalizing and externalizing behaviours but also with other difficulties such as problems in learning. Furthermore, reflections should be made about how to realize the aims of an effective inclusion, especially when these are not clarified and why all these barriers for its achievement exist. Is it appropriate to talk about a gap between theory and practice? Jull (2009) summarizes that inclusion of children with SEBD faces many problems in implementation because of lack of educational and administrative organization but also because of the behaviour of students as the main difficulty to achieve inclusion. Indeed, children with SEBD are at great risk of being excluded (DfeS, 2004) as their antisocial behaviour is thought to be a great challenge for schools. (White Paper 2010; Green Paper, 2007).

The difficulties briefly outlined above highlight the complexity of issues of inclusion of children with SEBD. As a result, this paper focuses on an analysis of these barriers in the English educational context and on a recommendation on possible ways to overcome them. It aims to show that despite the problems, inclusion can be achieved by understanding individual needs and intervene correctly to help children. Therefore, connections will be made to my own personal experience in Greece as a six months volunteer teacher of language to adolescents with autism and Down syndrome who also faced SEBD.

Issues, challenges and dilemmas of inclusion of students characterized as having SEBD

The different terms for social, emotional and behavioural difficulties.

Many researchers such as Kauffman (2005) have discussed the variety of definitions and also the persistent confusion for the meaning of SEBD. Moreover, Winzer (in Clough et al., 2005) has noted the ambiguity of SEBD from a cultural perspective by illustrating that it has many different meanings among cultures while in others, the notion of their inclusion does not even exist. For instance, although research has shown that Greece is trying to follow the European trend of educational system and that teachers also face some behavioural problems (Didaskalou, 2001), there is not yet any kind of provision for children with SEBD as the only category of SEN that is recognized is children with ADHD. What is more, the notion of a permanent teacher for special needs does not even exist after obtaining a bachelor in the field.

Despite the geographical and cultural aspect, the terminology also depends on the vocational field and the opinion of each person (Rayner, 1998). Except from maladjustment that was used in the past, there is another general definition; the challenging behaviour that is generally described as an antisocial behaviour that becomes a major obstacle to learning (Farrel, 2003). Thirdly, EBD is a term appeared in the 1950' s but commonly used in the 1980' s (Cole and Knowles 2011). It is also, according to Cooper and Jacobs, a definition preferred in Northern Ireland and USA in medical and psychiatric fields.

Moreover, SEBD is a common term in Scotland, preferred by health and social care professionals (Cooper and Jacobs 2011) but also by the Social, Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties Association (SEBDA) that emphasizes the impact of the social and emotional factor on increasing the problem of behaviour. In the end, there is the term BESD that is used in England and highlights the biological factor and children themselves as the main cause of "bad" behaviour by putting first the letter "B" (Cole and Knowles, 2011). However, the term depends on each author's choice, especially for the terms SEBD and BESD that are used interchangeably (Cole & Knowles, 2011).

Despite the different ways in which SEBD can be defined, more attention should be given to the stigmatization or bullying followed by this label. What should be taken into account is that defining a child as having SEBD is a difficult case and that a behaviour that does not seem to be tolerated in one context may be valued in another (Cooper,2005).

Problem of labelling

Apart from the problem concerning the variety of definitions and labels we put on these students, there is a more general dilemma; the label itself. It is supposed that labels, helpful or not, they describe a diffficulty and make it seem more easily understood to people (Lauchlan & Boyle 2007) while they create a commitment to work with these students and approach them because of their disabilities. (Ho, 2004). But in case of SEBD, the label is not followed by a resilience to their difficulties in contrast to those for example who have learning disabilities. We blame them by making assumptions that they are able but unwilling to behave better (Clough et al., 2005). This attitude has been called as "zero-tolerance approach" (Skiba 2000) that ends up in exclusion of children. So, the question that arises is if labels help or only stigmatize our behaviour towards these children.

Lauchlan and Boyle point out a vicious circle of this situation by saying that labels lead to sympathy, then to lower expectations and finally to lower results. So, is it all a case of "bad mouthing" as Corbett (1995) questions? Flick (2011) illustrates that there are advantages and disadvantages of labelling. Funding for schools is a positive impact but the financial resources do not lead automatically to a solution as SEBD are dependent from many factors such as the environmental that may be downgraded through labelling. As a result, he suggests to see each child as a unique case and consider the stigmatization that labels cause. It seems to be a difficult dilemma whether to use labels or not but I think that in any case, the focus of schools and society should be put ,as far as it is possible, on each child and his/her needs and not on what label characterizes him/her.

The diverse nature of SEBD and the causes of their development.

The different manifestations of SEBD and their impact on the inclusion of children.

SEBD are expressed through a wide range of different ways and severities (SEBDA, 2006) and are strongly connected with mental and health conditions (DfES 2001). The American Psychiatric Association(APA) has made a division between two categories, the externalizing and internalizing manifestations of SEBD. The first is linked with many other conditions such as the ADHD or the Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) while the second one with feeling of children such as withdrawn behaviour, depression or anxiety. Many researchers also note that children with SEBD also have special educational needs and relate them with learning difficulties. (e.g Kenneth et al. in Clough et Garner 2005). But, it is the problems they face that lead children to have more difficulties than their peers (SEBDA, 2006). So, one disorder can increase the possibility of the emergence of another one and that is how a vicious circle is created (Carroll et al. 2005).

However, it is interesting to understand why there is so much interest on this field of complex manifestations of SEBD and if this should actually be a matter of reflection for schools when the subject of inclusion arises. The effort of describing these conditions may exist because of the interest of many researchers, of the medical model that accompanies each disorder (Benett 2005) and their high percentages as it has been found that approximately 9% of children with special needs are also thought to deal behavioural difficulties (Flick, 2011). In case of schools, it seems to be important mostly because of the externalizing conditions which have an impact on students' learning performance but also to the emotional and physical impact on the educators, peers and their parents who complain afterwards to the school (Squires & Caddick, 2012). Indeed, it is thought that there is no other educational problem that can be linked so much with sentiments of fear or anger as that of the disrupted behaviour of SEBD (Cooper, 2008) which may prevent a positive climate in school and the emotional balance or academic progress of all children (Jull 2009). So, the issue of respecting the rights of all people and children in case of inclusion arises and reminds the five aims that should be achieved for every child according to DfES (2003) : his/her health, safety, enjoyment, economic well-being and positive contribution to the society.

Moreover, inclusion also seems to be a major challenge for children with SEBD in case they are victims of bullying at school as this may lead to an increase of their internalizing conditions (Cooper, 2005). It is also a challenge for teachers to respond to everybody's needs and possibly also change the way of teaching and approach to succeed (Scruton in Richards & Armstrong, 2011). The needs of teachers should also not be disregarded as the disrupting behaviour of pupils may undermine their authority at school, cause them stress or a feeling of failing to achieve their targets. (Cooper ,2005). In any case, teachers' focus should not be on defining deficits but on the learning process and their relationship with children (Rayner, 1998).

Causes of SEBD

Although the terminology and the identification vary between cultures and professions, there is an agreement concerning the responsible factors for SEBD ( Winzer,in Clough et al. 2005). It might be a result of biological, psychological, environmental/social (Cooper 2005) or educational conditions such as the curriculum or the school environment (Rayner ,1998). The biological is emphasized by the medical model but the factor that might influences more is the environmental one. It includes the the family itself that might face harmful situations for the psychology of a child such as parental conflicts, the low social and economic status or the school that punishes deviant behaviours (Ayers, 2002). Steer report recognizes that family, school, government and in general the whole society is responsible for the behaviour of children but in the meanwhile it clarifies that parents have the highest responsibilty of the upbringing of children and consist the requisite starting point before the child will be exposed to wider contexts that will encourage his/her development.

To sum up, there are many causes for the emergence but also the development of SEBD. However, we should always keep in mind that it depends on different cultural and individual beliefs of every environment if a certain behaviour will be dealt as a difficulty (Cooper, 2005 ; Clough et al., 2005). Specifically in education, they may be affected by teacher's pedagogic abilities, their level of tolerance or more widely by the policy and ethos of the educational setting (Ayers, 2002). So, in order to achieve inclusion, we should consider the child as a whole and take into account all the possible parameters of the problem; the child's predisposition and heredity, the family context concerning the parent's care and control, the school context and the relationships with peers (Mooij & Smeets, 2009).


Reflections on the high percentages of exclusion .Its causes and consequences

It is interesting that despite the extended discussion concerning the inclusion of children with SEN, the percentages are still high and especially students with SEBD are thought to be at great risk of being excluded (DfES, 2004) and sent to pupil referral units (PRU); special settings for those who are expelled from mainstream schools( ). It has been noticed a rise of 3% of participation in special schools for children with significant SEN in UK between 2004 and 2008 , a fall of special classes in mainstream schools and a creation of new SEBD schools in some local authorities (Cole & Knowles 2011). Slee (2001) comments that schools always included exclusions in their policy for different reasons: sexuality, faith, race, intellectual or behavioural state. However, exclusion is something more than the reaction to behavioural problems of SEBD such as aggression or disobedience (Cooper,2005). He aptly describes it as the unsuccessful adaptation of the child in the mainstream educational setting but also the unsuccessful adaptation of the school to the needs of the child.

As a result, the challenge schools have to face firstly is to understand the reasons of a "bad" behaviour. It may be a sign of ineffective interventions from the school or the result of pressure on the students in order to achieve higher scores in comparison to other schools. It may also be a way of reacting to teaching methods, to curriculum or even to unfair treatment (Scruton in Richards & Armstrong, 2011). Last but not least, the withdrawal of teachers or peers may be an attention-seeking behaviour even in an negative way or a feeling of fear of a possible attachment to somebody that will reject them afterwards (Cooper, 2005).

Whatever the causes are, there are many consequences of schools exlcusion. It leads to further poor academic achievement by putting students in off-site units where educational standards are low (Ofsted 1995) as well as to social exclusion by characterizing them as delinquents (Cooper). What is more, this is also a sign of marginalization and failure of society to achieve its targets (Parsons 2011).

Consequently, the target seems still to be complicated. What do we try to manage? Inclusion or integration ? According to DfES 2004, inclusion means much more than attending a certain type of school. It is the quality of experience we offer to students as well as the way we contribute to their learning and give them the chance of a full participation in schools' activities. So, if we choose mainstream schools, we should also be prepared to really accept these children. But what kind of inclusion is that when exclusion and integration remain parts of it? And what are our thoughts for the feelings and future of a child when we deprive the right of belonging and being accepted? These were my thoughts when a teacher of the special school I was working for was threatening an autistic girl that she was going to be excluded because of her disrupted behaviour during literacy lessons. It was not a mainstream setting but still the sense of belonging to a group is very important and it cannot be used as a threat to a child without wondering the feelings of insecurity that we may cause. Finally, through the help of a psychologist and his several meetings with the girl but also the replacement of the teacher, the problem was solved.

Especially in mainstream schools where the pressure for raising achievement rates is higher, the dilemma concerns efficiency versus equity.That is to say between providing equal rights of education to everyone or an education that promotes continuous success. However, it seems necessary for schools to put more emphasis on the forgotten "E" of SEBD rather than on behaviour, its causes and difficulties in order to help them (Browers in Clough & al., 2005).

Gap between theory and practice. Does it really exist?

Norwich (2008) summarizes all the issues for inclusion of SEN by identifying three dilemmas in general. Firstly, the dilemma of identification that refers to the criteria that children are characterized as having SEN, of curriculum and whether it should be the same for all children and last, the dilemma location that concerns their inclusion or not to mainstream settings. Taking into account all the barriers, we may think that inclusion of children with special needs and especially with SEBD is problematic (Mowat, 2010) . Indeed, putting into practice the targets for inclusion and equal participation of children with SEBD seems to be a challenging issue (Clough & al. (2005) .

In this direction, Thomas & Glenny (2002) emphasize the importance of teacher's experience and way of thinking and suggest a deeper understanding of children rather than investigating methods of inclusion. It is evident that sometimes, policy writers do not have experience of school reality and as a result teachers often try to put theory into practice without even having the appropriate professionals to deal with SEBD and their inclusion (Goodman & Burton, 2010). However, we should not forget that analysis and theoretical approach is necessary, especially for such complex topics such as the inclusion of students with SEBD. Armstrong (2010) argues that inclusion of SEN, in general, should not be seen as a gap between policy and practice but as a complex issue of policy making. Indeed, this diversity creates all these problems in inclusion of SEBD but it is also this diversity that we should value by avoiding an approach of "one size-fits-all" (Mowat, 2010,5p).

Are there limits to inclusion?

Full inclusion means that all children can be put in the same schools but also in mainstream classrooms without any special provision (Norwich, 2008). However, considering all the issues highlighted above, it seems that flexible measures are necessary in order to deal with the needs of each child separately (Ho, 2004). Significant though the issue of including children seems to be, it is interesting that until 2006, full inclusion was not supported in UK (Farrell, 2006) even though DfES (2001) highlighted this right of students with SEN. In conclusion, inclusion is an important topic for developing as well as for developed countries (Armstrong, 2005) but the concern is how and with what results we provide education to all children (Armstrong et al. 2000). Avramidis et al. (2002) point out that the notion of inclusion is most vividly demonstrated by the Salamanca Declaration (Unesco, 1994) which highly supports the belief that inclusive schools are the most suitable way of encouraging solidarity between all students. However, we should choose appropriate interventions or even make a whole school restructure to succeed effective educational settings for all (Ainscow & al.1994).

Possible ways forward

A child is a learner but also a human being with different social,spiritual needs and cultural background. There are some common needs for all children: the need of belonging, of communicating and of feeling respected. However, the key is to focus on their individual needs by promoting positive behaviour that also results to their learning progress (O' Brien, 1998). As O' Brien illustrates, there are two points to keep in mind for every child. The initial point of analyzing his/her needs and the ending point that concerns his/her progress. But there is a gap between these two called learning difficulty so the role of teacher and school is to find the appropriate provision to bridge this gap.

The important role of teachers and the debatable contribution of teaching assistants.

Teacher's role is to facilitate learning through positive behaviour. But, to a great extent, learning depends on teachers' actions in the classroom. The relationship between teachers and students is thought to be internationally a major reason for the evolution of SEBD (Cefai & Cooper 2010). What they say something and their tone affect children's feelings and progress (O' Brien, 1998). Teachers should encourage them through collaboration and also promote self-regulation that helps children show their skills and feel confident (Hill and Brown 2011). Self-monitoring help schools in their aims because of limited resources that they have (Jull 2009. However, Jull gives specific weight on the importance of self monitoring on a regular basis and not only when should problematic behaviour exists. Consequently, the motivation and raising self-esteem plays an important role even though all children cannot achieve the same things.( Hill & Brown ,2011; O' Brien, 1998). However, as the latter researcher point out, through differentiation, the teacher can discover what each child can do and help him/her to achieve it. Furthermore, a good planning of learning, information or discussion of classroom rules and the avoidance of punishment as a way of compliance may contribute to an effective teaching process (Flick 2011). Last but not least is to understand that it is not only the students who need support through many ways such as regular feedback but also teachers through continuous training in order to respond to all these challenges (Guskey,2002).

Teaching assistants may consist a good help even though their contribution is thought to be debatable. On the one hand, assistants are thought to have more active communication with SEN students but on the other hand, their help is thought to be ineffective ( Rubie..). The progress of students seems to become slower as the aid of teaching assistants increases ( Blatchford et al. ,2007) while they also feel less socially acceptable because of this provision ( Wendellborg & Kvello 2010). In any case, the diversity of needs of children should be regarded. Consequently, some children may need additional support but others may prefer small students' groups in order to communicate (Cooper, 2005)

The significance of close relationships within school.

Cefai & Cooper (2010) point out that a positive opinion for learning and as a result for the students themselves, is very important, especially for children with SEBD who are often characterized as deviant . According to Cole and Knowles (2011), this positive engagement to learning and a caring environment that make them feel safe can be assured through effective leadership at school and an enthusiastic head teacher to support the values of the school and the needs of the staff. Thus, the cooperation of colleagues is very important even though it does not seem to happen as mush as it should (Boorn et al.2010). Teachers need help from other colleagues in order to encourage effective practices by sharing their skills (O' Brien, 1998). Also, except from teachers, a multi-agency support such as psychologists or speech therapists is essential to support the targets (Mooij & Smeets 2009). But the most important is the close relationship between parents and schools. Nicholson (in Clough et al. ,2005) illustrates that the effort to create disciplined people in general is a responsibility of school as much as it is of home. In addition, Cooper (1998) describes that the target of inclusion cannot be seen through a narrow perspective of academic achievement and that it is vital to understand children's needs deeply. Because I had realized the importance of linking between home and school that also Todd and Higgins had pointed out (1998), I was trying to meet parents regularly through one to one sessions, to discuss the behaviour and progress of their children and to ask for their opinion concerning a problem. I also liked to call them at home to reward their child if he/she had achieved a high score. This close relationship with parents made me feel more comfortable while the knowledge of how they think, helped me to interact better with children and respond more efficiently to teaching's challenges.

Pupil's thoughts matter.

The importance of Circle time

DfES (2001) emphasizes the importance of pupils' opinions for the learning process and the expression of their needs. However, little attention is still given to their views (Groom & Rose in Clough et al., 2005; Cefai & Cooper 2010) and actually students with SEBD are considered to be the least listened (Lewis & Burman 2008). So, in order to communicate better with children, I was organizing circle-time meetings once a week for one hour with a classroom of children with Down Syndrome where I was teaching Greek language. It was a way of saying what we liked or not to the courses of the week, talk about our behaviour or even congratulate a child for helping another peer or being the most responsible. Children also liked playing the trust game where one was blindfolded and had to walk around some obstacles only with the guidance of another child and made every effort to walk faster every time. According to literature (Bornman, Collins, & Maines 2004; Mosley, 1996), through games and discussions, the circle time can help to create positive and honest relationships inside the team, care about other's problems and build self-esteem. Circle time can be proved to be an invaluable experience for children but in my case, it was also an opportunity to improve my teaching, to feel less stressful as I was and still am a new teacher and sometimes even to apologize for my behaviour too.


There are many assumptions about what inclusion should refer to (Campbell 2002). However, we should not try to find out whether schools are inclusive but to understand the procedures of inclusion and exclusion that occur within all of them (Avramidis 2002).

Inspired by the 3 l's (love, limitations, let them grow up) for nurturing children (Chapman, 1974), I suggest that we should see this 3 l's approach from a wider social aspect and understand how important are all the contexts of a child for his/her development. Children need to feel love to develop interpersonal relationships, limitations in order to know what consequences their attitude has to other people but also independence in order to develop their personality. The question that parents, teachers, schools and societies should ask themselves is not "Have I failed to help or include children in any respect?" but rather "Have I tried reasonably well in nurturing and educating them?".

This positive behaviour expressed through humour but also through respect and good work of teachers, lessens the possibility of disruptive behaviour of children while it increases their willingness to learn (Topping & Malloney 2005). As a result, the message that a child should receive from us is:

"I know that you may hit or kick me but I am aware that you need to develop a positive relationship with someone. I am that person. I will show you that we can begin to change those difficulties and that it is possible for someone to enjoy being with you" (O' Brien, 1998,11p).

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