There are a wide variety of strategies that can be used to ensure the inclusion of pupils with Special Education Needs ( SEN) within the classroom and the wider school community. I believe that it is possible and desirable for SEN pupils to be fully included in a mainstream classroom in which they can develop and thrive if effective strategies and resources are put in place to support and develop their abilities.
This video highlights important aspects and strategies for forming an inclusive classroom. This web page aims to look more closely at some of the point raised in order to be a resource for student teachers who wish to ensure their practice is fully inclusive of SEN children.
Effective use of resources:
Teaching Assistant: The effective partnership between teachers and the teaching assistant can help to form an inclusive classroom. However, the extent to which the teaching assistant can be effective is highly dependant on the way their role is understood by the class teacher. (Anderson,2011) The role of a teaching assistant can been seen as ‘bridging pedagogic boundaries by removing barriers to participation in the classroom’ . (Gerschel,2005:73). However there a number of issues that need to be considered, the ineffective use of a teaching assistant may in fact go against the concept of inclusion of SEN:
–Velcro effect– Gersche (2005) warns against teaching assistants being attached to single pupils which can result in emotional dependency and the pupil being less likely to be fully included in the class or form relationships with peers. –
Creates dependency from teacher– Blatchford et al argues that pupils with SEN are likely to benefit from more not less of the teachers time and that there is a danger that delegating responsibilities to the teaching assistant means that the teacher does not feel the need to consider ‘pedagogical approaches that might benefit the whole class’. To avoid these issues Ofsted (2008) has advised that an inclusive classroom is enhanced when teachers provide clear guidance to teaching Assistants and involve them with planning. Furthermore, Ofsted (2004) explain that the teaching assistant may be best placed keeping pupils on task rather than focus on improving their understanding and skills. Rose identifies that a teaching assistant played an important role in supporting whole classes rather than concentration on individuals with SEN, for example a teaching assistant monitored the work of the rest of the class while the teacher worked with a pupil with SEN. This image represent an efficient strategy for the use of teaching assistant to improve inclusion. The effective use of the teaching assistant will ensure that they have the opportunity to share ideas, seek advice and to give feedback to the teacher will allow the growth of a fruitful professional partnership, and can be a great support for an inclusive classroom. (O’Brien, T and Garner 2001:3)
The use of Technology: Technology can be an important tool for removing barriers to learning for SEN children. This video promotes the use of technology in the classroom and highlights how technology can help promote inclusion. Technology is ever-evolving and can be used to support the inclusion of SEN students in a variety of ways:
● Computers can improve independent access and autonomy. For example a child with sen may be able to work independently on the computer but not in more traditional literacy lessons. This would be a positive experience both in terms of learning, inclusion and building self-esteem and confidence. (Moore and Taylor, 2000; Waddell, 2000)
● Tasks can be tailored to meet individual needs: Students with SEN are able to accomplish tasks working at their own pace and with varying levels of support, the extra levels of support are not visible to peers. (ACE Centre Advisory Trust, 1999)
●Achievment in areas not possible through traditional methods. Visually impaired students or other SEN can use the internet to access information alongside their sighted peers. (Waddell, 2000) ●Communication tool Students with profound and multiple learning difficulties can communicate more easily (Detheridge, 1997)
● Can be used in all aspects of school and leisure Increased ICT confidence amongst students motivates them to use the internet at home for schoolwork/ homework and leisure.
Used appropriately, with context in mind, technology can provide the learner with a range of sensory stimulation, encourage interaction, and allow additional control over the environment. This technology can allow the learner to demonstrate abilities that cannot be shown in any other ways and promote the concept of inclusion within the classroom. In order to use technology efficiently the teacher should have a clear understanding of what they expect the learner to achieve. Without clear objectives there is a danger of wasting time and money presenting the learner with inappropriate resources.
Assessment It is widely agreed that Assessment for Learning is a significant element in successful teaching and learning of teaching for all children and this includes those with SEN.
Where a child has very specific learning needs it is important that:
- Assessments and next steps in learning are based on close observation and detailed knowledge of the child.
- Individual goals or targets are set which are relevant and achievable.
- Goals and targets are reviewed regularly and progress is monitored.
- Progress is measurable – in small steps, appropriate to individual needs.
- Assessments leads to action – barriers to learning are identified early on and addressed with intervention programmes.
Peer Support: Peer support a key ingredient for an inclusive classroom. The use of peer support enables children within the class to build rapport and a sense of belonging to the community (both in school and on a wider scale). Student with SEN may become target of inappropriate or unkind behaviour from other pupils in the class .However, by educating the whole class and having members of the class become peer supporters, the problem of teasing is often minimised.
1) Have students in your class find out 5 things about other students, for example favourite hobbies, pets siblings. These kind of ice breaker activities support inclusion as it allows all children to feel part of the class. Activites such as this should be an ongoing project used throughout the school year.
- Learning together: supporting inclusion of disabled children Find out how to use our classroom activities and education resources for supporting disabled children in schools.
- In the Picture – early years picture books featuring disabled children.
- Imagine the Difference – has been developed by Scope to help children at Key Stages 1 and 2 to understand that every human being is different, and that difference is a positive thing.
Evaluation and reflection The need for constant review and reflection on the inclusion in your classroom is paramount, the classroom is a ever changing and evolving environment and as the needs of the pupils in your class change so should your practice of inclusion. –You can use this checklist to review your plans for inclusion within the school and classrooms. The Learning activities checklist is a useful guide for ensuring your approaches, lessons and activities are tailored for disabled and SEN pupils.
Disability and Inclusion
A Little Introduction
This page looks at Inclusion for the physically disabled child. It will cover the background of inclusion for disability, what changes and alterations have to be made and how the child feels about being in mainstream school.
The links between the Teachers’ Standards and inclusion for SEND are clear, and are found all the way through legislature for children with learning or physical difficulties. Here are some of the ways in which the Standards link up to SEND.
A teacher must
1 Set high expectations which inspire, motivate and challenge pupils
• set goals that stretch and challenge pupils of all backgrounds, abilities and dispositions
2 Promote good progress and outcomes by pupils
• be aware of pupils’ capabilities and their prior knowledge, and plan teaching to build on these
• demonstrate knowledge and understanding of how pupils learn and how this impacts on teaching
5 Adapt teaching to respond to the strengths and needs of all pupils
• know when and how to differentiate appropriately, using approaches which enable pupils to be taught effectively
• have a secure understanding of how a range of factors can inhibit pupils’ ability to learn, and how best to overcome these
• demonstrate an awareness of the physical, social and intellectual development of children, and know how to adapt teaching to support pupils’ education at different stages of development
• have a clear understanding of the needs of all pupils, including those with special educational needs; those of high ability; those with English as an additional language; those with disabilities; and be able to use and evaluate distinctive teaching approaches to engage and support them.
7 Manage behaviour effectively to ensure a good and safe learning environment
• manage classes effectively, using approaches which are appropriate to pupils’ needs in order to involve and motivate them
8 Fulfil wider professional responsibilities
• develop effective professional relationships with colleagues, knowing how and when to draw on advice and specialist support
• deploy support staff effectively.
Disability and Inclusion
The development of integration has helped to question whether children with disabilities should be taught in mainstream schools. “The main means of integration was seen as special units attached to mainstream schools. From these units children with physical disabilities could be integrated in a variety of ways:
- Locational integration: the children were on the same site but were kept separate;
- Social integration: the children mixed at social times, for example dinnertime; and
- Academic integration: the children attended some of the classes with their peers.” (Fox 2003: 2)
This, however, seemed to highlight the differences and segregate the children more than it made them feel like part of the school. Inclusion then became the main means of looking at how to include disability in a mainstream school. The subject of inclusion has become heavily discussed and talked about over the past twenty years. (Fox, 2003: 3)
Even though disability is not as common to see in the classroom as other SEN diagnoses, the number of children with disability who are part of mainstream school is increasing. Children with a physical disability often bring with them a range of other learning difficulties associated with psychological, social and educational well-being. This is something that teachers have to be aware of when teaching children with physical disability, because the role of the teacher in the child’s life at the school is seen as the main factor in inclusion. Fox has identified four modes that a teacher is to take when looking at inclusion for a physically disabled child, resignation, championing, mentoring and normalisation. I will briefly summarise these modes:
Resignation: A teacher who believes that nothing can be done for the disabled child in their class to help with inclusion.
Championing: These are teachers who champion the role of inclusion in school, and believe in the rights of the child to be included. They will push for change in the school to help accommodate these children.
Mentoring: Give help to other teachers about the ways to make their classroom inclusive for children with disability.
Normalisation: These teachers believe that all children should be included regardless of disability as part of inclusion- this means that they try and get the children with disability to do what any other child in the class room does.
This poster highlights the Ten Reasons for Inclusion that the CSIE state make an overwhelming case for inclusion in schools in the UK.
Being an Inclusive Classroom
There are lots of things that a teacher can do to make the class a more inclusive environment for the disabled child. This video (Anna’s and Visual Impairment in the Mainstream School)discusses how one school supports a child with visual impairment, it makes note also of the challenges it can sometimes bring but also the positive effect it has on Anna.
- Discussing the disability with the children, encouraging openness about disability discourages misconceptions and bullying. See below for some lesson plans for PSHE which help to with approaching the topic of disability.
- Making sure accessibility is good throughout the school, corridors, outside areas, classrooms.
- Developing lesson plans that can be translated into Braille, visual guides.
- As highlighted in Every Child Matters (2004), accessibility arrangements are important, including making sure the physical environment benefits the children and improving access to written information using alternative formats.
- Make sure all children have an IEP, this is a good tool to encourage them to become more independent and part of school life.
- Nurture groups are a fantastic way to build a child’s confidence up- children may have a mixture of backgrounds and stories which would benefit from making friends in these SENCO run groups.
- Get to know the child- a child who thinks the class teacher has a real interest in them will undoubtedly feel better about being in school.
- Don’t assume that all children with disability will have other issues, some will but not all.
- Take a look at this website for The Inclusive Classrooms Project it has lots of ideas, articles and discussions about inclusion in the classroom.
I created the following video as a more interactive way of accessing the issues surrounding the child at school and how their disability affects them. There was music accompanying the video but sadly it was taken off for copy write reasons.
- Archie’s Story – Archie has Cerebral Palsy, and he explains what life is like for him and how he wants others to see him. Good for introducing children to children with cerebral palsy, prior to them arriving in the class.
- Sean’s Friends – Sean is deaf, and this shows the efforts his school has gone to, to make sure that Sean is a part of the class. Some good ideas for teachers including the implementation of a Sign Language Club.
- Theo’s Story– Theo is blind, and in the video he talks about his karate, his friends and bullies.
- Whizz-Kidz Lesson Plans– This page has lessons for children from Key Stage One to Key Stage Four. Good for discussing the topic of disability.
- Finding the Right Words- A page dedicated to looking at the appropriate words to use when discussing disability. It also comes with a handy sheet to use in the classroom, Language- Positive and Negative
- SENSE – a charity that works with deaf and blind children. The link here is directly to their education page.
- CSIE– This is the web page for the Centre for Studies on Inclusive Education, there is a range of useful resources and documents related to encouraging nationwide inclusion.
- Anderson, V inTeaching and learning in diverse and inclusive classrooms: key issues for new teachers – Richards, Gill, Armstrong, Felicity 2011 (electronic resource)
- ACE CENTRE ADVISORY TRUST, 1999.Catchnet: the use of telecommunications technology to provide remote support and training to young people with access difficulties.ACE Centre Advisory Trust. http://www.ace-centre.org.uk/download/catchreport.doc
- Cheminais, R (2006) Every Child Matters: A Practical Guide for Teachers, London: David Fulton Publishers.
- DETHERIDGE,T.,1997.‘Bridging the communication gap for pupils with profound and multiple learning difficulties’.British Journal of Special Education, 24 (1),pp. 21-26
- Fox, M (2003) Including Children 3-11 with Physical Disabilities: Practical Guidance for Mainstream Schools London: David Fulton Publishers
- Gerschel,L, 2005 ‘The special education needs coordinators’ role in managing teaching assistant: The Greenwich perspectives’ Support for learning 20: 69-76
- Hodkinson, A. and Vickerman, P. (2009) Key Issues in Special Educational Needs and Inclusion, London: Sage
- Lewis, A (2003) Children’s Understanding of Disability London: Routledge
- Mansaray, A(2006) ‘Liminality and in/ exclusion: exploring the work of teaching assistants’, Pedagogy, culture and society 14(2) 171
- Moore,D, and Taylor J.,2000.‘Interactive multimedia systems for students with autism’.Journal of Educational Media,25 (3), pp. 169-175
- O’BrienT, and Garner, P (2001) ‘Tim and Philips story, setting the record straight’ in O’Brien and Garner (eds, ‘Untold stories, Learning Support Assistants and their work’ Stoke on Trent, Trentham Books
- Ofsted (2004) Remodelling the School Workforce, Phase 1, London : Ofsted
- (2008) The deployment, Training and development of the wider School Workforce, London
- Waddell, L.,2000.The pilot internet project: evaluation report. RNIB