The following post, which I am delighted to host, is from a teacher with significant experience in both mainstream and special schools:
Looking at inclusion from my outreach perspective I would say parental views, i.e. parents with strong preferences and the ability to take on Local Authorities, do have their views and wishes met, not always to the benefit of the students. I have been to several mainstream schools to support teachers, more often TAs, in including students in school. My personal view, which is not popular, is that students are included only in that they are under the same roof as the rest of the school.
A lot, but not all teachers, feel that the student who is working, sometimes several levels below the peer group, is not their responsibility, but the responsibility of the TA who has become velcroed to their side. It is a credit to these people that they are more often than not highly motivated to do the best for the student.
In the teachers defence, the lead must come from SLT to encourage inclusion, proactively and not just in name. However, we all see the pressures schools are under to achieve the magic Outstanding and testing of students to prove this. These aims do not allow, especially in small schools, for one or two to be working below expected NC levels.
In most cases this is indefensible and the students suffer through lack of understanding of how to work with students with varying degrees of learning disability, ASD, Down’s syndrome, or even those with chaotic family backgrounds. These students are not being ‘awkward’, ‘know exactly what they are doing’, ‘lazy’, ‘stubborn’ or just downright unteachable. They are children, young people with specific issues, which, if addressed can have successful and happy school experiences.
The answers surely lie in training and more emphasis on individuals and how best to support schools and staff in ‘inclusion’, if that is the aim!
If you would like to contribute to the inclusion debate and would like to guest blog on this site please tweet or DM me @jarlathobrien.