This workshop is based on the Shenton Inclusion Project which began in January 1999.
Shenton is a Leicester inner city mainstream primary school having around 470 children on role. In January 1999 four EBD statemented children were transferred to Shenton from a special school within the City and this number has now grown to nine (five fully statemented from the special school, four Shenton pupils - two fully statemented and two on stage 3). Initially one specialist teacher and two classroom assistants were transferred with the children and in May 1999 were joined by a second teacher and one additional classroom assistant. Current staffing comprises two teachers and five classroom assistants.
The project has had the enthusiastic support of all those involved - parents, governors, all staff and especially the Shenton pupils. The project has been independently evaluated by Maria Landy during the summer term 1999 and will be reviewed in January and June 2000. '
The inclusion project is a major success.' Maria Landy -'A New Start'- 14/7/99.
The workshop will discuss the techniques and strategies which have been used during the project and ideas formulated for the future.
Inclusion is at the heart of education but we must seek to find a balance between the Statutory Law and good practice. An essential component in achieving this is inclusive education. The sooner children see and experience individual differences with one another the more likely we are able to begin to achieve an inclusive and harmonious society. A harmonious society is one which benefits individuals and groups of all sizes not only in terms of people being able to feel satisfied with their role in that society but also in that a harmonious society is one where the safety of individuals and groups is best maintained and ultimately resulting in society reaping the benefits.
For some children the only positive influence in their lives can be within the classroom; an environment where all adults and children learn to respect and learn from each other, which we at Shenton Primary regard as the 'power of incidental learning'. A classroom in which all pupils feel valued and are given the opportunity to succeed. Where all pupils regardless of their difficulties whether learning or emotional and behavioural are included - not just nominally - but are included within the daily planned activities with clear and consistent targets and the necessary support leading to the raising of self-esteem and achievement.
A 109 page-guide to implementing inclusive education was sent to all 26,000 English Primary, Secondary and Special schools in March. The Index for Inclusion: developing learning and participation in schools (2000) by the Centre for Studies on Inclusive Education highlights the following issues:
The 1997 Green Paper Excellence for All Children: Meeting Special Educational Needs emphasises raising standards for all, including pupils with special needs through inclusive educational practice and working collaboratively with outside agencies. The Green Paper highlighted the following areas for action:
The main emphasis of the Green Paper is the consideration of developing strategies for improving provision for children with EBD and the importance of raising their achievements. In support of the Green Paper the DfEE published Social Inclusion: Pupil Support (DfEE Circular 10/99) the emphasis of which is a planned multi-agency approach to supporting pupils
The School Context
Manorbrooke is a special school for children with emotional and behavioural difficulties. In February 1998 there was an OFSTED inspection which triggered a number of changes within the school. Towards the end of the Autumn term 1998, a draft proposal for an inclusion project involving Shenton Primary and Manorbrooke school was prepared. Prior to the establishing of this inclusion project in January 1999, a number of visits were made to Shenton Primary school by staff, pupils and parents.
Shenton Primary school is a large mixed inner-city primary school which is predominantly made up of Gujerati speaking Muslims (Number on Roll 472). Most of the children are bi-lingual or multi-lingual. 229 pupils receive support through EMTAG funding, 26% are eligible for free school meals - this is above average for the country as a whole.
In order to implement a structured approach to inclusive education at Shenton Primary school there was a need for:
1. establishing a co-ordinating group which included staff, parents and pupils which met regularly to review progress, maintain consistency, to set new targets and to review school practices;
2. governors, pupils, parents and members of the local community to consult periodically in order to monitor the current state of inclusive education within the school;
3. the re-writing of the School Improvement Plan to reflect the insights gained throughout the review process.
'Pre-prepared systems will not succeed unless they are owned by the people who are expected to use them. Imposed systems are doomed to failure. Needs have to be perceived in order to be met' (Bill Gribble)
For inclusion to work successfully within a mainstream school, inclusion must be at the heart of the School Improvement Plan with ownership by all stakeholders. There must be:
'Good schools have an ethos which permeates the whole school. Future policy should be geared towards this becoming the norm.'
The stakeholders are included within this process at Shenton Primary school as follows:
The co-ordinating group at Shenton Primary meets half-termly. These meetings are informed by weekly Head of Department meetings, fortnightly Learning Support Team meetings and meetings with classteachers. The focus of these meetings relates to teaching & learning, curriculum, assessment and behaviour management.
In order for staff to be aware and sensitive to the needs of children with EBD, there needs to be regular training and a consistent whole-school system of communication and recording, resulting in staff feeling confident and sufficiently skilled to devise and implement Behaviour Management Plans, de-escalate difficult situations, diffuse potential major incidents and provide measurable evidence to inform future planning all of which leads to the successful inclusion of children with EBD within the mainstream classroom.
'Our vision is of an inclusive local education system in which the normal presumption is that children spend as much time as possible in a mainstream setting' ("Meeting Special Educational Needs - A Programme for Action" DfEE 1998, chapter 3,p23)
At Shenton Primary the system for this includes:
Parents know their child best; in order to achieve the best support possible for pupils there must be an emphasis on partnership with parents:
'involving parents and carers in education increases children's achievement' (Partnership with parents in action (Page 41 Ed. Sheila Wolfendale - Nasen publication 1997)
At Shenton Primary the system for this includes the following positive aspects of parental involvement:
All of which promotes the raising of self-esteem and morale of teachers, parents and pupils, an essential step to inclusion.
Pupils - the power of incidental learning
Pupils make a significant and positive contribution to a successful inclusion programme. Pupils are involved within the context of learning, the context of playing, the context of eating, and the context of friendship.
At Shenton Primary, pupils are making a very positive contribution towards the inclusive ethos of the school. They are helping their new peers to cope. Children with EBD watch how other pupils react and begin to copy this behaviour, as a result incidents do not always escalate out of control.
Shenton pupils are helping to break the chain of events that result in inappropriate behaviours. Peers support each other, they warn each other in a supportive way and instead of encouraging inappropriate disruption they help their friends to remain on task. This incidental learning in such a positive context is very powerful.
Within the context of the Shenton/Manorbrooke inclusion it is remarkable that racial tension or harassment is not an issue. Pupils from both groups are accepting the differences in each other.
Implementing the Changes - The Process
"A 'sanctuary' space, to allow for 'cooling off' and counseling was found beneficial"
(Emotional & Behavioural Difficulties in Mainstream Schools, J Visser, T Cole & H Daniels Research Report RR 90)