The names of all participants mentioned in the document, which follows have been changed in accordance with The British Educational Research Association (BERA, 2011, cited in The Open University (OU), 2017) guidelines pertaining to confidentiality and anonymity.
Section 1 – Understanding of Inclusive practice within a primary setting
Inclusive methods can be interpreted in various ways; I perceive that inclusion begins with our everchanging society which demonstrates how we prepare the next generation. Inclusion should not only be limited to the education system and its authorities, instead of developing ourselves how to guide and support learners for a better future, where they can connect and reach their full potential. The UNESCO Salamanca Statement of 1994 begins with the affirmation of ‘education for all.’ This outlined the importance of the formation of an ‘inclusive society’ which will aid in the effective education of all learners. (Csie.org.uk, 2018). The statement also established the need for ‘protection rights’ to all children (Study Topic (ST) 6, pg157) Inclusive education in can provide equal opportunities to all their students, in any school, we should not solely fixate on children with learning difficulties but the overall community (Study Topic (ST) 6, pg153), by offering a more creative and tailored approach to the way all learners are taught and assessed. Good inclusive practice fosters healthy social relationships within the school community.
Section 2 – Rationale for additional support
Children are unique in their own way, and each will have their individual capacity to manage with difficulties in their day to day lives. As with any school, children will need some element of support throughout their school careers. The Education Act of 1996 stipulates the need to assess and make individual adjustments to learners of specific educational requirements, and that all schools by law need to have a SEN ‘code of practice’ in place. (Study Topic (ST) 8, pg216). In my current school setting, we have a small team of LSA’s who provide additional support for individual children outside of typical classroom sessions. During my observations over the last three months within KS1/KS2, I have witnessed children of different backgrounds receiving tailored support by both specialist tutors within the school, as well as outside agencies. Learners with SEN are supported in small groups and on a 1:1 basis within the classroom, or withdrawn to another room according to the type of work undertaken and the suitability of the location for the planned activity. My school establishes support systems this way which is in line with its SEN policy (My School, September 2017, pg7)
I have been assisting two pupils, who’s names have been changed for this assignment on the run up to Christmas with the help of a senior TA. She has recently completed her teacher training and is now a qualified teacher. ‘Jakub’ and ‘Leighanne’ who are currently in Y6 are in different classes and require dedicated help with their literacy. They both have Dyslexia and struggle to keep up to speed with the classroom activities set to them. Throughout the school, teachers try to provide a learning environment that is inclusive for all learners no matter what their individual needs are. Breaking barriers can be a challenge, but it does have many positive impacts on the way pupils are learning and developing. One way that teachers combat barriers would be that they would create handouts containing the key points which they would then stick into their books, so they are up to speed. This alleviates the need for the children to copy directly off the board. However, more able students are encouraged to do this. In all classes, there are focus tables where small groups of children who need support can collaborate with a TA and still get involved with the class and become part of discussions. In the case of Jakub and Leighanne, they find it difficult to settle and often cause disruption because they are struggling to grasp with the activities. This is where the sessions outside the class helps drastically.
Section 3 – Approaches to supporting learning
There are numerous strategies put in place in my current setting with regards to the implementation of amended materials and other resources. Touching on what was mentioned in the previous section, I find the importance of transparency and accessibility of all learning materials is paramount to active learning. Handouts are standard practice within the classroom, as well as interventions that may be required outside of the class. For the pupils that do have difficulty with their literacy, numeracy and even I.C.T, such materials have been adapted to suit individual needs. By using clear and straightforward instructions on the materials, it provides better guidance to the learners and the TA’s that would be In the classroom on the focus tables. My school openly embraces and encourages the use of I.C.T whenever the need arises. This can become especially helpful for those pupils that have needs such as language or literacy. Classroom laptops, for example, are in use and come with a wealth of rich support software which can be monitored by teachers. Tasks can be set for the learners to complete within the class which is in line with the ongoing classroom activities. The TA’s are also there to assist the learner. On some occasions, the teachers may launch an assessment on the laptop which they can then mark electronically and archive for use later on. Adults play a vital role in supporting the children. My school ensures that all children have full access to the curriculum as part of good inclusive practice.
Those children that have SEN are generally supported in smaller groups. The use of individual teacher planning helps in ensuring that the children have the opportunity to follow the same curriculum, regardless of their needs. I feel If adults can encourage interest and most importantly the motivation and self-confidence, the rest will follow to a point where we are scaffolding their learning. If we take in to account the diversity of the learners in our schools, teachers should be creative in their scaffolding strategies in order to keep the children immersed. Children are becoming more active listeners, and group work and open discussions are utilized. (Study Topic (ST) 8, pg237).
Special needs co-ordinators (SENCo) are in all schools and are responsible for implementing adequate provisions for children that are SEN. Identifying children that have special needs can be done in various ways. Sometimes it is necessary to conduct an individual observation and/or assessment of the child to determine what the child may require in terms of support. In some cases, external agencies may conduct the assessments themselves. During my observations, I have understood that It is sometimes necessary for children to receive external support. With the two children I have been shadowing, they get personal support by means of supplying a language/speech therapist twice a week. This will form 2 of their 6-hour weekly interventions with an HLTA. External therapists have become such a valuable asset to the children, and I find that all schools should continue with their services. Therapists have become so much more of an integrated element of the child’s intervention. In addition to supporting phonics, the children are further supported with their written comprehension and sentence structuring which is In line with the school curriculum. Of course, SENCo will be overseeing the processes that lead up to any external visits and the internal monitoring of the children. We also have children from various nationalities where English will be a second language to them. A number of the HLTAs within the school are able to support the child in their native language.
As part of the school SEN policy “the recording of a child’s progress should clearly indicate their needs” and that there should be “appropriate dialogue between the teacher and SENCO” (My School, September 2017, pg8). This will in turn aid in the continuity of planning and progression stages throughout the child’s time in the school. Monitoring systems still continue to be powerful tools for children with SEN, and so it is vitally important to see the child’s learning patterns within different areas of the curriculum. As well as this, knowing how they are managing and progressing in different SEN groups is equally as important. My school still implements Individualised Education Plans (IEPs). These are working documents, and most records are updated weekly.
Categories within an IEP consist of targets to be achieved and achievement criteria which are to be mapped against the proficiency of the child. Parents and the SENCo staff are both critical when it comes to developing effective IEPs. In order for such plan to be implemented, parents will need to back up what the school is proposing to them and agree as to whether or not the plans will have a positive impact on the child. (Study Topic (ST) 8, pg221). Teachers will gather their own information in the meantime and get a general picture of the capacities of the child where findings are then fed back to the SENCo staff. After the initial assessments have taken place, the teaching strategies can then be formulated.
Section 4 – Reflecting on the support
From my perspective, I see a wealth of benefits to inclusive support. Such positives include developing mutual respect for each others differences and preparing one’s self for life in a more diverse society. Inclusivity in the classroom expresses both social and academic meanings. It is refreshing to see that the children in my school are soundly interacting with one another and that they can be perceived as being positive role models for each other.
However, I find that stereotyping or labeling a child with characteristics perceived by others is still an issue in schools. If a child is SEN, they may feel that they are less able than other children just because they are Maslow (1994, 1954) touched upon the fact that ‘every person has the capability, yet progress could be hindered by the failure to meet lower level needs’ (Simply Psychology, 2018). With this in mind, it gives some scope as to ways in which support can potentially be improved. Many systems are in place such as extra classes, disability access, and specialized teaching where necessary. However, still, many more improvements need to be addressed. I find that inclusivity in some schools is often ignored; authority figures are lacking knowledge of how to assess or cope with instances of bullying or neglect to which some children are excluded socially. I am not saying that this is the case in all schools but from a general perspective from where I have grown up through the system and seen changes. Primary schools such as my own are introducing unique systems, i.e. ‘Playground Buddy’ which not only develops emotional maturity/responsibility but a system in place where children are confident to overcome their problems without having to confront authority, which might make it easier for a child who is considered shy. I believe a thriving learning environment is welcoming to students of different backgrounds and provide an enriching education in which every learner can thrive.
Section 5 – Conclusion
To conclude, supporting the needs of children as part of good inclusive practise remains to be important by securing the fact that children of SEN should not be underrepresented, and that they have every means of support. This will in turn provide the child with an equal opportunity to be successful. When additional support is provided to the children, it will impact their development in such a way that they are able to keep up with the curriculum regardless of their disability. Additional support should be administered in methods that are suitable for the child to adapt to, and that appropriate authority i.e. SENCo and external agencies are able to fulfil the needs of the child. Inclusive practice from what has been established through the writing of this TMA is that there is no limit to the amount of support given to a child. By giving the teaching staff the right support and the ability build a framework that is rich in resources is something that all schools should embrace to ensure that all learners have bright learning outcomes. Children should be encouraged to be socially inclusive and understand each others differences. ‘Children’s personal development is all about their self-esteem’ and this is what inclusive practice is all about, to make children believe in themselves no matter what their differences are. (Study Topic (ST) 4, pg95).
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