Exploring learning disabilities: supporting belonging
Exploring learning disabilities: supporting belonging

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Exploring learning disabilities: supporting belonging

3 Inclusive education in practice

Advocates of inclusive education argue it shifts thinking away from a ‘deficit model’ where the focus is on what a child cannot do, towards a ‘social model’, where the focus is on what the school can do to adapt to the child’s needs. Proponents of inclusive education also argue that it provides a unique opportunity to model an inclusive world, where non-disabled children can learn to communicate and form friendships with children with learning disabilities through common interests and activities. The argument made is that society can never be truly inclusive if people are separated from one another from school age onwards.

International research (Hehir et al., 2016) has shown that across the world, children with special educational needs benefit academically and socially when schooled in inclusive environments. The evidence also shows that the impact of inclusive education on non-disabled students is neutral or even positive. The argument made is that good inclusive teaching benefits everyone in the classroom.

Despite the research, it can often be difficult for parents and teachers to envisage what a good example of inclusive education looks like. In the next activity you will watch a video about Eastlea School. This will enable you to see a whole-school approach to inclusion.

Activity 6 Inclusive education in action

Timing: Allow about 10 minutes

Watch this video about Eastlea School then answer the question that follows.

Download this video clip.Video player: boc_ld_1_session4_video4.mp4
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Transcript

[MUSIC PLAYING]

EMMA LANE:
Eastlea is a very inclusive and diverse community. We have over 67 languages spoken. And we have a larger than average number of students on the SEN register, approximately 17% of the population. We also have an on-site resourced provision for 15 students with a complex needs learning profile. And we have around 20 other students that qualify for higher needs funding.
TOM FITZPATRICK:
Teaching assistants aren't always subject specialists. It can be difficult to make sure that they understand what it is that you're trying to get the students to access. So the way around that is that we worked as a department, all of the subject specialists, to plan the differentiated work that matches the Scheme of Work that the other students are doing, which is provided to the teaching assistants before they come in. And it's available for anyone to see on our Humanities Department area on the shared site.
Then talking to the teaching assistants when they're in the classroom, but also in advance, and saying, you know, this is what we're aiming for, this is what we'd like them to achieve. Do you think this is the right level for them? Can we make it a bit different? What is it that I need to be able to do for them to access it?
ROHANA BEGUM (TEACHING ASSISTANT):
Fahad is doing, in the table he put down which one is less and which one is more. So he counts and divides which one is more and which one is less. He's doing really well at the moment. He is progressing. Is this more than this? Which one is bigger? 2 or 3? 3 is bigger. Can you circle it? Which one?
TEACHING ASSISTANT:
Which one is more, more flowers here? Which one? Can you cut?
ITORO ONATERERY (TEACHING ASSISTANT):
Natalia is using the number line to apply the negative numbers and positive numbers as well. Minus 7 plus 3. Can you find minus 7 on the number line? Where's minus 7?
NATALIA:
Forwards.
ITORO ONATERERY:
Good, forward. So minus 7 plus 3 equals--
NATALIA:
Minus 4.
ITORO ONATERERY:
She's actually making progress. Because when she started, she started on the lower level P-Scale, level 5. And now she's gone up to level 1. So she has gone up four levels now. And then she is doing 10 minutes work now. Later on we're going to give her a reward-- 10 minutes music, because she likes music. We give her the iPad. She's going to listen to music.
And then afterwards, she's going to do her work again.
TEACHING ASSISTANT:
What comes after 2?
ANDREI:
2. 3.
TEACHING ASSISTANT:
Good boy.
ANDREI:
3.
TEACHING ASSISTANT:
What comes after 3?
ANDREI:
4.
TEACHING ASSISTANT:
Good. After 4? What comes after 6?
ANDREI:
7.
TEACHING ASSISTANT:
Good boy.
ANDREI:
8.
TEACHING ASSISTANT:
Well done.
ANDREI:
9.
TEACHING ASSISTANT:
Give me high five! What a good boy. Oh.
TOM FITZPATRICK:
I think the inclusive approach works at Eastlea. I also think that they're included in society in a way that they just wouldn't be if they were attending a special educational needs school, where they're just separate, and often that I think that they probably wouldn't meet anyone else outside of that school in their daily lives. Maybe between home and school there's not really that many other places they're going. So one of the big things here is that they get a lot of interaction with other people from around the school.
And that benefits those people as well, because they're becoming more tolerant, they're understanding needs of others much more. I just think it's a much better way of running a school.
HASSAN:
It makes me feel, like, part of this bond that I have with them. Not only them but other people. But our bond is special, because we've known each other for a long time.
ISMAEL:
I'm proud of what we've done together, with revising as well. Because something-- us three have a strategy like, if someone doesn't understand something, we share with each other. So then we find a method so we all understand it. For example, it could be short words so we all understand something like the same thing. So that when it comes to the test none of us struggle.
HASSAN:
If we don't understand something, then we try to help each other. And I think we got that from last year, because we had a teacher called Mr. Agidi in science. And he taught us that you are not only here to help yourself. You're here to help each other.
End transcript
 
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Why do you think Eastlea School is able to be so inclusive in its approach?

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Answer

There are lots of reasons why Eastlea School is delivering high quality inclusive education. Some things you may have identified are:

  • a deep commitment to inclusion through all levels of the school – from the most senior members of staff, to the students
  • students are given clear messages about the benefits of inclusion and how they can help themselves, by helping each other
  • the school has explored creative approaches to adapting the curriculum, but they talk about these things as very straightforward and simple things to do
  • disabled students are very present in the classroom and recreational areas. The school is definitely aspiring to ‘inclusion’ over ‘integration’.

Eastlea School is a model of good practice and shows what can be achieved when the commitment to genuine inclusion is present. But delivering this level of inclusion can also come at a cost, as you will learn in the next section.

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