Inclusion, Diversity and Difference

In this short report, I will attempt to identify what inclusive education is and give examples of what it might look like in the classroom.

According to the Special Educational Needs and Disability code of practice: 0 to 25 years, the UK Government is: “committed to inclusive education of disabled children and young people and the progressive removal of barriers to learning and participation in mainstream education.” (2015, p.25) This code of practice was introduced to reform the way Special Education Needs and Disabilities (SEND) children and youngsters were treated in schools. One of the aims was to hand over more control and insight to the children and the parents (or carer) regarding their education. It is the intention that this will increase both the quality of their learning and their general sense of independence, providing possible improvements with employability and standard of living. (DfE, 2015)

I believe for inclusion to happen it needs to be embedded in every aspect of the school. We need to look at how we can adapt methods and conditions to meet the requirements of all the students; this also includes those children who are exceeding academically. Lessons have to be planned in a way that ensures all pupils can reach their potential and teachers should set high expectations for every class member.  (DfE, 2014)


It is necessary to focus on their capabilities and differences to acknowledge what they can bring to the classroom environment rather than solely on their difficulties. In Inclusive Pedagogy in Action: getting it right for every child, Florian, L. and Beaton, M discusses the use of an  “inclusive pedagogical approach” (2017, p.1) whereby children are taught in a way that is accessible for everyone. Instead of using methods that most learners will be expected to understand, and simply adjusting or tailoring these for someone with SEND, teachers need to plan so that everyone has the chance to be part of the lesson. This plan should ensure that no child feels excluded from the rest of the class; it is essential that all pupils have access to everything that the school has to offer, both educationally and socially. (Florian, 2017)  However, the responsibility does not solely lay upon the school, but also local authorities, health, and social care services involvement is needed, to ensure children with SEND receive the care and support they deserve to reach their ambitions. (DfE, 2014) My placement school supported social inclusion and inclusive education for all. There was an ethos that every child had the right to education and should not be excluded from any activities on offer, regardless of ability. Instead, the school tried to work with that child to see what could be done to help. (link removed for anonymity)
One of the boys in my class found it very difficult to sit still and concentrate on the carpet. He would start fidgeting and moving around, distracting the other children. Instead of taking this child out of the classroom (which I have witnessed in other schools), we worked out ways his experience on the carpet could be improved. He was given an Inflatable Dynamic Air Cushion to improve his concentration, the bumps on the cushion provide sensory stimulation and he can start to feel like he is moving when only using minimal motion in reality. We started asking him pre-planned questions to increase his confidence and to make him feel part of the class. The teaching assistant would sit close by him (during carpet time) and make sure he had understood the learning objectives. He started to happily sit on the carpet and take his cushion with him, even to assembly. He could still, occasionally, move around but he was much calmer and did not disturb any of his classmates. By responding to his needs and removing any hurdles that he was experiencing, we could ensure that he received the same education as everyone else in the class.

A great way of improving inclusion is by employing effective grouping; pairing a SEND child together with a higher attaining child. (DfES, 2001) This can take place by the use of talk partners. Talk partners are the idea of the children sharing their ideas and thoughts with the person sitting next to them. It invites the pupils to be fully engaged in the learning and helps get away from the use of ability groups. Other benefits could be an increase of greater feeling of self-belief, especially in the lower attaining children. This also works especially well in group tasks. (Clarke, 2008)

I have seen both good and bad examples of attempted inclusion; one of the worst examples I experienced was when working as a SEN teaching assistant; I worked closely with a pupil who was constantly being told she could not take part in class activities because of her disruptive behaviour. Instead of trying to work out the reasons for her behaviour, the school’s preferred method of dealing with her was to simply remove her from the classroom and the activity. Much of this behaviour stemmed from the pupil not feeling included and from the general lack of understanding the situation.

Defining what we mean by inclusion, and what this looks like, is not easy. What some might think is an inclusive practice might have a very different meaning for others. (Trussler and Robinson, 2015) This school thought just allowing the pupil in the classroom (occasionally) was enough, without providing the appropriate measures or environment to enable a full and meaningful sense of inclusion.

It is clear that some schools have taken a more active role in making changes towards achieving, an all-inclusive school environment, than others. (Mittler, 2000) The challenge therefore still remains to ensure all children receive the education they deserve (Ainscow, M., Dyson, A., & Booth, T. 2006)

 

References :

Mittler, P. (2000) Working towards inclusive education: social contexts. London: David Fulton.
Ainscow, M., Dyson, A., & Booth, T. (2006). Improving schools, developing inclusion. London ; New York: Routledge
Trussler, S & Robinson, D (2015) ‘Understanding special educational needs, disability and inclusive education’. Chapter 1 in Inclusive Practice in the Primary School: a guide for teachers. London: Sage.Department for Education and Skills. (2001). Inclusive schooling: children with special educational needs. London: Dept. for Education and Skills.
Florian, L. and Beaton, M. (2018) ‘Inclusive pedagogy in action: getting it right for every child’, International Journal of Inclusive Education, 22(8), pp. 870–884. doi: 10.1080/13603116.2017.1412513.Florian, L (2015) Conceptualising Inclusive Pedagogy: The Inclusive Pedagogical Approach in Action Emerald Group Publishing Limited, pp.11 -24 <https://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1108/S1479-363620150000007001>(Accessed: 16 January 2019).
Department for Education (2015) Special educational needs and disability code of practice: 0 to 25 years, London: DfES, Available: <https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/398815/SEND_Code_of_Practice_January_2015.pdf> (Accessed: 16 January 2019).|
‘Talk Partners’ (no date) Shirley Clarke Media Ltd. Available at: <https://www.shirleyclarke-education.org/research/talk-partners-2009-year-5-4th-grade-us/ >(Accessed: 17 January 2019).
Department for Education (2014) National curriculum in England: framework for key stages 1 to 4, London: DfES, Available: <https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-curriculum-in-england-framework-for-key-stages-1-to-4/the-national-curriculum-in-england-framework-for-key-stages-1-to-4#inclusion> (Accessed: 16/01/19)

 

 

 

Pedagogy

Pedagogy

In this short review of Usha Goswami’s report, Children’s Cognitive Development and Learning, I will focus on two of Goswami’s conclusions:

  • Children think and reason largely in the same way as adults.
  • Language is crucial for development.

Usha Goswami (2015) is of the opinion that a child’s brain works in the same way as an adult’s brain but, as youngsters, they lack awareness and understanding of their own thought process due to less cognitive experience. To help build on this, we need to offer them an environment and atmosphere that will expand and stimulate them.

We can put this stimulation in the classroom by offering a wide range of activities to influence the children, which will build on their experiences. During my placement, the classroom had several areas where the children could play, build, read, draw and create. The play area was equipped with costumes allowing children to act out their own imaginative worlds. This type of play supports the child in logical thinking, creativity and the comprehension of their environment; it is an important stepping stone for them to start understanding their own thoughts and the external world. (Goswhami, 2015)  These areas allow children to work on their independence as they were free to choose what they want to do (during a certain time of the day) but also on their collaborative skills. I observed, many times, how a group of children would collectively decide on making a big drawing for the headmaster and they spent this time discussing what they should draw and how to make and present it. This was such a wonderful example of learning happening naturally, whilst playing. The children were assigning actions and responsibilities to each other to finish a task; it was, fundamentally, the same actions and behaviors adults would employ in a similar situation.

Shirley Clarke (2003) talks about the teacher’s need to encourage students to engage in discussions, both with their peers and teachers, and how this can lead to new understanding or reflections of ones they already possess.

I find that this argument should not only be about something that the children learn in school, but also what they experience in their wider, external environment. A great example during my placement was “Show and Tell”; every Friday, children were encouraged to bring an item to class that was special to them. This could be anything from a story they had written, a football ticket, a medal or award they had won, or a history book. Each child was given an opportunity to tell the class their story about the particular object, and then the class was to ask questions. The teacher would then ask leading questions like “why is this item important to you?”,  “where did you get it from?” and the children were then encouraged to elaborate more and, if they did not know the answer, they were to investigate and tell the class the following Monday.

Often this invited discussions in the classroom, sparked new interests and made the children more curious and eager to know more. It also encourages everyone to talk and share; I did not see anyone unwilling to take part. Not all children will come from a home where such discussions have prominence; for their school to offer such participation and stimulation is vital for their cognitive and language development. This is an excellent activity where talk happens naturally and something that I intend to bring with me into my own teaching practice.

There is no doubt that language and everyday stimulating classroom experiences are some of the most important developmental tools schools have at their disposal and all go hand-in-hand with academic learning. If such discussion and participatory exercises do not happen, how can we expect the children to properly learn to read and write? If the children are not stimulated, there is a risk of them missing these early opportunities to fully develop their skills.

I am heading to a Year 5 class for my second placement; I will bring with me both Goswamis’ and Clarke’s words about the importance of language and how this can help with our learning. I am looking forward to comparing the differences in the age groups ( Year 2 to Year 5) and see how this will affect and change my learning style and the language I use in class.

 

References:

Goswami, U. C. and Cambridge Primary Review Trust (2015) Children’s cognitive development and learning.

Clarke, S. (2011) Formative assessment in action weaving the elements together. Londres: Hodder Murray.

 

 

 

 

Primary Computing

According to the National Curriculum: computing programs of study (2013) we need to provide an outstanding level of computing education to all pupils in key stage 1 and 2. Computing plays an important role in keeping the children up to date with new technology, which will be beneficial in any future workplace.

In key stage 1, part of the learning is to investigate what an algorithm is and make the connection that computers work by following these.  To demonstrate this, I decide to use Bee-Bots (small robots) for my computing sessions. In, Primary Computing and Digital Technology (Turvey.K,2016) it mentions the Bee-Bot robot as being an excellent starting point for young children to begin exploring with algorithms. Although these children were familiar with the Bee-Bot from early years, they had no experience with algorithms or what it was. To get the children engaged I had made the robots a little house and told the children the robots were lost and needed help to help to find their way home. To do this the pupils had to write an algorithm that the bee-bot had to follow.

We started off discussing what toys or other items the children had at home that needed instructions to work and what happened if you didn’t give them the right ones. I wanted them to start thinking about and understand that it’s not just computers that need programming but, also most items used at home. We then worked collaboratively making up verbally an algorithm to get the Bee-Bot from start to finish on a small map. Together we discussed any problems that we were experiencing (Bee-Bot went too far, in the wrong direction etc.) and what we could do to correct this, and what this was called in computing. I also let them direct me around the room, following only their instructions, to put extra emphasis on what happens if you don’t give clear instructions. (I would walk into the wall, out the room etc.) I was hoping this would make it clear the necessity of the algorithm to be followed to the precise.

For the second part of the lesson, they were divided up in groups of two and three to write their own algorithm. To help I used visual cards on the table with keywords. Some children found this difficult as their writing was not at the same level as their peers, and where then encourage to draw parts of the algorithm out instead. In a few cases, the more able pupil would take over and I had to keep reminding them to work collaboratively and share.

On reflection, I can see it would have been helpful if I had written some of the key terminologies on the board for them to refer to and look back at. I felt they were slightly confused by the word ‘algorithm’ and ‘debugging’ and I should have put more emphasis on using these words.

Others struggled with figuring out how many steps needed before you could, for example, turn the Bee-Bot to the right. Part of this I believe was that they simply were very eager to start using the robots and was rushing. To solve this and make them realise the importance of this part being correct we would walk together the path the Bee-Bot was going to take, following their instructions so they could experience themselves what changes needed.
One problem that kept happening was that they in their excitement were using their hands to direct the Bee-Bot. I had not made it clear enough that this was not allowed. So, for my last group, I changed my approach slightly and made more emphasis on how important it was not to do it this. I also got them to write down any of the problems they experienced and talked more about debugging. I think this worked better than just expressing it verbally as it made them think a bit more carefully about what steps needed to take.

Overall I feel like they were enjoying the session and almost everyone was able to write and follow their own algorithm. It would be interesting to go back and try this session with another class, perhaps a year 1, and see if the outcome would have been any different.

In computing, the children get to work on their creative skills, problem-solving and see their ideas being brought to life. These are great resources to have, and will prepare them for the future. (Berry, M. (2014)

References:

Turvey, K. Potter, J. Burton, J. (2016) Primary Computing and Digital Technologies; Knowledge, Understanding and Practice,London: Sage, Learning Matters.
National curriculum in England: computing programmes of study. (n.d.).
Accessed on 23rd October 2018) <https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-curriculum-in-england-computing-programmes-of-study>
Berry, M. (2014) Computing in the national curriculum; a guide for primary teachers [online] Available: < http://www.computingatschool.org.uk/data/uploads/CASPrimaryComputing.pdf > (Last accessed: 24th October 2018)

Safeguarding and Wellbeing

In this post, I will be discussing challenges in regards to safeguarding and wellbeing in education and what strategies can be taken. I have chosen to look deeper into the issue of children being absent from school for longer periods and Female Genital Mutilation. (FGM)

It was reported by the National Children’s Bureau, that in 2016/17 49,187 children were missing education. The report suggests that children who are absent from school for a long period of time could be at a greater risk of falling behind academically and raises the possibility of the child being abused or neglected. Many children are often left feeling lonely and bored staying at home, having nothing to do or feeling they have no purpose. There might also be more long-term consequences to their lives such as unemployment and poverty. However, these are not the only effects it could have on a child; there might also be a detrimental impact on their social skills and confidence. Making friends could become difficult as school is one of the first places in life where you make those connections. It is not only the child this affects, but the whole family. (Children missing education, 2018)

So why does a child not attend school? There are many possible reasons; it could be as straightforward as there is no appropriate school close by and the child has no option than wait until a place can be arranged. However, there seem to be a few groups that are more vulnerable than others such as Gypsy, Roma and Traveller children, those who have been excluded, those with teenage parents, been affected by domestic or sexual abuse (or both), children who have experienced bullying, children in care, young offenders, victims of FGM, those requiring special education needs and children being forced in to marriage. Children can easily be taken out from school and go ‘missing’ by parents who claim to be home-schooling, moving to a new house or on holiday. (Thousands of children ‘missing’ from education, 2017)

Every school needs to keep a close record of children’s attendance and local authorities should be informed if a child has missed more than 10 days, without consent, from the school and investigated. ( Children Missing from Education, 2018 )

As a future teacher, I feel that it is our responsibility to make every child feel safe and happy in school. We should aim to have a good relationship with all the pupils. The use of other staff such as teaching assistants is an important source, as they will see the child during break time and might notice changes in their behavior not seen in class.

Having a close relationship with parents may be able to prevent some of these absences from occurring. Also, making it very clear the importance of their child attending school and the damage it may cause if they fail to attend.  We need to do everything we can to make sure children are able to attend school and receive the help they need.

One of the most traumatic and damaging causes for absence is a child suffering from the effects of FGM or has been taken out of school to undergo the procedure. One report from NSPCC states, as far as what is known, there are 137,000 women affected by FGM in England and Wales. (Female genital mutilation (FGM)What is FGM ) In 1985 FGM was made illegal in the UK and at the beginning of 2000, it became a criminal offense to take your child abroad to have the procedure done if you were a UK national or permanent resident. (Tackling FGM in the UK, 2017 ) Although FGM is forbidden and classed as child abuse, it is still happening. Many parents take their children away during the school holidays to have the procedure done. There are signs we can look out for, and hopefully help to prevent this happening or, if it has already occurred, at least be able to offer the child medical help and counseling. If a child is talking about going on a long holiday or having a family friend coming to visit (mainly from parts of Africa, the Middle East, and Asia) (Female genital mutilation (FGM), 2017  this could be an indication that FGM is being planned. There might also be signs where the child becomes withdrawn and not behaving as normal. In some cases, their academic achievements suffer. If we suspect that a child has been exposed to FGM, or we suspect a child might be at risk, we must report it to the police. Not all parents are aware that this procedure is illegal in the UK and can result in a prison sentence of up to 14 years. (Female Genital Mutilation-NSPCC, 2016)

Most importantly, with regards to all safeguarding, we must stay observant and note any changes in a child’s behavior. It is everyone’s duty to keep our children safe from harm.

 

References:

Children missing education | NCB (no date). Available at: https://www.ncb.org.uk/resources-publications/resources/children-missing-education
(Accessed: 14 January 2019).
Talwar, D. (2016) ‘Thousands of children “missing” from school’, 30 November. Available at: https://www.bbc.com/news/education-38145058 (Accessed: 8th October 2018).

NSPCC (no date) Female genital mutilation (FGM)NSPCC. Available at: http://www.nspcc.org.uk/preventing-abuse/child-abuse-and-neglect/female-genital-mutilation-fgm/
(Accessed:8th October 2018).

Moffat, P. (2017) Journal of health visiting, Tackling FGM in the UK, Available at :
https://www-magonlinelibrary-com.ezproxy.brighton.ac.uk/doi/10.12968/johv.2017.5.7.317
(Accessed:8th October 2018).

NSPCC (no date) Signs, indicators and effectsNSPCC. Available at: http://www.nspcc.org.uk/preventing-abuse/child-abuse-and-neglect/female-genital-mutilation-fgm/signs-symptoms-and-effects/
(Accessed:8th October 2018).
The University of Brighton,(no date) Children missing education. Available at: https://staff.brighton.ac.uk/school/edu/Docs/Resources/Safeguarding/children_missing_from_education.pdf?_ga=2.105529024.235913682.1539277244-438287888.1524913169
(Accessed:8th October 2018).
Female genital mutilation (FGM) (2017) nhs.uk. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/female-genital-mutilation-fgm/
(Accessed: 17 January 2019).

 

Hi!

Welcome to my blog that will record my experiences during the road to become a primary school teacher.  Working as a teacher has been a dream of mine for many years and I am very excited to have stared on this path.