I have just read and reblogged a reply to Tom Sherringhams post about inclusion and exclusion in relation to the learning of others by the small group who inevitably thwart our behaviour systems and sanctions. http://headguruteacher.com/2015/01/04/inclusion-and-exclusion-in-a-community-school/
Since doing this I have re. read some of it and began focussing on the SEND part of the article. The partially sighted boy is a great example to use (see below for an extract) for many to understand the entitlement of these students. However, there are many others out there on the autistic spectrum etc. that are just not being recognised. Some of this is because the class teacher knows that something is wrong/different but cannot put their finger on it, hence the book A practical guide to supporting EAL and SEN pupils. It is for these very practitioners so that they can then talk to the SEN department/ Headteacher/consultant with more evidence for a truly professional discussion.
Included in the book are tick boxes for class teachers to work out if they support the child in their classroom including asking, in relation to language development, whether the teacher speaks at a pace the child can follow, reinforces key messages and asks a range of open and closed questions.
Following on from that, is a comprehensive tick list that incorporates general learning difficulties which include all the following; Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, Dyspraxia, Dysgraphia, Speech,language and communication needs, Autism, Social, emotional and mental health difficulties (SEMH), and Sensory impairment – Hearing and vision. By ticking the child’s traits it is easier to start working out where the child has a building block missing. In turn this allows the professional to have a more defined conversation rather than a vague ‘This child is not learning but distracting others. I am following our behaviour policy. What can I do?’
To support this there are further ideas throughout the book including looking at the classroom environment, provision mapping and ways to record evidence for those professional discussions. If you are interested in receiving a PDF copy or paperback @15.00 you can get more information by following the link above or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Recently in school I met a very happy young man who was wheelchair bound, and had a voice recorder to express his very good sense of humour. It was quickly made clear by him that he was very able academically, and I could see that the school had in process some great practices which ensure that he can access the curriculum. He was being taught in main stream classrooms by qualified teachers and the support assistant as part of their remit ensured that tables were heightened to allow wheelchair access etc. (see the emboldening of the sections below). Tom (Sherringham) is correct – learning what entitlement really means can be scary to start with, and mistakes will be made, but if we always start with the premise of Every child matters then entitlement/equality/diversity etc, etc are all covered as we make sure every child has the tools needed to thrive in school.
Tom writes …. I learned a lot about the principles of SEND inclusion from a boy at KEGS who was partially sighted. His parents had had to fight hard to get him into the school and then championed his needs with passion and determination thereafter. Everything we did wrong was ‘appalling’ in their eyes and that hurt. We made lots of mistakes and learned a lot but ultimately he did extremely well at GCSE and A level. Our main learning was to understand the concept of entitlement: we were not doing him a favour when we made special provision for him, we were just giving him what he was entitled to; we learned not to seek gratitude for doing routine tasks; we learned that his teachers needed to teach him directly, not through his Learning Support Assistants; we learned that helping him to access most work wasn’t good enough – it had to be everything, all of the time because anything less was unacceptable. The key here was getting the resources in place and working with the student and the family, really listening to what they said without being defensive – even though that was hard at times. We got there in the end but he suffered – there’s no doubt about that.
As we start the new year I am sure that we will all strive to do our best, so I may just return to this towards the end of term when we are all tired and sometimes the basics can get lost in politics and all the other things that happen daily.