Inclusion and Exclusion in a Community School.

It was really refreshing to read this truthful insight into inclusion and exclusion. There are many senior teams with the same issues, and are addressing them, but keep tightly lipped. Well Done to Tom for having the confidence to broach this subject out aloud. From my experience and practice I think we must always think about the other 27/28/29 in the class. Their parents have sent them to school and expect the best and would be horrified if they saw exactly what went on in their child’s classroom/playground, by these few known individuals. On top of this many in the classes/groups do want to learn academically and socially and get frustrated at having their efforts thwarted daily. For them, we need to show that we are doing our best for them as well. So whilst considering what to do ‘ with a small handful of students. Most of them are in Year 9 but sadly one is in Year 7 … do all you can… but equally weigh up the impact on the other children they deserve as much of our attention as well.
I think the idea of looking outside the institution for help and support is also very brave and hope that the community and other professionals support you all in this.

teacherhead

inclusion-exclusion Taken from http://www.friendshipcircle.org/blog/2014/01/02/inclusion-what-it-is-and-what-it-isnt/

I’ve just read Nancy Gedge’s excellent, powerful blog ‘Battle Weary’ about her son’s experience of school and the challenges of parenting a child with Down’s Syndrome.  It encapsulates a range of issues around inclusion and the extent to which schools truly embrace the concept.   Since arriving at Highbury Grove, inclusion is something I’ve thought about a great deal, in different contexts.  Here are some of the issues we’ve been wrestling with:

Behaviour:

This is a daily challenge.  We are trying to set very high standards as part of our drive to secure ‘impeccable behaviour’ across the school.  I firmly believe that educating all children how to behave well is an inclusive agenda. However, our system has some strong sanctions and a built-in process that removes students from lessons and, if necessary, the mainstream school if their behaviour has an unacceptable effect on others.  That’s non-negotiable, in…

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Student Participation

Encouraging the best from our young people in classroom situations can be daunting for new teachers, but the example below shows the benefit of well planned whole class teaching on full participation of the students.

In years gone by the stereotype for the classroom are groups of children with their hands up. This was usually the result of the teacher making a  statement e.g. We have been looking at structures and then asking for a response i.e. Put up your hands if you can think of any shell structures.

Despite the stereotypical media classrooms view that everyone ahs their hand up in reality;

  • Only a few will volunteer the information by putting their hands up
  • The teacher usually thanks or praises them
  • To check the rest of the class another few people will be asked and praised re. their contribution
  • This leaves a whole band of students who have said nothing and may know the answer but have not received praise.

Now we will look at a different way of answering the same question but achieving a result that means every students has had a voice. As currently snow and ice is the topic of weather conversation due to the Winter Olympics I suggest we call this idea snowballing.

The question is asked again but this time instead of hands up do the following;

  • Ask each class member to use a whiteboard or post it note to write down one idea
  • In pairs students share their ideas and come up with a  third idea ( 2 minutes is maximum time needed)
  • Join with another pair (creating  group of four) or collaborate as a table, exchange the examples and then think of a few more
  • Finally ask each group to feedback – or alternatively ask each member of the class to report back one idea from their group

This should make each child feel that they have participated and been heard and most if not all should receive praise.

There are many influences to the approach any teacher will use depending on a variety of circumstances and the topic, curriculum concept that has to be taught. Here are some examples;

  1. The motivation and behaviour of the students
  2. The complexity of the knowledge needed to be learnt
  3. The ethos developed by the teacher for that classroom i.e. is it more inquiry and thinking led or passive hands up?
  4. Cultural differences
  5. Class size
  6. Academic  and general language skills

 

 

Positive learning ethos

For new Pastoral leaders September is a time for change so maybe this is a good time to write about what a pastoral leader should be about.  Those who have done it for  along while it may be a time to reflect and ask whether some things that they sued to do would be a good idea to bring back.  You know your children so what is right for them?

the object of the pastoral system is to give support and guidance in various measures depending on the situation occasionally there will be a need to be objective and influence to ensure both the students and the staffs needs are met. This is what makes it tricky when staff member A comes and says child X is making my life hell…you listen and respond supportively then talk to child X. That’s if child X hasn’t already reached your door saying staff member A is a (expletive).  Again listen and respond supportively negotiate and influence better behaviour and learning. Then go back to staff member A without going into too much detail explain you have talked to child X and again negotiate a way forward without them losing self-respect or their authority but make sure that learning on their next lesson together occurs. NB know your staff and children then it is far easier to referee.

Our role is to nurture and support i.e. we must constantly strive to foster personal development through providing our students with counselling and guidance. They must always be given the opportunity to take responsibility for their own actions, to make decisions based on knowing the implications of choice. Self respect and respect for others must be key. Unacceptable action can be challenged  but not the individual or their background. As teachers we must work towards the students developing self discipline and understanding responsibility for actions. Ultimately we want students to behave responsibly because they feel it is important.

Suggestions for a referral system for challenging behaviour or under achievement in a secondary setting could be;

Tutor                 or/and                    Subject Teacher

to                                                                 to

Head of Year        or/and              Head of Department               or/and       Head of curriculum Area

to                                                                   to

School Attainment Officer / Learning Leader

to

Deputy Headteacher (Attainment or behaviour)

to

Head teacher

One of the best ways to ensure the students and staff (from a managers point of view) are all aware of the system is to be clear what the behaviour policy, attainment policy and marks scheme is.  Clarity from these adhered to by all ensures a more successful school.

Most schools have a clear marking scheme but if you are new to the job of coordinating or leading this maybe a good starting point. What makes this good is a child could have put E top effort in but got 1 for understanding making them feel their effort has been recognised. Whilst just on this subject it is also good to let parents and students know how you will be marking i.e. over a term you may mark 1/3 in-depth, 1/3 impressionistic and 1/3 self assessment.

In depth means marking to curriculum and subject/exam expectations of understanding and feeding back relevant information to help them develop their work to the next level or grade boundary.

It is also worth mixing things up a bit and also change seating so that students gain many experiences  and also develop their own learning strategies. once you are settled into school use a mix of 1/3 friendship grouping, 1/3 boy/girl seating and 1/3 teacher defined pairs (based on ability etc.)

EFFORT

PERFORMANCE

(Understanding/Knowledge/Skills)

Excellent Effort E 5 You really understand this work
Commendable effort G 4 You have a good understanding of this part of the work but with a   little more effort you will understand it better.
Satisfactory effort S 3 You seem to understand it but you need further work to understand it   better.
Unsatisfactory effort P 2 You don’t seem to have understood all of it, ask me for help.
No effort made C 1 You haven’t understood this. Please ask for help.

What is a good teacher?

Schools will now have new teachers arriving finding out what they need to start the job in September from newly qualified to those taking up their first management role.

Mentoring is really important for this group as they need to learn the schools ethos and how they fit within the community.  Some have very different ways of doing things but nevertheless get really good results.  So rather than seeing that they do things differently check whether they fulfil these attributes and this list from a school I previously worked at should help you make better judgements about your peers and their ability to do their job. This is particularly important of you are a new senior manager and have to observe other colleagues lessons.

Good teachers:

Are sympathetic to the needs and aspirations of all pupils –  I would add that as  senior manager this could be said of your staff as well.

Set clear targets and are able to provide positive reinforcement

Are able to engage and inspire pupils with their own enthusiasm

Have high expectations of all pupils – again as a senior manager just change the word to staff

Push all pupils to fulfil their individual potential – you can only do this if you know where they are and where they need to be.

Are both supportive and co-operative to colleagues – really important sometimes individuals forget it is not personal and by working as a team everyone achieves their best pupil or colleague.

Establish clear, consistent and realistic standards of behaviour – with realistic being the most important thing if they are not, you cannot sanction effectively and behaviour becomes a big issue. Secondly be consistent its the fairness that ultimately shows them that you are fair and finally as a team player within a set area or within the management team support those who establish these clear, consistent and realistic standards. Know what to do when they are challenged and need your help.

Know your subject area and employ a variety of interesting teaching methods remembering to include both boy and girl friendly activities as well as those that stimulate the kinaesthetic, and aural learners.

Use the management system and processes put in place to support teachers to do their job.  If you are on the team designing it them ensure they do what they say on the tin and are not heavy on time wasting exercises that get nowhere.

Be aware of an seek to establish relationships within the community

Prepare, support and contribute to the schools ethos

Make learning enjoyable not being afraid to laugh at themselves

above all like and respect the young people in their charge – if they do not it is  along day for both them and the pupils.