What is involved with making a school more inclusive?
One teacher shares the support offered at the school she teaches to make education more inclusive
Over 1.3 million children in England have special educational needs and the majority of these children (1.1 million) attend mainstream schools.
From an inclusivity point of view, this is a good thing – all children have the right to the same opportunities. However, eight in ten school leaders say they struggle to offer adequate support for these pupils due to insufficient funding.
To understand how schools can provide an inclusive environment, I spoke to one teacher whose school has risen to the challenge. She described how they support a child who has a genetic disorder that means they are incredibly fragile and have limited mobility.
The child’s condition means that they are too fragile to come into contact with others. Because of this, they cannot be left unsupervised – this in itself has an impact on social development, as they are always under the watchful eye of an adult.
To give such a child as much variation in social interaction as possible and to avoid over-reliance on one person, the staff need to take turns to provide support.
The school works closely with the family and medical professionals so that the correct level of care is put in place; communication is key between all of those involved.
“It is up to us as professionals to do the research and spend the time making all of the necessary arrangements – this takes time and planning but it is worth it when you see a child’s face light up when they are taking part in a classroom activity.”
The children in this specific child’s classes are also made aware of the specific needs. Teachers encourage the children to adapt how they play and talk with the child and share playground games that they can join in with.
Arranging a timetable
Attendance and general wellbeing can be affected by medical conditions as a result of tiredness, emotional needs, or pain.
Timetables and expectations, therefore, need to be flexible. Teachers at the school encourage the child to communicate when they need some time out, and provide an area where they can rest: this gives the individual child more control over when to take part in the class, and when to take a break.
Tailoring the environment
There are a few questions that teachers may need to answer when making sure their school is suitable for a child with a disability:
- Is there wheel-chair access?
- Are there suitable places to administer any medication?
- Are the toilets accessible?
- Does the classroom have a quiet area with cushions and blankets?
- Is the equipment suitable or does the child need their own pencils, scissors etc.?
- Is the outside area suitable?
The teacher we spoke to strongly believes that each and every child in her class should be able to access all the school has to offer.
All genetic disorders are very different and bring their own specific challenges. Inclusion will only work if everyone involved is well informed and schools are appropriately funded.
Teachers need to feel confident that they can provide support to every pupil that comes into their classroom.
The Inclusive Education Program by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade licensed under CC BY 2.0
Tags: Disability, education, genetic disorder, inclusive education, physical disability, schools, Special needs
This post was written by Claire Gillies