In children going into special provision and their needs

In today’s education system,
there is a large focus for teachers on inclusion within everyday practise
within the school. Scotland has grown to being an accepting welcoming country
for all and it is vital for the country’s attitude to be open that the schools
and teachers integrate an inclusive attitude and principles into every part of
the curriculum. This essay will look at how inclusion has progressed throughout
history and the level of inclusion in Scottish schools today and where there
are gaps for development and improvement.

 

In 1978 the Warnock Report was
published which stated that all students should be taught in mainstream
education instead of special schools which was previously stated in the Butler
Act in 1944. (Gillard, D 2007) Warnock argued that there were too many children
going into special provision and their needs could and should be reached in the
mainstream school. This report initiated the 1980 Education Act (Scotland)
which in turn gave parents more rights for inclusion of children with
additional support needs to partake in mainstream classes with access to
additional support when required. (Gillard, D 2007) The Warnock Report produced
and encouraged the term ‘special
educational needs’ rather than the previous term ‘handicap’. It was seen as
a far more positive term to describe children that faced barriers in their
learning. There were many recommendations within Warnock’s Report including integrating
children without additional support needs into the everyday life of a
mainstream school. In an attempt to reduce numbers of special schools it was
recommended that schools should provide classes or units where children with
additional support needs can attend but still be part of an inclusive community
within a mainstream school. Although there has been a general shift toward
inclusion within Scotland there is some that have serious concerns over
inclusion in schools. Mackie argues that inclusion, without the correct
resources could be a “ticking time bomb waiting to explode” for children with
additional support needs. (Mackie, 2004)

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There are two contrary opinions
that are discussed by Norwich (2008) concerning special schools. Children that
are taught in a mainstream classroom may not have the same range of specialist
resources which are available in a special school. Whereas children who are
taught in a special school may not have a sense of inclusion and acceptance by
peers. There are problems and challenges that a teacher may face if they have a
child in their mainstream class with additional support needs. In a survey
carried out by Norwich in 2007 there was feedback from teachers that the
‘typical’ student does not get the teaching time they are entitled due to a
teacher spending more time with a child who has additional learning needs. A
teacher faces many challenges when there is a large attainment gap within the
class and if a child with an additional support need is present in the class
this can take away the teaching time from the rest of the children. However,
teachers also feel that by the children being integrated into the classroom
teaches other children are far more accepting and inclusive attitude to all
levels of their peers. Children with their young and innocent mind will view an
additional support need in a completely different perspective than an adult and
seeing very few barriers between forming friendships. (Allan J, 2009) The
number of children with additional support needs in mainstream schools rose
from 3.7% to 4.4% over the 2007-2008 time period at primary level. (Allan J,
2009) This is initially down to the increase in special units within mainstream
schools meaning it is a much simpler transfer for a child to go into a
mainstream class when they are in a special unit. Also as society grows and we
gain a far more inclusive and open attitude to additional needs more children
and parents are happy to come forward and receive the correct support for the
child that more and more schools are able to provide in a mainstream setting.

 

School should produce and create
life skills for a child such as social skills and that is where inclusion for
all children is very important. It is vital for the whole school to have an
inclusive attitude and for school staff to work together in order to identify children
with additional support needs and support those children as appropriate. (Scottish
Government 2004) Schools should also be aware of the children in need of
support due to their home life; the child could be coming from a family who are
living in poverty, the child could be a carer for a parent or younger siblings
or could be getting neglected in the home. (GIRFEC) The staff should be trained
to spot signs of this and make sure the intervention processes initiated by the
GIRFEC policy is being carried out and staff are following the local authorities
guidelines to identify children in need of support. With the introduction of
the Special Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001 it brought three stages
of support that schools can provide for pupils with Additional Support Needs. The
three stages of support according to the act are; School Action, School Action Plus
and Statement of SEN. The School Action is the responsibility of the teacher to
adjust their pedagogies in order to accommodate children with Additional
Support Needs. The School Action Plus is when the teacher and school continue
to provide support for the child however will also have support and input from agencies
out with the school. The statement of SEN is when an assessment is made using a
variety of agencies initiated by the local council.

 

In 2000 there was the introduction
of the Standard of Scotland’s School Act which meant that each child was
presumed to be going straight into mainstream education with a few exceptions.
These were that if a child was present in a mainstream classroom had a negative
effect on their own education or other child’s education then they could be
placed in a specialised unit. (Riddell S, 2009) Also these exceptions included
if the child would cause a large expenditure on the budget and also if going
into mainstream school was against the wishes of the parents. In 2004 the
Additional Support for learning act got published (amended in 2009) which required
all councils to provide all their additional support needs policies to parents.

 

It can be argued that inclusion
is a bigger issue than just learning in the classroom and inclusion should not
only be associated with children with additional support needs. Exclusion does
not only take place within disabilities but it is present when somebody isn’t
capable of taking part in mainstream culture and community. (Booth, 1996)
Oliver states that an education policy should be created with health, housing,
social security and social skills all intertwined within the policy. (Oliver,
1998) Scotland is a very diverse and accepting country in today’s society and
has been for many years. From the Italians emigrating into Scotland to a huge
increase of Eastern Europeans in the last twenty years incorporating themselves
into Scotland society. The classroom today proves to be an ever growing and
culturally diverse environment. Children will be developing friendships with
children from different countries out with Scotland and this alone is creating
a more inclusive society for the future. By the classroom having a variety of
nationalities and the teacher’s inclusive attitude children should be getting
educated within an environment with very few barriers between nationalities and
for the teacher to embrace these different nationalities to enrich the children’s
learning and inclusive attitude in the classroom.

 

Within different regions of
Scotland there is also a very diverse culture and it is vital that teachers are
making the children aware of this. Eliot (1973) discusses that the country’s
cultural heritage should be preserved for a strong and educated society. Eliot
goes onto argue that the majority of society is not appreciative or even aware
of our diverse culture that is still to this day present in our society. From
our Celtic languages to our rich and fascinating past that has all shaped how
we live today too many people are only aware of their day-to-day lives around
them and not always aware of the broader picture. That is why to have an
inclusive classroom in order for the youth to be educated appropriately making
them aware of not only other country’s culture that are becoming intertwined
into our society but also that of our own diverse and broad culture. In Scotland
in 2011 there was the introduction of the 1+2 language policy meaning that each
child should have their mother tongue plus two other languages by the end of
primary school. (Scottish Government, 2011) This is not only vital for
producing literature skills but it also a very good method to integrate culture
into our classroom giving our child a far more inclusive attitude. As it is
stated in the Scottish Government Handbook discussing the policy, “regular access to native and fluent speakers to stimulate young people’s interest in language
learning and other cultures.” With English being one of the most broadly spoken languages, there is
becoming an ever-increasing attitude that being literate in English is enough
and there is little need to learn any other languages.  Therefore, by the introduction of the 1+2
language policy it is allowing children to grow their inclusive mind-sets by
learning important language skills and about the cultures that go along with
these languages.

 

Although a lot of attempts are being
made by teachers to create an inclusive environment in schools there are still
a lot to of developments required. Not all parents of children with Additional
Support Needs are convinced or content by mainstream education for their child.
Parents argued that not all schools were willing for full inclusion in the
classroom and they also felt that teachers weren’t full prepared or equipped for
dealing with children’s additional needs. (McTaggart, 1994) Children with
additional needs are often over protected by an adult in an educational setting
due to being so many rules and laws with a child in a mainstream school. These
laws can sometimes have an opposite effect on the child with additional support
needs as if a teacher has an over-protective attitude towards them it can stop
the child from socialising with their peers not allowing them to break down
barriers and create friendships. This was backed up by young people who said
that the teachers are guilty of ‘overprotecting’ students stopping them having social
interaction. (Allan and Smyth, 2009) There is also little guidance for teachers
with children in their class who have an additional support needs and how to
deal with this. Teachers argue that if they had clearer guidelines and resources
to equip them in dealing with children that have additional support need then
that would be a large step towards inclusion. (Allan J, 2009)

 

In conclusion, there has been
many efforts over the years to create a very fair and inclusive education system
in Scotland. Many laws and acts have been introduced such as Mary Warnock’s
Report in 1978 to more recent attempts of Inclusive Education such as the Additional Support for
Learning Act (Scotland) in 2009. Many educational researchers have written
reports discussing inclusion. Some have a very strong opinion that inclusion is
the best method for a child with additional support needs however there are
some experts such as Julia Allan at the University of Stirling who discusses
many negative results of inclusion for a child with additional support needs. Inclusion
continues to be part of the classroom in today’s school and teachers are
forever developing their skills and resources for dealing with inclusion. So,
although there are improvements to be made in equipping teachers there are many
successful efforts for an inclusive classroom in a Scottish school.

 

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