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Enabling Effective Inclusion. This school development plan focuses on enabling the effective inclusion of children with Special Educational Needs (SEN) based on an investigation into the most significant aspects of the Steiner School learning environment

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Introduction

´╗┐Whole School Development - Enabling Effective Inclusion Abstract This school development plan focuses on enabling the effective inclusion of children with Special Educational Needs (SEN) based on an investigation into the most significant aspects of the Steiner School learning environment. The learning environment was divided into four categories for examination; ?Physical Factors?, ?Relationship Factors?, ?Structures and Expectations?, and ?Language and Communication Factors? (DfES, 2005). An interpretative approach was taken to collect qualitative data using marginal participant observations and a semi-structured interview. The results indicate that the relationship factor was most significant in supporting inclusion, as it also strengthened the community into which the children are included. School development plan with critical analysis and evaluation (500 words approx) ?Education is a basic human right and the foundation for a more just society? (Ainscow et al. 2006:2). All children, including those with Special Educational Needs (SEN) must therefore have access to this basic human right and for this to occur inclusion is vital. For the purpose of this research the definition of SEN is the one which the Steiner School currently use: ?A pupil has Special Educational Needs if they have additional needs which impact on their learning and necessitates that special educational provision to be made for them? (Steiner School SEN policy, 2010:1). The Ofsted SEN and Disability Review (2010) ?found that just over one in five pupils ? 1.7 million school-age children in England ? are identified as having special educational needs? (Gillie, 2010:7). This highlights why the issue of inclusion of learners with SEN is a matter which requires urgent attention as they represent such a significant proportion of society (Salt Review, 2010:3). In order to carry out the necessary research for an effective development plan, it was decided to focus on a school that approached inclusion differently (Baker & Zigmond, 1995). Rather than look at UK state schools this research was conducted around Steiner Schools which exist worldwide, and offer an alternative to mainstream schooling, based on Rudolf Steiner?s educational philosophy (Woods, et al, 2005:4). ...read more.

Middle

Steiner Schools ?occupy a wide range of premises. Some are in purpose built modern buildings . . . Yet others have resorted to ingenious adaptations of premises ranging from barns to disused churches? (Woods, et al 2005:19/20). Steiner Schools are independent schools which currently do not receive state funding. However, the fees to attend are kept as low as possible because Steiner Schools aim ?as far as possible, not to be financially exclusive? (Steiner Information Booklet, 2010:13). Income fees are therefore ?augmented by dynamic fundraising which is vital to the schools development? (Steiner Information Booklet, 2010:13). Whether these funds are enough to provide sufficient support for learners with SEN is debatable. ?Over the past twenty years more attention has been given to the learning environments of pupils who have SEN? (Frederickson & Cline, 2009:194). The DfES (2005) suggests that there are four main categories of factors involved with the learning environment of a school. These are; ?Physical factors?, ?Relationship factors?, ?Structures and expectations?, and ?Language and communication factors? (Frederickson & Cline, 2009:194). Research by Ainscow, et al (2006:5) found that different schools ?thought about inclusion in different ways?. Some may focus more on supporting inclusion through the physical factors such as ?the layout of the school and classroom, its facilities and the resources children use?, whereas other schools may focus on the language and communication factor, looking at ?the way that relationships, structures and expectations are manifested through verbal and non-communication in the school? (Frederickson & Cline, 2009:194/5). Other research such as that by Ekins and Grimes (2009:7) describes how inclusion is reachable if schools ?make the processes much more meaningful and valuable by engaging with them in a more holistic way?, taking into account all the factors. There is clear debate amongst practitioners in regards to what factor effects the inclusion of learners with SEN the most, whether it is all of the factors combined or one in particular. ...read more.

Conclusion

There is clear evidence that each factor of the learning environment can be used to support inclusion although it is debated whether inclusion is in fact the best way of supporting learners with SEN. Kauffman & Hallahan (1995:1) argue that ?inclusion of all students with disabilities in regular education programs . . . offers only an illusion of support?. Warnock (2005) also offers a very different opinion to that which is portrayed in her earlier reports, stressing that inclusion into mainstream schools is not the answer for all individuals. Regardless of this, the implementation of inclusive practices must still be improved and understood in order to provide effective support to those children for whom inclusion into mainstream schools is beneficial. This is another reason why the ongoing training of teachers is crucial, and why any research into the subject is important for the welfare of children with SEN whom it is vital to be included. Sufficient training and in-depth research into the field of inclusion are essential if teachers are to improve as practitioners. It is for this reason that the focus of this study has been based around the learning environment of the Steiner school. It was considered that this would enable a deeper knowledge of areas that could be used to support the inclusion of individuals with SEN. It can be extremely difficult for someone without special educational needs, to fully understand the challenges a child with SEN faces every day. No two children are the same, and therefore the approach and teaching method used for each child may be different. The more methods and approaches practitioners are aware of, the more likely they are to be able to provide the correct support for learners and create inclusion, whether they practice in a state school or otherwise. Any knowledge that gained through conducting this research on providing inclusion will be of wider benefit because effective inclusion is ?effective for all students, both with and without special education needs?(Jordan, et al, 2009:). ...read more.

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