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Social exclusion in the UK.

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Introduction

PART 1 The problem of social exclusion is not new, but common use of this term by policy makers in the UK is. Social exclusion is one of the biggest problems facing the world and society. The Social Exclusion Units definition is as follows: "Social exclusion is a shorthand label for what can happen when individuals or areas suffer from a combination of linking problems, such as unemployment, poor skills, low incomes, poor housing, high crime environments, bad health and family breakdown." [1] The Government (New labour) has made an evident commitment to tackling these problems by investing in education, making it a key priority. They have recognised that the gap between the rich and the poor is growing, and there is a need to raise achievement for all. Education has been used in the past as a mechanism, the government can use it to address particular socio-economic issues because of its universal application, and most importantly the children of today are the future of society. The main initiative has been to make schools more 'inclusive', in order to narrow the gap and reach a social cohesion. Inclusion has existed in the past, but now politicians are redefining its meaning as 'Social Inclusion'. "This broader definition relates not only to pupils who have particular needs, but also to the entitlement of all pupils to receive a high quality experience from the education system." [2] This has highlighted the need for schools to strive to be inclusive and reconsider their policies. The schools policy should operate to mean that every pupil, irrespective of disability, background or behavioural problems, should be given every opportunity to have full access to all teaching, facilities and help that the school can provide. Evidence provided when researching school effectiveness with emphasis on success for all, suggested that schools that are good for the minority groups are schools that are good for all. ...read more.

Middle

[7] Therefore giving the pupils concise learning objectives allows the pupils to know what the next steps are and what their aims should be for future learning. Teachers should be able to build on previous experience, interests and abilities of different pupils (inclusion) and be able to identify appropriate learning aims and assessment activities. The role of assessment in a socially inclusive school works to include all pupils. National tests are a form of summative assessment and allow the pupils to be tested when they have achieved the attainment targets at any one level and are ready to move onto the next level. In line with the National Guidelines, testing is currently being carried out in English and Mathematics with pupils in S1 and S2. In School X, they have policy were any child with a Record of Needs means his/her parents will decide whether or not he/she will undertake the National Tests, allowing the ultimate decision on whether they need to be 'included' and whether there is an educational gain in doing so. Reporting is often used to help pupils identify what they have learnt, what they have still to learn and what their next steps in learning are. Next-steps is a section on a pupils report which has teachers comments. In School X, it was recognized that the comments should not be left open-ended, therefore it has now been replaced with 'areas for development and next-steps'. Another section on the pupil report which was taken out was a 'target-setting' section; this featured a comment from pupil support/guidance, which was effectively just a summary of all the reports. It was identified that it was a waste of time and relayed no additional information than what was already there. A change of approach from teacher-focus to pupil-focus to give pupils further opportunities (inclusiveness) has meant this section on the report being replaced with a 'target-setting report'. ...read more.

Conclusion

Vocational courses are offered in many schools at S5 and S6 level. More recently a greater number of schools have been offering the courses at S3/S4 level. Vocational qualifications continue beyond school, and can be pursued at college, university, or in the workplace, suiting the needs of all pupils. In School Y, the work they are doing on making the curriculum much more flexible has meant that they are meeting individual needs much better and as a result is pushing attainment up. Certification of short-term courses like the Access course, acts as increased motivation and this affects the whole school and so a positive move towards inclusion. The first big step the school took was taking away the compulsory element in Modern Languages. A number of skill based courses have been put in as a choice, therefore pupils are doing other courses like Practical Craft Skills, Drama etc.. The response has been positive in terms of discipline, a comment from the school Regent claimed that there was very few discipline problems coming from classes in S3, whereas last year in comparison is quite dramatic. This is probably because pupils weren't motivated when they were all forced into French, therefore a significantly good change. In the Science department, they have taken away the Foundation/General Science course and replaced it with more stimulating courses of Intermediate 1 and Access in Physics, Chemistry and Biology. This has also worked well and the department is now keen to scrap their Standard Grade Sciences, and move into Intermediate 2 because they find the courses are much more stimulating and relevant. The national priorities set by the Government have meant schools have to prioritise what is important to their school and community in terms of promoting a positive ethos and providing an appropriate curriculum. As stated below: "There is also increasing recognition that curricular flexibility and innovative approaches to learning and teaching are necessary to improve the standards and quality of educational provision for all."[10] I agree with the statements in 'Count Us In', and hope that this assignment discusses the issues to reflect this. Word count: 3683 1 ...read more.

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