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The Learning Environment

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Introduction

The Learning Environment For inclusion to happen, the learning environment needs to be set out in order to ensure that the focus of any activity is always the children. Where possible, children should be given equal opportunities. All children should be considered when planning a learning environment - this may often need to be adapted for the needs of particular children, including those with Special Educational Needs, disabilities, language and communication problems and gender specific requirements. Burnham (2003) cites that 'the main principle of inclusive education is that all children have the right to be educated alongside their peers in a mainstream school'. She continues to argue that this should include children with SEN and disabilities, which might previously have been educated in another setting away from 'mainstream' schools. The SEN and Disability Act 2001, made changes in order to make it more likely that these children will be accepted into mainstream schools. However, it is not always possible to achieve this, or for every child to go into mainstream education for practical reasons - for example where more specialised provision is required. It is my experience that children with special educational needs which are supported by teaching assistants and the SEN department achieve inclusion. The TAs and SEN department encourage inclusion by ensuring that these children are able to understand, and therefore keep up with, the work being set - whatever their specific needs are. This is achieved by using differentiation in both classwork and homework and by offering study support as part of the timetable. The school also uses seating plans and a 'buddy' system to ensure inclusion of all members of the class. ...read more.

Middle

This view is further supported by MacBeath (2006) states that 'Physically sitting in a classroom is not inclusion. Children can be excluded by sitting in a classroom that's not meeting their needs'. He goes on to say that 'The typical secondary school timetable - rushing from physics, to history then French, say - was for some children as bewildering as being "on another planet". You might call it a form of abuse, in a sense, that those children are in a situation that's totally inappropriate for them'. By identifying the needs of the individual before they arrive at a school, provision can be made for suitable support at school. It must be concluded that assessing a child's individual needs before admitting them to any school is the best route in offering them an environment where they will benefit the most as an individual. In circumstances where total inclusion would be detrimental to the child's mental and/or physical wellbeing, that they may well be better placed in a 'special' school. However, the benefits of inclusion for those with less severe special educational needs far outweigh the negatives and lead to a more fulfilled person both academically and socially. Word count: 1170 References: Bullock (1975), The Bullock Report, available online at: http://www.dg.dial.pipex.com/documents/docs1/bullock.shtml. Accessed 23.02.2009. MacBeath, J (2006), School inclusion 'can be abuse', available online at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/4774407.stm. Accessed 17.02.2009 Burnham, L (2003), The Teaching Assistant's Handbook, Heinemann Educational Publishers, Oxford Cole, M (Editor) (2006), Education, Equality and Human Rights - issues of gender, 'race', sexuality, disability and social class 2nd Edition, Routledge, Oxon. Hayward, A (2006), Making Inclusion Happen - a practical guide, Paul Chapman Publishing, London. ...read more.

Conclusion

Now it seems to me we need to look much more about what it is that's happening in the schools that are successful, including a wide diversity of children and learn from that. And of course if a child is disrupting their learning or is a danger to themselves and others then we must take steps to help them but that doesn't mean that we should punish them by excluding them and sending them somewhere else, we should give them the support they need to actually do that. BARCLAY So JerryBartlett it's back then to those barriers that can be changed, schools can learn from successful schools. BARTLETT But there's also a need for a definition of concepts. Exclusion is not a punishment, it is sometimes the only mechanism available to practising teachers to ensure that children with emotional, behavioural special needs have their special needs met, have the specialist resources provided to them that are essential for them to achieve their potential. BARCLAY So two very different viewpoints there - Jerry Bartlett and Richard Rieser - thank you both. But we'd like to hear your views as a parent, a teacher or someone who has been or is being educated in a special school or included in mainstream education. How is it working for you? Call us now if you'd like to take part in Call You and Yours, the number is 08700 100 444 and we'll hear from as many of you as possible between half past twelve and one o'clock. Back to the Transcripts homepage Back to the You and Yours homepage The BBC is not responsible for external websites About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy Task 1 1 ...read more.

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