Q. Inclusion is a key priority within Scottish education. What do you understand the concept of ‘an inclusive school’ to involve, and what are its implications for you as an individual teacher?
Since the introduction of the 1974 Education (Mentally Handicapped Children) (Scotland) Act, the legal right of all children to an education, no matter what their disability, has been a key priority within Scottish Education. The 1978 Department of Education and Science Warnock Report began the modern era of educational inclusion, by introducing the idea of integrating a broader group of children into mainstream schools. This was reinforced by the Scottish Education Department progress report by HM Inspector of Schools, also in 1978, which criticized the withdrawal of children from class for additional support on the grounds of curricular provision. Since the publishing of these reports, they have formed the basis of inclusion nowadays in schools and on a social level, not just in the UK, but also in the USA. The 1989 United Nations conference on the rights of a child asserted that all children have the right to a decent education no matter their disability (articles 28 and 29). The rights of a child have increased rapidly over the past 20 years; for example, the 2004 Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act (which was amended in 2009), introduced the term “Additional Support Needs” (ASN) and introduced new rights for parents and increased rights for children. Inclusion is not just focused on in the UK, in 1994 Salamanca set out an Agreement and Framework for Action, which advocates that all children ought to be taught in a mainstream school, which has an “inclusive orientation”. Inclusion is defined as “the process by which a school attempts to respond to all pupils as individuals by reconsidering its school organization and provision” (Sebba and Ainscow, 1996). This means that disabled children will spend most or all of their time with non-disabled children in schools, however, for this to be successful the severity of the child’s disability and the effect this will have on the non-disabled members of the class, should be taken into consideration. This is accounted for in the Standards in Scotland’s Schools etc. (Scotland) Act of 2000, which talks about the “presumption of mainstreaming” and states that all children will go to a mainstream school unless it is deemed educationally unsuitable, detrimental to other children, or too expensive. The Education Act of 1996 (including the amendment) defines the meanings “special educational needs”, “special educational provision” and the code of practice in schools. Furthermore, because of inclusion, it does not matter whether the child has a physical, mental or learning difficulty; he or she will still be included in the mainstream school society. As a student teacher, it is my responsibility to understand what I need to do for pupils with specific learning needs, to ensure they get the best education they can, with or without a disability. Within this assignment, the concept of “a fully inclusive school” and what it involves will be discussed. Following that, the advantages and disadvantages of a fully inclusive school will be investigated. In order for inclusion to work, it is the teacher’s responsibility to implement inclusion within their classes and the curriculum by catering for all their pupil’s educational needs. Therefore, the responsibilities of an effective teacher and how important their role is in enforcing inclusion within the schools curriculum will also be discussed.
A “fully inclusive school” is one which addresses inclusion throughout the curriculum; by ensuring that inclusion is enforced throughout the curriculum and by teachers, during and after class, physically; by mainstreaming disabled children with non-disabled children, and socially; by promoting the mixing and socializing...