Including All Learners: Inclusion Difficulties

There are many elements that play a part in creating an inclusive classroom where children with disabilities are able to learn alongside typical peers. If a particular element was lacking in some way then this can cause inclusion and quality issues to a student’s education.

For an inclusive and successful education to take place for students with disabilities in general education classrooms there needs to be sufficient funding to cater for hiring support specialists and suitable resources for teachers and students. It is also important that school administrators, teachers, staff and parents all adopt inclusive attitudes. There needs to be a modified and adapted curriculum that can meet the requirements as well as the limitations of a diverse group of children. Students that have wheelchairs and other mobility aids, need to have easy access to the learning environment. Finally, a consistent channel of communication needs to exist with all individuals that are encompassed in educating students with disabilities.

From what I have seen and have experienced in schools, being able to have funds within a school to employ specialists and additional support staff can prove to be difficult and put pressure on a schools budget. With the economy being the way it is and with most school districts not having available funds to coordinate individual support for the children that require it, inclusion can suffer. The constraint of having a lack of funding can also impair the professional development of teachers and specialists in having the most up to date practices of inclusion.

Year on year schools have to fight for the right to have additional funding and in some cases schools have been forced to rely on ‘creative accounting’. Macbeth et al (2005) explains this as where a school borrows money from another budget within the school; for example, the literacy or numeracy budget, to provide resources for the children. Schools are also heavily dependable on children having written statements, as this means that funding will become available for a child to have a learning support assistant (LSA) or teacher assistant (TA) employed at the school. The drawback of this is that the local authorities only cover the LSA’s/TA’s for 15 hours a week, leaving the remaining time for the school to cover. Another factor schools can come across is when a child who is receiving funding for a disability is said to be achieving well, or improving academically by the school. The problem here is that schools can run the risk of this funding disappearing, if they were to share such results formally. It seems to be a double edge sword, with wanting to show children’s improvement, whilst still maintaining the funding that some schools desperately need to provide the resources and man power.

The success of inclusion is also very dependent on the teacher’s attitude towards inclusion in general (Dagnew, 2013). Teacher’s that believe in an inclusive classroom are the teachers who are vital to its success, by believing in their own ability to educate those children with special educational needs. Negative attitudes can be the root cause of less inclusive classrooms, often because of a lack of understanding and knowledge by the teacher. This is why it is important that teachers are able to get the necessary training that allows them to handle certain kinds of behavioural and learning needs and bridge any gaps which could threaten the inclusive nature of their classroom. Teachers who place low expectations on children with physical disabilities or learning difficulties run the risk of creating an anti-inclusive learning environment.

In mainstream schools there is now a greater emphasis on inclusion that continues to grow. In some cases schools are doing an excellent job at maintaining children’s interest and so receive an inclusive schooling experience. However, according to Macbeth et al (2005) when children experience exclusion from the schools social and academic life, they can find themselves in a mini separate school within the main stream school, described as internal exclusion. This can occur when particular children, for whatever reason, have differing break and lunch times compared to the rest of the children within the school. The following video web link by Martyn Rouse discusses this point. http://www.journeytoexcellence.org.uk/videos/martynrouseaboutinclusion.asp .

Accessibility is another important factor that can contribute to inclusion, or lack of within schools. It is quite evident that if a pupil has a disability, they will not be able to take part in an inclusive classroom if there is no access to it. As explained by Torreno (2012) there are still some schools with limited or no accessibility for children in wheelchairs or for those with other mobility aids. Some children would need the assistance of elevators, ramps, paved pathways and lifts to be able to get around the school buildings, and as previously mentioned, some schools do not have.

As is the importances of the environment children learn in a reflection of the schools inclusive nature, so musts its curriculum follow in the same way. Alexander (2010) states that inclusion has generally been regarded as requiring fundamental changes to schools, education systems and society with the outlook to accommodating pupils in all their diversity. Educators should not be impartial to collaborating with inclusion specialists in order to create modifications and accommodations for improving teaching methods and classrooms as well as homework assignments. This view is supported by the work of Torreno (2012). Following this notion, it highlights the significance for teachers to be adaptable to how their students learn and demonstrate knowledge and understanding. An example from my first school placement, where a child with autism, is treated like everyone else in regards to behaviour management by the staff at the school. When it comes to the work that the child produces the class teacher and the teaching assistants know that he will struggle with matching the quality and quantity of work that some of the other children can manufacture. So this child’s work is encouraged, but not pushed beyond its boundaries because the staff know the child will not always be able to accomplish particular classroom set tasks. The teacher and school staff, when they can, tries to facilitate the child through using different methods of teaching to impart knowledge and understanding, but the support is not always constant especially with the teacher having the pressure of the rest of the class to manage.

Having draw attention to some of the key elements which can cause difficulties with inclusion in schools, it seems only logical to address one final barrier. The barrier in question lies with when there is minimal communication between teachers, administrators, specialists, staff, parents and students. It is imperative to have constant channels of communication paired with coordinated planning among the general education teachers and special education staff in order for inclusion to work. There needs to be time set aside for teachers and specialists to be able to work together and to be able to establish well-constructed plans focusing on executing educational modifications regarding the curriculum. Individual students will also need to have specific goals and be supported by the collaboration between teachers, staff and parents in order to initially meet the student’s needs at school. This learning support also needs to be continued at home so that the students’ goals are reinforced.

 

 

References.

Alexander, R. ed., 2010. Children, their World, their Education. Routledge.

Dagnew, A., 2013. Factors Affecting the Implementation of Inclusive Education in Primary Schools of Bahir Dar Town Administration, [e-journal] 3(3). pp. 61. Available through: Bahir Dar University website <http://resjournals.com/ERJ&gt; [Accessed 16 November 2014].

Macbeath, J. Galton, M. Steward, S. Macbeath, A. Page, C. 2005. The cost of inclusion.[pdf], p18-44. Available at: < https://www.educ.cam.ac.uk/people/staff/galton/Costs_of_Inclusion_Final.pdf&gt;

Torreno, S. Bright Hub Education, 2012. Five barriers to inclusion in education. [online] Available at: < http://www.brighthubeducation.com/special-ed-inclusion-strategies/68827-five-barriers-to-inclusion-education/> [Accessed 15 November 2014].

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