Spidey’s Serene Sunday – Part 340 – Inclusion

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“Every student can learn, just not on the same day, or in the same way.”

George Evans

Thanks, Spidey, for this thought provoking quote, today.

I have completed my first week with my students, and though they are only in for half days, I finished the week mentally, physically, and emotionally drained.

I have been blessed with a lovely class of children. I can see myself falling in love with them all, as I do, every year.

But, for the second year, in a row, the Special Educational Needs, or SEN, is on the rise.

There appears to be a lot more early diagnosises for children on the Autistic Spectrum.

Within our cohort of less than sixty children there are seven, possibly eight, children either already diagnosed, or on the path to being diagnosed with ASD.

That, in itself, isn’t a problem. The Government and DfE promote inclusion, and ensuring learning for all, within mainstream schools, but, when the needs are severe, even us mere mainstream schools struggle.

Some of the children we have will be able to benefit from small group work, and simple interventions. Some are high functioning, so with a little guidance, will be able to access the learning we are providing.

However, there are that handful of four or five who require one to one help, and even with that support, will never access the curriulum we teach, at the same stages as their counterparts.

As teachers, we really want to incude all children in our learning, but what if there are children who really can’t cope? What if we can’t provide the envirmnment that they need to thrive, at their own pace?

It’s tough as a parent, for someone to tell you that your child may have difficulties learning, and that maybe, mainstream school isn’t for them…

But, equally, in the right environment, that child can reach the same destination as the others, maybe a little later, but they could.

I often say to parents who are wavering on accepting that their child may be a little different from the others, that sometimes brains are wired a little differently, meaning they need an alternative way to learn.

My SEN SatNav analogy is that most of us are able to program our learning SatNavs, and get the majority of our class from A to B, via that motorway route. Some children need to use an A road instead. We can still travel with them, even though there might be a little delay in getting to that destination. Then, some children have diversions from the Motorway and the A roads, and they can only take the B roads. They will take longer to arrive at their destination. The road is narrower, so, taking smaller steps to reach the end goalpost, means that it will take longer.

As a teacher in a mainstream school, I can travel that Motorway journey with the class. I can even accompany some of them that need it, on the A roads, but sometimes, the B road needs a different driver, as in a special provision. Somewhere tailored to suit the learning needs of that particular child.

It’s not inclusion, I grant you, but there are children who will not benefit from being pitted against the rest of the class, in an environment that could prove toxic for them, if the right support isn’t in place.

Inclusion is great. But unfortunately, it isn’t for everyone, as much as I’d like it to be.

There, we have the problem. Instead of having places available in special provisions, the powers that be are shutting, or have closed down many of these schools that could cater for the children that need the B road journey. Sure, there’s funding available for the possibility of one to one support, but you have to jump through so many hoops to get it, and even then, you can’t guarantee that you will just find a suitable candidate to support that child. And then there is the fact that many school don’t have the space to create separate areas for children who may need more sensory stimulation, or less, than the others…

So we, as mainstreams schools, are caught between a rock and a hard place. We want what’s best for all our children, and there are times, we simply can’t provide it all, or we can attempt it, but to the detriment of the rest of the class…

Can’t win…

Still, I love my class, and will endeavour to get them to the destination, one way or another…

So, what about you? What do you think about inclusion, or special provisions?

namaste

Wishing you a wonderfully peaceful Sunday, Peeps!

37 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jennie
    Sep 18, 2021 @ 15:25:33

    Yes, yes, yes!! Your roadway analogy is perfect. This is how it is everywhere for children who need extra guidance, and for schools who serve those children. You write with the facts, and with a big heart and understanding. Those children are lucky to have you, Ritu. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  2. Leanne
    Sep 12, 2021 @ 18:40:32

    Whole-heartedly agree. Every student can learn just not on the same day or in the same way. I know that I can learn almost anything, however, sometimes, I need Road B because Road A didn’t work. Part of life is learning how you learn, and knowing how you learn will help you later on when there’s no one to travel that road with you. Wonderful post, Ritu ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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    • Ritu
      Sep 12, 2021 @ 18:52:39

      Thank you, Leanne! This is precisely my thought. If a child us given the chance to learn in the way they are best suited, taught the tools to support themselves, then they can, mostly, succeed, as well as others.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply

  3. willowdot21
    Sep 12, 2021 @ 17:15:08

    When my lads were at school I had to fight for every piece of help I could get. My eldest was what was termed as hyperactive. He he needed to be occupied 24/7. I got not help from school luckily I had a great GP. ….my middle lad was , is dylexsive I had to fight to get help, I came up against pure hostility and doors slammed in our faces at junior and senior school.. They even threatened to send him to a school miles away from us.
    We paid a tutor in the end. Our youngest had no real problems apart from the norm. All of them have good jobs, two high up in IT the other has been a prison officer and now works at the airport in a people handling job. They have partners and are happy. They got there despite school. Thank God things have changed, bless you Sis 💜💜

    Liked by 1 person

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    • Ritu
      Sep 12, 2021 @ 17:19:26

      In times past, Sis, no one really understood these difficulties.
      Now, dyslexia can be aided with so much, and hyperactivity, or ADHD has certain ways to to be treated.
      We still don’t know enough about ASD and all its forms, only that some are more severe than others, and trying to fit square pegs into round holes may not be the answer…
      But, your boys have done so well! 💜🤗🙏🏼

      Like

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  4. Rae Longest
    Sep 12, 2021 @ 17:08:17

    Before the days of “autism” awareness and support for special needs children, I took on a class of 11 “regular learners” and 11 identified as having “special ed needs.” With these children came an aide, who was to offer support and look after these “special” sixth graders. She was amazing; she expected their best at all times, and when they didn’t try, she destroyed their papers and made them start over and do it right. She not only became a good friend, but she later became my neighbor. That was one of the most enlightening, “fun” years of teaching in my over fifty years in the classroom!

    Liked by 1 person

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    • Ritu
      Sep 12, 2021 @ 17:10:06

      Wow! Well, at 4 and 5, it’s a bit harder to reason with the children who have SEN, as their communication and language skills are still quite poor!
      I’m so glad you had some support, but 11… all at once! Wow, again!

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply

  5. johnrieber
    Sep 12, 2021 @ 16:26:55

    It’s important for you to acknowledge this…how can we expect 25-30 individuals to have the exact same ability to learn at the exact same pace? It’s sad to hear that there is a rise in learning challenges among the children you meet…as always, a huge bravo to you and all Educators who are on the front lines of this issue every single day.

    Liked by 1 person

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  6. Keith
    Sep 12, 2021 @ 13:16:28

    Ritu, great post. This may be the best reason every class needs a teacher’s assistant. For those who need a little more time, either the teacher can take them to the side and let the assistant run the class or let the assistant take the one’s having trouble for extra lesson. In my state, TAs are the first to get cut in the budget and it is shame. Keith

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    • Ritu
      Sep 12, 2021 @ 13:23:32

      Those children who need that A road instead of the Motorway, definitely need a class with both teacher and TA. If they need that B Road that is where inclusion can be a struggle, if our environments aren’t suitable for those children’s needs. But, Keith, we do try!

      Like

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      • Keith
        Sep 12, 2021 @ 13:49:04

        Ritu, I know you do move mountains. Thanks. My mother was a teacher. My wife has volunteered to help the younger classes on occasion. She calls it giving the kids having trouble a soft place to land, as they read in the back as the teacher moves on. Indeed it takes a village. Keith

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ritu
        Sep 12, 2021 @ 13:54:02

        So, so, so true, Keith!

        Like

  7. OIKOS™- Art, Books & more
    Sep 12, 2021 @ 12:34:19

    I think you explained it very well, Sis! Sometimes it will be difficult for a student to find another path in the same class. The others could think of a preference. But you do it very well. You have real inclusion. Just yesterday, I was angry about a newspaper article from the region. Here it is called inclusion when, as in the past, children with special needs are separated before they start school, and are put in home facilities and special schools. In my meaning thats definitely not inclusion,.But all this schools for children with special needs are driven by one of the major churches, and they will earn all the money given by international organisations. Have a nice rest of the weekend, Sis. Thank you for your efforts on building a better community. xx Michael

    Liked by 1 person

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  8. OIKOS™- Art, Books & more
    Sep 12, 2021 @ 12:30:56

    Reply

  9. robertawrites235681907
    Sep 12, 2021 @ 12:23:07

    I have two very different children, Ritu. Greg is super bright and needs continuous stimulation. He is in a private school for boys that is ultra academic. They stream the boys in the upper grades for all subjects so that the boys who can go ahead aren’t held back. Bright kids who are held back often become problem kids. My younger son was at a remedial school for 5 years. I think this was the best thing we could have done for him. He had the right teachers who were trained to help he learn to cope with his learning barrier. The classes were small so the teachers weren’t overwhelmed. Michael benefited hugely from that school. He needs support in high school but doesn’t get a lot at school. I have to give him a lot of help and we have tutors for certain subjects. I can’t expect his teachers, with 25 boys in a class, to give Michael one on one, so I’ve made another plan. One size most certainly doesn’t fit all.

    Liked by 1 person

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  10. CJ
    Sep 12, 2021 @ 09:11:49

    It’s so very difficult isn’t it. I can imagine how torn you are between meeting the needs of your whole class and ensuring that individuals have what they need as well. I hope the year goes well for you and that everyone finds their way.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    • Ritu
      Sep 12, 2021 @ 09:15:36

      Thank you, CJ. It is indeed a situation where we feel torn
      Despite having a good support network in my class the level of need means those specific individuals take away the support for the rest of the class, and, though they don’t have specific educational needs,many of the rest still need a lot of support, which I have to juggle… and thats not fair on them 😢
      I hope we find the right paths for these children 🙏🏼

      Like

      Reply

  11. Lokesh Sastya
    Sep 12, 2021 @ 09:05:26

    Best wishes to you and your children.💐💐

    Liked by 1 person

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  12. TanGental
    Sep 12, 2021 @ 08:32:22

    I can see the appeal of inclusion but it’s an ideal not a practicality. You need to try and tailor the provision, don’t you? And that won’t be possible in one place which was designed before such needs were considered. Your approach sounds right though I can fully understand the difficulty for the parents.

    Liked by 1 person

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    • Ritu
      Sep 12, 2021 @ 09:06:02

      This is precisely it, His Geoffleship. I’d love to be able to provide an inclusive education for all, but our premises won’t allow it, nor will lack of funding, as we won’t have the adults needed in order to support that inclusion.
      We are trying our hardest, stretched to our limits, but when inclusion means we are unable to focus on the majority, more, where is it really ‘inclusion’? I’m almost excluding those who are on that motorway to learning, leaving them at the service station, while trying to deal with the B road passenger, who’s stuck behind a tractor!
      (This road analogy is finding wings!)

      Like

      Reply

  13. Steve Tanham
    Sep 12, 2021 @ 07:56:14

    A beautiful and soul-stirring blog, Ritu. A world I have little knowledge of, though my wife’s sister would echo your sentiments. ‘Loving care is everything, she says. And a thank you to the teachers who work so hard to deliver it… thank you 🙏

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    • Ritu
      Sep 12, 2021 @ 09:02:08

      Thank you, Steve. It’s so, so hard, to juggle the unrealistic expectations of the DfE, with the needs of our children. Regardless, we want what’s best for them, and sometimes inclusion isn’t it, especially at the beginning… but I love all those little souls, regardless… 💜🙏🏼

      Liked by 1 person

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