11 May 2009

Getting inclusion right

Inclusion is recognised as one of the strengths of the school that I am a governor of but it is not something that we take for granted and we are looking to further improve our Inclusion Policy.

All schools practice inclusion to some extent as, at its simplest, inclusion means taking account of children's individual needs in lessons. For example, teachers are used to dealing with children who have Special Educational Needs, speak English as an Additional Language, are Gifted and Talented or have a disability.

But there is much more to inclusion that that. Full inclusion is making sure that nobody within the school community (pupils, staff, parents, visitors, etc.) are excluded from any school activities (teaching and learning, arts, sports, trips, meetings, etc.).

Full inclusion is probably not achievable, e.g. there could be parents with physical disabilities that the school is just not equipped to deal with, but it is a worth aim and in aiming for it we hope to identify and correct some practices where we are currently unintentionally excluding some people.

For example, do we have a mix of books in our library to attract children with different cultures and lifestyles? When I was at school all the books that I read seemed to be about children at private boarding schools (Billy Bunter, Jennings, Malory Towers, etc.) which was hardy something that I could relate to!

Some of the other areas that we need to check for their inclusiveness are curriculum, uniform, menus, learning resources, performing arts, play equipment, etc. And some of the possible reasons for exclusion that we need to consider in each case are culture, language, life-style (travellers, children living with grandparents, etc.) and religion.

A small example shows the sort of thing that is required. In 2002 many schools opened early on days that England was playing in the World Cup so that pupils (and staff) could watch the games. We did that but we also did the same from the other nations represented in our school, particularly South Korea.

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