Apr 042014
 

Dozens of young people with learning difficulties and their families have hit out at a decision to slash foundation learning courses for pupils with profound or moderate learning difficulties – from five days a week to three at One, formerly known as Suffolk One, in Ipswich. the link to the article in the East Anglian Daily Times is below.

Suffolk DPAC will be working with them to try to prevent this as the only other alternatives for their education are at special school sixth forms.

http://www.eadt.co.uk/news/ipswich_angry_parents_claim_education_of_children_with_learning_difficulties_will_be_damaged_after_one_cuts_foundation_courses_1_3478573#sharinganchor

As we know segregated classes within mainstream settings do not count as inclusive education. But neither does the forced placement of disabled learners in fully segregated settings of so called special schools, colleges, universities or any other learning environment. DPAC opposes both!

We refer all to our allies ALLFIE (The Alliance for Inclusive Education) for a better understanding of what inclusive education means and how it can be achieved-DPAC strongly supports Inclusive education as a fundamental principle of independent living and as the only way to achieve full equality and inclusion for all disabled people.

Please see the ALLFIE web site for more informaion on inclusive education and get involved in their campaigns

http://www.allfie.org.uk/

also please see the valuable comment from Joe Whittaker below

 

 

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  4 Responses to “More Cuts to Education: moving further away from Inclusion”

  1. Blackburn College has been active in promoting inclusive education for over 20 years and has demonstrated a clear commitment to effective support for all disabled students across the college .

    Joe Whittaker

    Inclusive Education at Blackburn College

    Blackburn College is a large general further education college situated in East Lancashire. It offers programmes of study from Entry level to Level 3 and if students wish to progress further it has a University Centre offering Degrees and Postgraduate study.

    ‘Inclusive’ at Blackburn College is simply that we see every person as a student first and then we look at the support that student might require to achieve their goals. This is undertaken without a discrete or segregated curriculum, the focus is on how we provide the diversity of support required by the person.

    Blackburn College started to dismantle the segregated classes and curriculum for students with the label of learning difficulty and disability in the early 1990s. At that time the Gateway building was the focus of this activity. Dedicated teachers and classrooms offered a special curriculum aimed predominantly at ‘independent living skills’.

    The classes were disbanded in response to our taking part in a report on the 19+ provision by the North West Training Development Team. The evaluation of our service gave me a completely different understanding on what I thought was my personal inadequacy as a teacher and as a programme leader. The report was the foundation for the College’s shift to inclusive practice.*

    To become inclusive means essentially changing a culture. This takes time! However, I would say that it needs to be supported by the Principalship and Governors if it has a chance of working effectively. The second change would be to transfer from a curriculum based model for supporting students to a cross college support model, where support for ALL students is recognised as the responsibility of ALL teaching staff. The funding of programmes might initially suggest there is no alternative to funding students with the label of learning difficulties other than in a segregated class, Blackburn college has demonstrated over twenty years this is not the case. Having clear values and principles about the rights of each student, having students and staff in the organisation who are committed to ensure human rights are applied in practice.

    The benefits for disabled students is that they are an integral part of the College, as for all students. This of course will be claimed by many institutions. However, by not providing segregated provision for students with significant support requirements the College alters the curriculum and offers support to allow all students to take a full part in College life. This benefits non-disabled students also in that they gain the benefit of additional teaching and learning strategies that are used by the tutors to include students who may require alternative support strategies. Often support staff will work across the whole group to avoid stigmatising any particular individual, this is often of benefit for those who need additional help but not in any sustained way. Activities designed for the group tend to have accessibility designed in and so ensure that students are aware by direct experience of the varying needs of each other. In vocational studies students will often use each other as models or in role plays, for example in the hair salons, where this allows for greater diversity of learning in customer needs and adds to the student’s employability.

    The teaching staff benefit from having others working with them in the classrooms and outside. Support tutors will bring a range of different strategies with them and develop ideas to deliver topics. Specialist tutors will adapt materials into alternative formats and support workers will offer help to all in the class when meaningful. It offers ongoing professional development in the classroom and the crucial understanding of diversity as a central element of good teaching and learning.

    If I was to be able to influence the education of people with additional support requirements in an inclusive way through legislation it would be to ensure that ALL students, including students labelled as having intellectual impairments will have an entitlement to a service from primary through secondary and higher education. This inclusive approach would ensure the educational journey is inextricably linked with appropriate and meaningful support throughout.

    Inclusion to me is simply: a Human Right. I cannot see the value in segregating some people from other people in a learning environment. It is not good for either party. Segregation can promote anxiety and ignorance, it diminishes an educational culture. If we want an inclusive and caring society we have to have an inclusive educational service.

    Anne Harwood
    Blackburn College.

    – See more at: http://www.allfie.org.uk/pages/articles/issue36.html#blackburn

  2. My understanding is that these segragated courses for learners with learning difficulties are not inclusive as indicated by the heading. Please feel free to see ALLFIE’s work on inclusive education. We are deeply concerned by the cut to inclusive education practice that has taken place since the Comden Government. Please join our campaign to support disabled learners rights to mainstream education. We believe that mainstream courses must meet the needs of all learners including those with profound or moderate learning difficulties. DPAC supports ALLFIE’s position on inclusive education.

  3. I got this update today from sue Edwards = fourteen families have started legal action with the top barrister in the country. We were getting no joy trying to even get Suffolk One to talk to us so we have taken other routes. Ben gummer MP and Therese Coffey MP have been helping. The local authority are also looking in to the legal aspects of what suffolk One is doing as the local authority are ultimately responsible for the education statements.
    Hopefully within the next couple of weeks We (Suffolk DPAC) will be helping with any campaigning that the students want to do.
    solidarity
    Martin (Suffolk DPAC)

    • Whilst I welcome any MP’s support to oppose the slashing of foundation learning courses for pupils with profound or moderate learning difficulties, from five days a week to three, it’s important not to forget that these two Conservative MPs have fully supported all the Welfare Reforms that have massively affected many people with disabilities (eg the closure of the ILF, and the introduction of the bedroom tax), and Therese Coffey has openly given her support to Maria Miller over her falsely (and one could argue, illiegally) claiming expenses, the very Maria Miller who was one of the Ministers who played a significant role in introducing the 2013 Welfare Reform Act.

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