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The Unions Speak Out


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The NAS / UWT spoke out yesterday against the Government's policy of educating children with emotional behavioural difficulties in mainstream schools, calling the policy a disaster.The unions reported that schools were unable to cope with disturbed and violent students.There was much agreement that children's life chances were being destroyed by an inclusion policy that condemned many SEN students to failure and left other students trying to learn in classes that were constantly disrupted. The conference in LLandudno called for the reopening of special schools as an alternative to ' enforced inclusion '

Does inclusion actually deny students the equal opportunies that the policy claims to promote.?

I would favour a compromise solution with properly funded outreach support . Where special school placement is necessary working links between them and the mainstream schools can produce effective reintegration as long as the support is ongoing.

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I recently conducted a survey amongst students in my school to seek their views on many aspects of their school life. A surprisingly high number indicated that they dislike the disruptive behaviour of some students who prevent them from learning. I suspect that this view would be mirrored in a majority of schools.

As we are almost never able to find suitable 'special school' places for the worst of our 'rogues', our only option is to permanently exclude them. These students are therefore failed by the existing system completely.

To 'include' the slightly less problematic students we have employed a specialist behaviour support teacher who has achieved a significant degree of success in enabling them to remain in school. It is not a perfect solution however, and some level of disruption still occurs daily. Again we fail those students who want to learn.

There is a need for a much more flexible system to allow schools to move disruptive students quickly off the main school site and into an environment which has the resources to address their unacceptable behaviour but still give them the opportunity to learn. Their stay there could and should be short initially but might become permanent if they are still unable to cope with the mainstream environment.

I agree with you Anne, essential ingredients are properly funded support and effective working links between schools and the 'special schools'. Another major breakthrough would be to give schools the authority to make decisions about those individuals who should be moved out of mainstream classrooms, rather than to the 'experts' and 'advisers' in the LEA who don't have to deal with them on a daily basis! ;)

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Absolutely spot on! My union here has been saying this for years. We have exactly the same problem here in Tasmania, except made worse by the fact that

a) we have no govt funded EBD or PRU units whatsoever and we are about the size of Ireland

;) we also mainstream many seriously and multiply physically disabled students who, in other countries, would be in a special school. This is partly because of the philosophy here and partly because of the sparse and flung out population which means there are no special schools near enough for some. This places huge strains on our teachers and TAs who in some cases have to perform complicated medical procedures on a daily basis as well as teach the other kids

I've been doing a bit of trawling of the US system and there appears to be a backlash happening there from students who were mainstreamed, now young adults, who are threatening litigation on the grounds that they did not receive sufficient life skills training to maximise their potential.

I am certainly going to run that line with our govt here because I think it's absolutely valid. Special schools provided so much more individual attention, specialist services and real understanding of the problems.

The problem, of course, is money. It's very expensive to do this sort of thing well. I agree that special units on campus is a better way to go.

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Does inclusion actually deny students the equal opportunies that the policy claims to promote.?

I would favour a compromise solution with properly funded outreach support . Where special school placement is necessary working links between them and the mainstream schools can produce effective reintegration as long as the support is ongoing.

I agree but this has major funding implications. The decline is the standard of student behaviour is a complex issue but I am convinced a major factor in this is the government policy of keeping children with behavioural difficulties in mainstream schools. As one delegate at the conference said, teachers are being forced to “sideline teaching in favour of trying to coerce unwilling and, increasingly, aggressive children into behaving in an appropriate manner, or, if all fails, just keeping them in the classroom.”

Just one severely disturbed child in a class has a tremendous impact on the rest of the class. How many excellent teachers have left the profession because of the behaviour of these children? This is a particular problem for the committed teacher who is bound to feel a deep sense of failure when faced with such an impossible situation.

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The 'major funding issues' are also rather complex John. As you say, the number of good teachers who leave the profession because they are not prepared to deal with the so called 'challenging' behaviour of students present governments with the need to find and train replacements at an increasingly rapid rate. This is not a cheap activity and I would suggest that it probably costs rather more that the provision of appropriate special units! I wonder if anyone has done the sums?

I read recently that most newly qualified teachers state that they are not planning to remain in the profession for more than 5 years. If this is indeed the case the problems will continue to be compounded as the teacher population becomes less experienced, with fewer real specialists available to work with special needs students.

Governments have got to start looking further than the end of their nose. They need to consult with people who are actually working with these youngsters on a daily basis. If nothing else they need to look at the 'bigger picture' and consider what impact their actions are going to have on the voters of tomorrow, and certainly take careful note of what Jaywalker reports is happening in the US!

I've been doing a bit of trawling of the US system and there appears to be a backlash happening there from students who were mainstreamed, now young adults, who are threatening litigation on the grounds that they did not receive sufficient life skills training to maximise their potential.

The UK, for one, is not far behind in the litigation stakes. We only have to look at the increasing number of teachers who are being taken to court by students for actions allegedly taking place in classrooms!

Does anyone know whether this forum is actually being viewed by anyone (genuine) in government? Perhaps it might be of some interest for them to do so! ;)

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I wonder if the problem is that a policy of "inclusion" like "care in the community" is a good policy if properly funded but a disaster if it is just a way of cutting costs.

*It is a good thing that a comprehensive system seeks to be as comprehensive as it humanly can.*

However, I agree with Maggie Jarvis that a policy of "inclusion" which ends up with some children being excluded from any education at all is hardly a step forward. Yet we all know that there are pupils who would have been excluded in the past who are coping today (with support) in mainstream schools. There *are* success stories. With better funding there would be more.

Children are paying the price for a lack of money which is a result of conscious decisions by politicians to spend it on something else (you could fill in your own example here...mine would be killing unarmed civilians in Iraq!)

Oh and by the way

Does anyone know whether this forum is actually being viewed by anyone (genuine) in government?

Find someone genuine in this government? Does that sound likely?

Derek McMillan

socialist

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By' including ' students with significant behaviour problems in our mainstream schools are we are setting them up to fail ?.Should a school placement be allowed to break down and a student face permanent exclusion before action is taken.Home tution is hardly the answer.

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Having close connections with our feeder primary schools I know that there are numbers of children aged under 11 years who display significant behavioural problems. These children are already being excluded from school as a result of their poor behaviour but can be enrolled in another school fairly easily owing to their close proximity to one another. Some of these children move schools several times during their primary career! Already they are being failed by the system that fails to address their needs.

It is when these children come to enrol in a secondary school that these issues really seem to come to a head because it is much more difficult to move from school to school as there aren't so many of them. The travelling to more a distant school becomes impractical (and expensive) so 'home tuition' is supposedly the answer when they are excluded permanently. Of course, as Anne says, it is certainly not the answer - in my experience it is a total waste of time!

Should we perhaps be looking much more closely at addressing the problems that show in our younger pupils rather than waiting until they become much less manageable at secondary level? Help at this stage is largely 'fire fighting' whereas at a young age there may be a greater chance of changing a child's unacceptable behaviour and supporting the parents to support the child!

Sorry about the comment regarding 'genuine in government' Derek - stupid of me!! :lol:

Edited by Maggie Jarvis
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