Policy the CfE’. A main development within

Policy

Scotland is a country which
increasingly places great emphasis and value on the importance of an education
system that strives to create a meritocratic social system and strong democracy
(Devine 1999). The success of the education system and the children in it
depends immensely on external factors like teachers, parents, communities and
policies. In 2004 the Scottish education system was overhauled with the
introduction of ‘The Curriculum for Excellence’ (CfE) (Scottish Government
2004) a new curriculum designed to meet the needs and abilities of all children
through a more enriched system. The CfE was created with the intention of
developing learners into confident individuals, successful learners,
responsible citizens and effective contributors; also known as ‘the 4
capacities of the CfE’. A main development within the new curriculum is the
movement away from a system based upon standardised testing and towards a more
flexible and varied curriculum which takes the needs, abilities and levels of
all learners into account (Priestly 2013). As well as the development of a new
curriculum Scotland has also seen an array of policy changes and
implementations. Many administrations from previous Labour and current SNP
parties have produced polices committed to inclusion, social justice and
equality. For example, in 2007 Skills Strategy (Scottish Government 2007) was
created with one of its major objectives to ensure equal opportunity and
participation for everyone from all social economic backgrounds. Not everyone
is convinced that Scotland is the egalitarian society many paint it as, this is
a point that is argued throughout Mooney and Scott (2005). However, with much
of recent policies designed to see inclusion at the heart of education,
Scotland’s efforts and intentions cannot be argued.

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Scotland’s adherence for
inclusion has been further established by an extensive list of legislation
which includes ‘Statutory Guidance: Standards in Scotland’s Schools etc. Act
2000′ (Scottish Government 2000). Act 2000 seen that all learners would be
taught in mainstream school unless under special circumstances. The
circumstances that would lead to learners being placed in special provisions are
ones that would see a high financial expectation from the government if the
learner was to remain in mainstream school, was against the parents wishes or
if the learners attendance within a mainstream school would be detrimental to
other learner’s education or the education of themselves. in 2001, the
extension of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 was furthered to also
include education resulting in schools and local authorities’ responsibility to
make reasonable adjustments for disabilities as well as ensuring the equal
treatment for learners with disabilities. Local authorities were also obliged
by Scottish legislation to make and present accessibility strategies to record
the progress of the creation of inclusive environments. However, the
legislation wasn’t explicit resulting in auxiliary aids and services being
exempt and thus creating no legal obligation for resources or additional
personnel by local authorities which diminished the potential for
redistribution (Riddell 2006). Taking into account the increasingly wide range
of support required by many individuals, The Additional Support for learning
Act 2004 (Scottish Government 2004) saw the broadening of support available and
saw a shift in the definition of additional support needs (ASN). It also ensures
local authorities have a duty of care to identify and monitor learners needs
and requirements. The introduction of Act 2004 also resulted in the term ASN
replacing special education needs (SEN). It has been stated that this change in
the use of terminology transformed the education system for learners with ASN
(McKay and McLarty, 2008). The big difference between the two terminologies was
that SEN regarded specific physical or intellectual conditions whilst ASN
refers to various issues that could affect a learner. Additionally, ASN also
identified with a varied range of alternative components that SEN didn’t
consider resulting in learners with home issues, low self-esteem and many more
falling under the ASN category and therefore issuing them with the extra
attention that they previously didn’t get under SEN which ensured that these
learners had the same access towards experiences and outcomes as everyone else.
(Galbraith 2015).      

In 2007 the Scottish education
system saw the introduction of The National Framework for Inclusion (Scottish
Teacher Education Committee 2009). This framework’s intention was to ensure the
support and guidance of all learners and practitioners for the entirety of
their careers or education. It provides guidance which outlines what is
required to ensure inclusive practice within the classroom. The framework is
made up of 3 distinct areas: understanding, skills and abilities, professional
knowledge and values for inclusion. Another approach the government are taking
to ensure social justice and inclusion is ‘Getting It Right For Every Child’
(GIRFEC) (Scottish Government 2008). GIRFEC is designed to ensure a strong
relationship between all services that are in place to ensure the overall
wellbeing of a child e.g. social services, education system and health services.
One of GIRFEC’s key aims is intervening as soon as signs of an issue are
detected to prevent escalation; trying to be proactive and prevent a situation
rather than reactive and react to a situation. To aid in the detection of any
potential issues in a learner’s education, wellbeing or both, this framework
provides a set of wellbeing indicators, also known as the SHANARI Wellbeing
Wheel (Scottish Government 2014). There are many components that can affect a
child’s wellbeing at school including substance abuse, neglect, mental health
issues etc. If these issues are not recognised, then the learner may not
receive the adequate support which can in turn lead to both social exclusion
and exclusion in the classroom due to their inability to access the same opportunities
as others. The Scottish government are continuing to work towards the
implementation of more frameworks and policies to work towards a more inclusive
education system.    

 

Literature
Review

There is considerable
confusion with regards to what inclusion means within the education system. In
the 1990’s the development of the idea of inclusion was envisioned as a
replacement for integration. This replacement however, was described as too
limiting due to its sole intention being the increase of participation among
learners with special needs in mainstream schools, functionally and socially
(Florian 1998). Slee (2001) criticised integration, stating that it was in
essence a mathematical equation to figure out equity; measuring the degree of severity
of the disability with the intentions of calculating the additional resources
needed to accommodate the learner within the school (Equality = Additional
resources + Disabled Student). Due to inclusion being about the increase of
participation of learners within mainstream schools, whilst also focusing on the
changes needed within schools with regards to their practices, ethos,
structures and removing the structural, attitudinal and environmental barriers
placed on a learners participation, inclusion was seen as a favourable
alternative. However, researchers began to question areas of inclusion, in
particular, who was inclusion meant to include and including them into what. Meanwhile,
union representatives and their teachers were instead asking ‘why should they
be included and to what cost’. On the other hand, children don’t understand why
inclusion is so difficult to attain. Allen (2010) observed throughout her
research that the majority of learners that she encountered found the notion of
inclusion to be simplistic and an obvious right, this confused the learners as
something they found so blatantly obvious the adults have a hard time with the
experience. In a study looking at the rights of children, a sample of learners
looked at their school and what it needed to do to become more inclusive. The
learners immediately comprehended this to mean both removing barriers within
their school and the increase of participation (Allan et al. 2006). These
learners recognised the barriers almost imminently, finding issues with the
school structures, attitudes and environment. The learners, figuring this out
so easily, questioned why adults found it difficult to avoid exhibiting
attitudes and behaviours that so evidently hindered participation. Research saw
teachers explaining and discussing their greatest barriers to participation and
inclusion in education; this was something that both disabled and non-disabled
learners found to be upsetting (Allan 1999). At a diversity seminar for
learners, again teacher criticism was at the forefront with learners criticising
teachers for their ‘overprotection’ of the students with disabilities, stating
that teachers got in the way of their social interactions (Allan and Smyth
2009). Lewis (1995) and Davis et al. (2008), in researching children and young
people, discovered that the needs of disabled young people were far from
understood by adults. There appeared to be a wide misconception that
communicating with these disabled children would be challenging and ‘uninformative’.
 Studies have found that teachers are
suggesting that, within the current environment, inclusion could be an
impossibility (Thomas & Vaughan, 2004) due to teachers not having the
confidence to obtain inclusion with the current resources available (Hanko,
2005). Macbeath et al., (2006) found that amongst teachers there was a positive
relation towards inclusion, with them recognising the inherent benefits all
learners would receive however, concerns were expressed with regards to whether
mainstream schools could provide the right education needed for learners with
complex needs. Taking all of this into account Takala et al., (2012) concluded
that in order to obtain the goal of inclusive education, new knowledge and
skills are needed for the entirety of staff within a school to ensure that
inclusion works. Staff development and training is seen as essential to ensure
that all staff are competent and feel adequately confident in their skills to
actively teach inclusively (Pjil and Frissen 2009).

It has been stated that when
applying to different contexts, the continuing process of inclusion can be
described as problematic and complex (Booth, 1996). What Booth means by this is
that just because inclusion works a certain way in one school, doesn’t mean that
it would work the same way, or even be appropriate/beneficial in another. There
are a lot of different routes and different ways in which a school can obtain
inclusive education. Ainscow (2005) states that the journey of a practitioner’s
desire for inclusion can be seen as a perpetual exploration to find the best
ways of responding to diversity. Although teachers are said to be always
searching for better ways to instil inclusive practice into their classrooms,
learners themselves have been seen to exclude individuals on occasions. Frostad
and Flem (2008) found that learners with ASN are regularly not as popular, are
not always socially included, contribute substantially less when in a subgroup
and had fewer interactions/ relationships. The exclusion from social circles more
often than not was a result of less similarities with their peers and although
this issue can arise without malicious intent, it is an area that needs to be
solved to further enhance inclusion in education. Florian & Linklater
(2010) believe that there is a capacity for all learners to change and further acknowledge
and work on the need for inclusion, but this will require movement in the value
system of the learners and to insure sustainability of this movement inclusion procedures
and policy at a school based level will have to support this (Ainscow & Sandill,
2010).

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