PolicyScotland is a country whichincreasingly places great emphasis and value on the importance of an educationsystem that strives to create a meritocratic social system and strong democracy(Devine 1999). The success of the education system and the children in itdepends immensely on external factors like teachers, parents, communities andpolicies.
In 2004 the Scottish education system was overhauled with theintroduction of ‘The Curriculum for Excellence’ (CfE) (Scottish Government2004) a new curriculum designed to meet the needs and abilities of all childrenthrough a more enriched system. The CfE was created with the intention ofdeveloping learners into confident individuals, successful learners,responsible citizens and effective contributors; also known as ‘the 4capacities of the CfE’. A main development within the new curriculum is themovement away from a system based upon standardised testing and towards a moreflexible and varied curriculum which takes the needs, abilities and levels ofall learners into account (Priestly 2013). As well as the development of a newcurriculum Scotland has also seen an array of policy changes andimplementations.
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Many administrations from previous Labour and current SNPparties have produced polices committed to inclusion, social justice andequality. For example, in 2007 Skills Strategy (Scottish Government 2007) wascreated with one of its major objectives to ensure equal opportunity andparticipation for everyone from all social economic backgrounds. Not everyoneis convinced that Scotland is the egalitarian society many paint it as, this isa point that is argued throughout Mooney and Scott (2005). However, with muchof recent policies designed to see inclusion at the heart of education,Scotland’s efforts and intentions cannot be argued. Scotland’s adherence forinclusion has been further established by an extensive list of legislationwhich includes ‘Statutory Guidance: Standards in Scotland’s Schools etc. Act2000’ (Scottish Government 2000). Act 2000 seen that all learners would betaught in mainstream school unless under special circumstances. Thecircumstances that would lead to learners being placed in special provisions areones that would see a high financial expectation from the government if thelearner was to remain in mainstream school, was against the parents wishes orif the learners attendance within a mainstream school would be detrimental toother learner’s education or the education of themselves.
in 2001, theextension of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 was furthered to alsoinclude education resulting in schools and local authorities’ responsibility tomake reasonable adjustments for disabilities as well as ensuring the equaltreatment for learners with disabilities. Local authorities were also obligedby Scottish legislation to make and present accessibility strategies to recordthe progress of the creation of inclusive environments. However, thelegislation wasn’t explicit resulting in auxiliary aids and services beingexempt and thus creating no legal obligation for resources or additionalpersonnel by local authorities which diminished the potential forredistribution (Riddell 2006). Taking into account the increasingly wide rangeof support required by many individuals, The Additional Support for learningAct 2004 (Scottish Government 2004) saw the broadening of support available andsaw a shift in the definition of additional support needs (ASN). It also ensureslocal authorities have a duty of care to identify and monitor learners needsand requirements. The introduction of Act 2004 also resulted in the term ASNreplacing special education needs (SEN). It has been stated that this change inthe use of terminology transformed the education system for learners with ASN(McKay and McLarty, 2008). The big difference between the two terminologies wasthat SEN regarded specific physical or intellectual conditions whilst ASNrefers to various issues that could affect a learner.
Additionally, ASN alsoidentified with a varied range of alternative components that SEN didn’tconsider resulting in learners with home issues, low self-esteem and many morefalling under the ASN category and therefore issuing them with the extraattention that they previously didn’t get under SEN which ensured that theselearners had the same access towards experiences and outcomes as everyone else.(Galbraith 2015). In 2007 the Scottish educationsystem saw the introduction of The National Framework for Inclusion (ScottishTeacher Education Committee 2009). This framework’s intention was to ensure thesupport and guidance of all learners and practitioners for the entirety oftheir careers or education. It provides guidance which outlines what isrequired to ensure inclusive practice within the classroom. The framework ismade up of 3 distinct areas: understanding, skills and abilities, professionalknowledge and values for inclusion. Another approach the government are takingto ensure social justice and inclusion is ‘Getting It Right For Every Child'(GIRFEC) (Scottish Government 2008). GIRFEC is designed to ensure a strongrelationship between all services that are in place to ensure the overallwellbeing 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 aredetected to prevent escalation; trying to be proactive and prevent a situationrather than reactive and react to a situation. To aid in the detection of anypotential issues in a learner’s education, wellbeing or both, this frameworkprovides a set of wellbeing indicators, also known as the SHANARI WellbeingWheel (Scottish Government 2014).
There are many components that can affect achild’s wellbeing at school including substance abuse, neglect, mental healthissues etc. If these issues are not recognised, then the learner may notreceive the adequate support which can in turn lead to both social exclusionand exclusion in the classroom due to their inability to access the same opportunitiesas others. The Scottish government are continuing to work towards theimplementation of more frameworks and policies to work towards a more inclusiveeducation system. LiteratureReviewThere is considerableconfusion with regards to what inclusion means within the education system. Inthe 1990’s the development of the idea of inclusion was envisioned as areplacement for integration. This replacement however, was described as toolimiting due to its sole intention being the increase of participation amonglearners with special needs in mainstream schools, functionally and socially(Florian 1998).
Slee (2001) criticised integration, stating that it was inessence a mathematical equation to figure out equity; measuring the degree of severityof the disability with the intentions of calculating the additional resourcesneeded to accommodate the learner within the school (Equality = Additionalresources + Disabled Student). Due to inclusion being about the increase ofparticipation of learners within mainstream schools, whilst also focusing on thechanges needed within schools with regards to their practices, ethos,structures and removing the structural, attitudinal and environmental barriersplaced on a learners participation, inclusion was seen as a favourablealternative. However, researchers began to question areas of inclusion, inparticular, who was inclusion meant to include and including them into what. Meanwhile,union representatives and their teachers were instead asking ‘why should theybe included and to what cost’.
On the other hand, children don’t understand whyinclusion is so difficult to attain. Allen (2010) observed throughout herresearch that the majority of learners that she encountered found the notion ofinclusion to be simplistic and an obvious right, this confused the learners assomething they found so blatantly obvious the adults have a hard time with theexperience. In a study looking at the rights of children, a sample of learnerslooked at their school and what it needed to do to become more inclusive. Thelearners immediately comprehended this to mean both removing barriers withintheir school and the increase of participation (Allan et al.
2006). Theselearners recognised the barriers almost imminently, finding issues with theschool structures, attitudes and environment. The learners, figuring this outso easily, questioned why adults found it difficult to avoid exhibitingattitudes and behaviours that so evidently hindered participation. Research sawteachers explaining and discussing their greatest barriers to participation andinclusion in education; this was something that both disabled and non-disabledlearners found to be upsetting (Allan 1999).
At a diversity seminar forlearners, again teacher criticism was at the forefront with learners criticisingteachers for their ‘overprotection’ of the students with disabilities, statingthat teachers got in the way of their social interactions (Allan and Smyth2009). Lewis (1995) and Davis et al. (2008), in researching children and youngpeople, discovered that the needs of disabled young people were far fromunderstood by adults. There appeared to be a wide misconception thatcommunicating with these disabled children would be challenging and ‘uninformative’. Studies have found that teachers aresuggesting that, within the current environment, inclusion could be animpossibility (Thomas & Vaughan, 2004) due to teachers not having theconfidence to obtain inclusion with the current resources available (Hanko,2005). Macbeath et al., (2006) found that amongst teachers there was a positiverelation towards inclusion, with them recognising the inherent benefits alllearners would receive however, concerns were expressed with regards to whethermainstream schools could provide the right education needed for learners withcomplex needs.
Taking all of this into account Takala et al., (2012) concludedthat in order to obtain the goal of inclusive education, new knowledge andskills are needed for the entirety of staff within a school to ensure thatinclusion works. Staff development and training is seen as essential to ensurethat all staff are competent and feel adequately confident in their skills toactively teach inclusively (Pjil and Frissen 2009).It has been stated that whenapplying to different contexts, the continuing process of inclusion can bedescribed as problematic and complex (Booth, 1996). What Booth means by this isthat just because inclusion works a certain way in one school, doesn’t mean thatit would work the same way, or even be appropriate/beneficial in another. Thereare a lot of different routes and different ways in which a school can obtaininclusive education. Ainscow (2005) states that the journey of a practitioner’sdesire for inclusion can be seen as a perpetual exploration to find the bestways of responding to diversity.
Although teachers are said to be alwayssearching for better ways to instil inclusive practice into their classrooms,learners themselves have been seen to exclude individuals on occasions. Frostadand Flem (2008) found that learners with ASN are regularly not as popular, arenot always socially included, contribute substantially less when in a subgroupand had fewer interactions/ relationships. The exclusion from social circles moreoften than not was a result of less similarities with their peers and althoughthis issue can arise without malicious intent, it is an area that needs to besolved to further enhance inclusion in education.
Florian & Linklater(2010) believe that there is a capacity for all learners to change and further acknowledgeand work on the need for inclusion, but this will require movement in the valuesystem of the learners and to insure sustainability of this movement inclusion proceduresand policy at a school based level will have to support this (Ainscow & Sandill,2010).