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Putting Disability back into SEND.

Posted on March 15, 2017

Putting Disability back into SEND.
Richard Rieser, World of Inclusion www.worldofinclusion.com
As an ex-teacher, SEND specialist, a disabled person, a SENDIST panel member and campaigner and trainer for inclusive education I am increasingly concerned about the Children and Family Act reforms.

The Statutory Inclusion guidance was dropped in September 2014 and has not been replaced. The Government is increasing the provision for special schools and not encouraging good inclusive practice in mainstream schools. This is despite the Government being a signatory of the UN Convention on the Right of Persons with Disabilities and in particular Article 24 on Education which has recently been clarified as a right to Inclusive Education by the CRPD Committee in General Comment No 4.(Sept 2016) and the Government signing up to the Sustainable Development Goals –No.4 specifically being the development of an inclusive, quality education system for all. (www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/CRPD/GC/…/CRPD-C-GC-4.doc).
Article 24: A Right to Inclusive Education guarantees all Disabled learners a right to participate in all forms of mainstream education with appropriate support. When the UK Government ratified the UNCRPD in June 2009 it decided to place a number of restrictions on its UNCRPD obligations which subsequent Governments have upheld.
The Government, when it adopted the UNCRPD and on Article 24, made a declaration and reservation. The first is an Interpretative Declaration which clarifies the UK Government commitment to developing inclusive education and defines the general education system and unlike all other signatory nations maintains special schools. The Interpretative Declaration text states that:

Interpretative Declaration:
“Education – Convention Article 24 Clause 2 (a) and (b)
The United Kingdom Government is committed to continuing to develop an inclusive system where parents of disabled children have increasing access to mainstream schools and staff, which have the capacity to meet the needs of disabled children. The General Education System in the United Kingdom includes mainstream and special schools, which the UK Government understands is allowed under the Convention.”
We notice very little emphasis in the SEND Code of Practice or in Government initiatives to develop this increasing capacity. In reality with a large increase in numbers of parent seeking special schools in recent years would suggest a reduction in capacity to meet the needs of disabled children. The population of maintained special schools has gone from 87,010 in 2007 to 105,365 in 2016. Add to this the number of children with a statement or plan in independent schools which over the same period has risen from 7,760 to 13,500 and this is a definite trend away from mainstream in terms of placement.

The UK Government also placed a Reservation against Article 24 which states that:Reservation:
“Education – Convention Article 24 Clause 2 (a) and 2 (b)
The United Kingdom reserves the right for disabled children to be educated outside their local community where more appropriate education provision is available elsewhere. Nevertheless, parents of disabled children have the same opportunity as other parents to state a preference for the school at which they wish their child to be educated”. This reservation has among other things allowed the increase by Local Authorities of sending teenagers and young adults with SEND away to institutions many miles from their homes which the Lenehan inquiry is currently examining.

Adverse Impact of other education reforms
The main problem is that the SEND reforms are not a leading part of the Government’s education changes. The push for more selection with grammar schools, setting up more free schools especially special schools, the reduction in real funding and reorganisation of funding to one national formula, the introduction of a new knowledge based narrower curriculum and more testing of our children, the abolition of national curriculum levels and the loss of parental control through the replacement of governors with proprietors of academy chains all militate against the inclusion of children and young people and those with special educational needs.
What disabled children and young people need
As a disabled person who was a disabled child in the school system I know the key issues are feeling safe and not being bullied and having your individual needs addressed in a way that takes one’s learning forward with confidence and support . Not making you feel that your learning difficulties are your fault or that your physical difference is that something that diminishes your self esteem.

As the vast majority 90.6 percent of school pupils and students with SEN are in mainstream schools ( 121,525 with statements or EHC Plans and 991,980 on school support) then it is interesting how little emphasis there is in the SEND Code of practice on meeting their needs. An emphasis in the reforms on SEN –Assess, Plan, Do, Review- hardly compensates for all the Government measures listed above that detract from inclusion. (DFE SEN Statistics July 2016 gathered January 2016)
The SEND Code of Practice limits itself to Chapter 1 to talk about disability. But the vast majority of children with special educational needs also tick the definition under the 2010 Equality Act of disability. This definition is not a high threshold and was drawn up in this way to protect from discrimination.
Equality Act and disability

To have rights under the disability part of the Equality Act a child or young person needs to have a physical or mental impairment (loss of function) that has a substantial (more than minor or trivial) long term(12 months or more or likely to last 12 months or more) impact on their ability to carry out day to day activities. To be recognised by the school the school as disabled the child does not need a medical diagnosis. The school can be told by the parents or surmise this for themselves. Thus if the school has placed a child/young person on School Support it is very likely that the definition will apply to them. It is also likely to apply to young people with medical needs and mental health issues who are not on SEN support.
As soon as the school is informed they have a duty to make individual reasonable adjustments including providing auxiliary aids and support for those who count as disabled. However, the duty to make reasonable adjustments is and anticipatory duty. This means that before knowing about an individual they have to adjust their policies, provision, criteria and practices to not put disabled people at a substantial disadvantage and take steps to meet the likely needs of disabled learners. Governing bodies or the proprietor are under this duty. Policies, criteria, provision and practices for e.g. admission, exclusions, sports activities, school activities and trips, lunch time and after school activities and access to learning, should have been regularly reviewed and adjusted to not place disabled people at substantial detriment and ensure they take account of the need to make reasonable adjustments.
The school is also under a duty to not discriminate directly, indirectly or on the basis of issues arising from disability and to eliminate bullying and harassment. Disabled children and young people experience the highest level of bullying and harassment in our schools. The Anti Bullying Alliance has been focusing on this for the last two years and the next two years with Government money, but unless staff and students take ownership of zero bullying not much will change.

A key part of this change and making schools habitable for disabled children and students requires all schools to engage in developing an understanding of the social oppression that is disability. It is not the medical model/ deficit approach, but rather understanding that the systematic devaluing and negative attitudes to those who are physically and mentally different is the result of culturally rooted prejudice and discrimination that must be understood and challenged. http://www.anti-bullyingalliance.org.uk/resources/disablist-bullying/disablism-in-class/
UK Disability History Month provides an opportunity each year to focus on this change. It runs from the middle of November to the middle of December. This coming year’s focus is Disability and Visual Arts. Get your child’s school to participate. www.ukdhm.org . There is a wealth of material on the website for teachers to use.

What should Parents do to ensure their disabled children are getting their rights.
Many acts of discrimination occur inadvertently. But if they continue once you have pointed out your child is disabled and does not feel treated fairly and the school does not acknowledge and /or does not make reasonable adjustments. Continue to ask questions. Keep a written record. Complain to head if not satisfied. Always take someone with you as a witness and note taker. Complain to the Governing body or proprietor. If you do not get a change or the act of discrimination put your child at a substantial disadvantage contact SENDIST. If you are battling to get the right school support this could be part of your disability discrimination claim. Usually the threat of the Tribunal will get an apology from the school, but sometimes they will fight to the end. If you think you have a strong case don’t be put off. Make sure you have as much as possible fully documented. However you have time after you have filed a case to ask the school for other documentation.

Most of all Heads and school staff need disability equality training and students need to be exposed to the social model of disability and become allies of their disabled peers struggle for equality.

How ten years of the CRPD have been a victory for disability rights

Posted on December 13, 2016

How ten years of the CRPD have been a victory for disability rights
By IDA – December 8, 2016
CRPD Committee members and High Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein
Ten years ago the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) was adopted. It was the first internationally legally binding instrument to specifically address the rights of persons with disabilities at a global level. It was achieved with the active participation of the disability rights movement. This set a new standard for civil society involvement in UN negotiations. Diane Richler, former Chair of the International Disability Alliance (IDA), and Past-President of Inclusion International, remembers this as “not just a victory for disability rights, it marked a high point in solidarity and collaboration within the whole disability community”.
Originally published at the Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/58473671e4b0cc9e7cf5dbdd?timestamp=1…
“Deaf persons were advocating for the rights of persons with psychosocial disabilities, persons with psychosocial disabilities were advocating for accessible technology for Blind persons, men and women with disabilities were fighting together for gender equity – it gave a sense that collaborative advocacy across countries, contexts and communities is possible” recalled Lisa Adams, who today works with the Disability Rights Fund.
The process of negotiating this convention was far faster than other human rights treaties. Stefan Tromel, former Executive Director of IDA, now a Senior Disability Specialist with the International Labour Organization, who also represented the disability rights movement during the negotiations, credits this to the “insistence of organizations of persons with disabilities to immediately start on implementation after it was adopted”.
After ten years building on the galvanizing impact of the agenda, there is much for us all to celebrate about the achievements of the community, which were forged from this process. However – as always – there is still more to be done.
Since its adoption, the CRPD has raised awareness about disability as both a matter of human rights and of development. It also marks a paradigm shift, where persons with disabilities were no longer viewed as objects of charity but as active members of societies, in charge of their own lives, with free and informed consent and with the same rights to participation, engagement and inclusion, as everyone.
This is why, as negotiations began around the new global sustainable development framework to follow the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the CRPD was used as a foundation by many disability organisations, including the International Disability Alliance (IDA) and the International Disability and Development Consortium (IDDC), to lobby for the inclusion of persons with disabilities in international development policy. The movement came together to ensure that when “leave no one behind” was adopted by the UN as an overall mantra for the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – that this included persons with disabilities in a meaningful and measurable way. It marked a huge step forwards from the MDGs, where the evidence shows that people with disabilities were systematically excluded.
Today, by overlaying the CRPD with the SDGs, countries have clearer paths towards including the rights of persons with disabilities throughout implementing their national development programmes.
The challenge is that both the SDGs and the CRPD are hugely ambitious agendas. They bring together progressive perspectives on development, environment, humanitarian response and climate, and rely on a world open to multilateral cooperation, one where nations are outward looking and are supportive of global responses to global problems. Not a world which looks inwards and seeks narrow self-interested relationships, which has in the past fuelled an arms race, not the human race. The resourcing and political commitment to the CRPD and the SDGs have to be forthcoming for the rights of persons with disabilities to be continuously realized to herald a new era of ‘leaving no one behind’.
Despite huge leaps forward in the inclusion of persons with disabilities in the last ten years, there often remains an assumption that persons with disabilities will automatically participate in development programs. It is increasingly recognized that persons with disabilities do not benefit from global development unless their participation is proactively planned for and resourced from the start. Removing the barriers to participation and unlocking the vast potential of persons with disabilities is critical to addressing global poverty reduction, and empowering people to access their rights and actively participate in all aspects of society.
To date 170 States, and the European Union, have ratified the Convention. Progress is accelerating, with the Antigua and Barbuda, Sri Lanka, Brunei Darussalam, Finland, Comoros, the Netherlands, Iceland, and the Central African Republic ratifying in 2016, as well as Belarus and Somoa ratifying in just the last week.
Today IDA and IDDC, the two largest global networks of disability rights organisations, are calling on every remaining UN Member State to ratify or accede to the CRPD, in respect of the ten-year anniversary of this critical convention and in recognition of the one billion persons with disabilities, worldwide, who are often marginalised, excluded or prevented from contributing to the development of their households, communities and countries.
The CRPD is an opportunity to accept and implement a global norm – the rights of people with disabilities – which, as it is realized, advances social, economic and developmental rights for everyone in all societies. A norm which Mr. Tromel believes could deliver a “huge shift from the view of persons with disabilities as passive recipients of benefits, to progressive social protections”. If governments seize this opportunity they will harness the talents and potential of this whole generation to fully contribute to their communities. This transformation is realistic but it does require strong national commitments to multilateral solutions and rights-based approaches to development.
We believe this is a real possibility in this new era – where a convention, ratified by a huge number of countries, is aligned with an inclusive global development framework that will take us through to 2030. Never before has there been such momentum within the disability community. Failure to take advantage of this critical opportunity would not be forgiven by the generations to come.
If we want global change that truly benefits everyone, the international community must act now to make disability-inclusive development a reality. This is the world we demand.
– Vladimir Cuk, Executive Director of the International Disability Alliance, and Dominic Haslam, International Disability and Development Consortium.

3RD DECEMBER MARKS 10 YEARS OF PROGRESS TOWARDS INCLUSIVE EDUCATION FOR DISABLED CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE AROUND THE WORLD

Posted on December 2, 2016

LETS MAKE THE NEXT 10 YEARS REALLY COUNT TO DEVELOP INCLUSIVE EDUCATION

1in3_children

Passed on from UNICEF GLOBAL PARTNERSHIP FOR CHILDREN WITH DISABILITIES

This year, International Day of Persons with Disabilities (3rd December) assumes an even greater significance as it coincides with the 10th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) – CRPD@10. At UNICEF, we are celebrating CRPD@10 for children through highlighting our contribution to the development, ratification and implementation of the CRPD both globally and at the country level and we encourage GPcwd partners to do the same.

Looking back on these ten years, it is clear that the work around the Convention has inspired a global movement to promote the rights of people with disabilities, including children. In the almost 170 countries which have ratified the CRPD, laws and policies have been changed to better protect them, to offer improved access to services and to make their participation in the society possible.

There are many ways to celebrate this milestone, including by drawing attention to children with disabilities through social media. Therefore we encourage you to use existing materials that GPcwd helped to prepared. We are also sharing some UNICEF resources that we will be using. Please feel free to use these materials, as well as re-tweet and share from the UNICEF social media accounts. Please find attached:

  • Social media assets on Inclusive Education LINK
  • Social Media assets on #EndViolence LINK
  • Sample tweets prepared by UNICEF for December 2 (below)

    Hashtags
    Primary: #thisability and #CRPDnow

    Suggested Tweets
    Given the chance, children with disabilities play, learn, dream and achieve. #thisability

    When children – no matter their abilities – learn and play together, barriers crumble. #thisability

    Children with disabilities have the right to be a part of not apart from their families, communities and the world. #thisability #CRPDnow

    All children have the right to be defined by what they can do, not what they cannot do. #thisability

    Without accurate data, children with disabilities run the risk of not being counted and not counting. #thisability #CRPDnow

    Neglect and physical and sexual abuse are 3 to 4 times more likely for children with disabilities. #CRPDNow #thisability

    All children have the same rights – no matter what. #thisability #CRPDNow

  • Set of 10 cards celebrating UNICEF’s progress in light of CRPD@10. See LINK

    We would also be glad to know how you are celebrating these key events in your organization. Please share any updates from your event with Anna Burlyaeva aburlyaeva@unicef.org by 10th December and they will be added into the next December GPcwd Newsletter.

Richard Rieser speaking at UNICEF/ IDA side meeting on Inclusive Education at Social Forum in Geneva on 5th October 2016.

Posted on October 10, 2016

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“ I’m very pleased this General Comment No 4 has been published because when we were negotiating the Convention there were three major votes on Article 24 and there were many attempts to subvert it and I notice that those attempts still came in the General Comment, but the CRPD committee won out and it stuck to human rights principles, so that they are to be applauded. Now our job is to implement it, but the Comment will help us in the implementation.

From my experience as a disabled person and a teacher I could tell my life story but three little glimpses will suffice. When I was five I was not allowed to go to the ordinary school. I was a fire risk. I had polio when I was a kid. I could climb trees and ride a bike, but I wasn’t allowed in school. I had to be sent somewhere separate. When I wanted to go to secondary school there was a lift, but I wasn’t allowed to use the lift only the teachers used the lift. There was no accommodation there. This is before we had any legislation. When I became a teacher myself I had to go through a demeaning medical to see whether I was fit to teach. I asked the doctor what’s the strength and shape of my legs have to do with teaching. He couldn’t comment but that law is still in place in England. There is discrimination to disabled people who want to teach all around the world.

To me the barriers are the key thing and the barriers should be addressed in advance, it should be anticipating adjustment duty and is an anticipatory duty all schools all colleges all education establishments need to be thinking about this before a student with disabilities arrives. Not after.

It is something that should be built into the practice, design, and organization of all education. Of course that isn’t happening and governments hide behind the fears of parents about inclusion. Quite often I see this happening with opposition to inclusion by creating fear amongst parents. This is one the major things that is used by governments to actually stop inclusion moving forward and those who get paid a lot in Europe- those who head up special schools get paid more than other teachers. They don’t want to lose that position they create fears amongst parents. There is very little good practice of inclusion ever shown to parents, before they make the choice.

I prefer to point to the Government in Britain a few years ago. We made reasonable adjustments films in 40 schools for them, which was sent to every school in the country. It was clear that all schools could make reasonable accommodations, most were not bothering, 20 percent were doing well, 20 percent did not bother at all even though it was already the law. Having laws is not enough. You have to create a culture of change and that’s why we built an Alliance of parents, teachers, disabled people, young people, young disabled people and other professionals- teachers, education psychologists to fight for inclusion. That is a model that needs to be used in every country to bring together all those forces who want to fight for inclusion. To actually force governments to change, because they’re not going to change, there are too many vested interests wanting to keep things as they are.

side-meeting-inclusive-education

One of the biggest places of vested interests are the universities, which are full of people who have learned to do special education. When we drafted the Convention we didn’t mention special education needs. You can look at the General Comment and there’s no mention of special education need. But in the Country Reports that come to the CRPD Committee over and over and over again governments say the special education people are meeting the needs of children with disabilities. Special education does not understand inclusion and promotes integration or segregation.. We have to understand the paradigm shift is away from the medical model to human rights model and that means in education moving away from exclusion, segregation, integration to inclusion.

Just placing children in a mainstream school some will survive as our colleague from Africa said, but many will have not survived through the process she went through. It isn’t good enough to just leave children to survive. We have to address the barriers, we have to get much better at sharing how we address those barriers around the world. The last thing I wanted to say is about some work I’ve done for Unicef on teachers around the world in preparing them for children with disabilities .

I find that the goals that we put forward on the sustainable development goals don’t address teachers sufficiently. You can’t have inclusion without teachers and if you don’t address teachers and their training and have mandatory training for teachers we will still be here in 30 years’ time talking about inclusion.

Education International which represents 40 million teachers is supporting inclusion, many local branches don’t because they feel under pressure, but it’s about advocacy. In my own union the National Union of Teachers in England it took me eight years to win a position of inclusion and in the next 16 years since then it’s come under attack, practically at every Conference, but we still maintain that position as the largest teaching union in Europe. So it can be done, but you have to have advocates to fight for it.

Teachers need training, all teachers need training in understanding inclusion in the widest aspects of it, but they also need a twin track approach. They must have training on the reasonable accommodations and support that people with different impairments need. This is not for specialist. This should be for every teacher. Then we also need local resource centres in every district throughout the world which will provide the extra specialists support and technology for inclusion.

People have talked about technology and say well we don’t need technology, the technology we’ve got is very important. 80 percent of people in Africa now access a mobile phone. Through a mobile phone we can actually access materials for the whole curriculum and that’s particularly important to deaf people and blind people. So we can actually get this across. These don’t need to be run where there’s electricity. They can be charged up at a central place.

When I was going around the school in South Africa saw a boy sitting in front of a class and the class was about large numbers, how many, what was the size of number to get to the sun, the moon and so on. The class had to work out was it larger or smaller. I saw this boy sitting out. I asked the teacher why have you not included him. Well he has cerebral palsy was the reply. This was a school where Norway had spent three years supporting the development of inclusion. That lasted only when they were doing it. We have to build resilience so it lasts after interventions, all you have to do is draw a grid squares on paper, he can point at it smaller larger so on. He could join in as well whether he can write or not, It’s the concept in his brain that needs to be developed. This lack of being able to look out of the box is what we have to develop in all teacher. They have to become creative not part of a machine that is linked unfortunately, and this is the bigger threat to inclusive education, around the world to big business moving into education and judging education by results on a normative basis.

In the PISA tests which are being used increasingly which in which school students are compared. But PISA leaves out four percent of children. Those who are disabled so we’re not comparing like with like. So I will leave it there. There’s much more I could say. Thank you “.

Answer to questions
“There are a lot of questions there. There were a whole lot around special segregated education. I think we need to remember where it came from, it came from Europe and North America. The idea that particularly children with learning difficulties had to be kept separate from the rest of the population in institutions because they would reduce the gene pool and lead to weakening of the gene pool and this was a eugenics measure. Eugenics held sway in all of the main universities right up until the 1960s. And it was only in the 50’s that it began to shift with some forward work from psychologists showing that actually everybody could learn.

Until that time people still held the view across the world that there was a fixed level of intelligence and you couldn’t change it. So that was a real mistake and it led to us inheriting a whole lot of institutions and universities departments that teach special Ed. There’s no justification for that. You need to approach each university as an advocate, saying we want a course of inclusive education for our teachers particularly in eastern Europe and Russia. They have a further refinement Defectology, which came from a Stalinist view of education where they had to actually force children to meet the barriers in the environment and deal with the barriers themselves, rather than removing the barriers, it is a ridiculous idea and it has to be challenged wherever it takes place.

We can show where there are special schools and mainstream schools together with equal samples of children, in every case the disabled children do better in the mainstream schools than they do in the special schools. In addition to this where there are residential special schools there are major issues of child protection and abuse, and there are hundreds and hundreds of cases around the world of children being abused because of the power relationship of adults to children. So it’s not a good idea for parents to think this is a good place to send their children. We have to argue with parents to say no this is not the right place and maybe mainstream isn’t right but we have to work together to make them the right place.

We have to fight together do that, now the one thing about young children is they will take their lead from adults. If they’re clear about bullying and where it comes from the strange ideas, as I just mentioned in the past, they will say this isn’t fair and be the ones to challenge the bullying and name calling. These techniques can be used anywhere around the world so the proof the pudding is that you can actually do.

The last thing I wanted to mention was the role of government. I was recently in Kenya. We were working with South Sudan developing their plans for education for all. We convinced the Ministry of Education that there should be no more special schools. After the war there should be resource bases. It was a hard battle because the people in the Ministry had all been educated in Special Ed in Kenya. The people we were taken to visit were in establishments that had thespecial ed approach. This was despite Kenya signing and ratifying the convention in 2008. The education professionals said that doesn’t mean anything we’re still doing special Ed. There were 20,000 kids in special schools in Kenya, 85,000 with identified impairments in mainstream schools. Yet if you were a teacher in special schools you were entitled after three years to 1 years paid secondment. Teachers in mainstream had to pay out of their own holiday time for training. This is what happens when vested interests take control you have to blow vested interests out of the water to make inclusion happen”.

Supplementary answer on dual system for deaf people.
“I understand what Terry was saying, but is it not true that the World Federation of the Deaf have supported the General Comment and inclusion? This does argue for sign language education. It doesn’t make a brief for separate deaf schools, it doesn’t argue for that and I think that should have been sorted out inside the World Federation of the Deaf before this document was drawn. Because I know there are different views, but the world view is reflected in this document.

To answer two of your points, I can take you to schools in England like Lister Secondary where there are teachers of the deaf, deaf teachers teaching sign language in a mainstream school, but what is important is ‘that the child is not on their own’. That there are four deaf children in each class and that they are part of the class and that they’re taught bilingually and that has shown to be as effective in many ways as the old deaf schools.

Putting a child on their own, who is a sign language user, is not acceptable, that is not inclusion, it is integration, and we need to be very clear about that, and we need to argue for mobilization of sign language interpreters, deaf people teacher sign in the mainstream schools, but we have to have a constant number of deaf children for it to work. I would argue and we really can’t go to the whole world, where there are many, many more deaf children than in Europe and say you need separate schools. It is not possible to do that and we will be in 50 years’ time still talking about this. We have to create sign language in all of our schools”

See resources at www.worldofinclusion.com

Disabled People much better off in Europe! Vote to stay in Europe in the Referendum

Posted on June 18, 2016

Please circulate

http://worldofinclusion.com/disabled-people-much-better-off-in-europe-vote-yes-in-referendum/

Disabled People should vote to Stay In Europe
As UK Disability Movement Rep on the European Disability Forum from 2004 to 2012 I fully endorse the position taken by Debbie Jolly, Richard Howitt MEP and Lady Jane Campbell. Disabled people in the UK are much better off in the EU and we should be playing a more active part in mobilising the 10 million disabled voters to vote to stay.

http://dpac.uk.net/2016/03/why-we-should-say-yes-to-the-eu/

http://www.richardhowittmep.com/index.php/18-02-2016-vote-to-remain-in-the-eu-for-the-europe-we-want-it-to-be-jeremy-corbyn-tells-richard-and-his-fellow-euro-mps-in-brussels

http://dpac.uk.net/2016/06/disabled-people-stronger-and-safer-inside-the-eu/

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/jun/07/go-it-alone-britain-turn-clock-back-for-disabled-people

On 15th June six Tory and Labour former Minsters for Disability published a letter in the Guardian arguing why disabled people are better off in Europe. http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/jun/15/disabled-peoples-rights-will-be-better-protected-if-we-remain-in-the-eu
Let us learn the lessons of the history we have lived through. There is no doubt that we have gained a great deal in legislation on employment, transport, training, accessibility and Social Funds for training. The EU is enthusiastic about taking disabled people’s rights forward as a signatory of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. In the UK successive governments—Labour, Coalition and Tory—have been doing the least possible to improve our position and indeed making it worse. Having EU legislation and directives as a fall back is in this situation is most important in safeguarding our rights. Because of the EU legislation:
• Our buses, trains, stations, ferries, airports and air flights are accessible;
• We have equal rights in employment and all employers have to make reasonable adjustments(various UK Government wanted to limit this to those who employ over 20;
• The Blue Badge parking and access requirements operate throughout the EU;
• Our Human Rights are supported and enhanced with institutions and hate crime opposed.
Gove, Johnson and IDS are all neo-conservative free marketeers who which to be rid of ‘red tape’ such as health and safety legislation and employment rights in a race to the bottom for ordinary people while they and their cronies get richer. Staying in Europe and building united opposition to this conception is the best thing for disabled people and working people.
We should not be seduced by xenophobic or racist ideas against immigration. We, ourselves, have and are subject to such prejudice and hate crime and should to know better.
Equally while those on the left arguing for exit claim the EU as a capitalist club- So the UK isn’t!!!
We must stay in Europe and fashion an alternative. The cross European Movement against austerity needs to campaign for a minimum standard of living for all citizens. The Disability Movement in all its fragments could start by unifying and turning outwards into Europe to work with the representatives of 80 million disabled people across Europe. The EU have ratified the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Disabled Persons ( without reservation, unlike the UK who put up 4 reservations) and has an active plan for its implementation including new legislation on Accessibility which will improve life in all areas for disabled people from access to the internet and websites to transport, services and all products.
Richard Rieser, World of Inclusion and Coordinator UK Disability History Month rlrieser@gmail.com

World of Inclusion comments on UNCRPD Committee Draft General Comment on Article 24 Inclusive Education

Posted on January 10, 2016

Response to the Draft General Comment on Article 24 by the CRPD Committee from World of Inclusion Ltd
World of Inclusion is a training, resource producing and consultancy organisation that specialises in the implementation of inclusive education in the UK and many countries around the world. It is run by people with disabilities and is a DPO. International work includes Argentina, Botswana, Bhutan, Canada, Dubai, France, Germany, India, Italy, Kenya, Morocco, Mozambique, Papua New Guinea, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, South Africa, South Korea, South Sudan, Swaziland, Uganda, Ukraine, Zambia and Zimbabwe (www.worldofinclusion.com)
World of Inclusion works from a principle of human rights and equality and strives to address intersectionality of differing equality strands. World of Inclusion works from the social model/human rights perspective and rejects a deficit/medical model approach. Therefore barriers to inclusive education are found in built environments, organisations, policies, practices and attitudes, though we recognise that people with disabilities need specific accommodations, supports and approaches to their impairment, within inclusive settings.
Having made a submission in writing and a verbal presentation to the Day of General Discussion on Article 24, World of Inclusion welcomes the Draft General Comment and the progressive direction they have taken. In particular we welcome :-
The ‘Right to Inclusive Education’ rather than just ’education’ in the title of the General Comment;
The clarity of the case for inclusive education based on a human rights approach and in particular the educational, social and economic case to be used when arguing with Governments; (Introduction p.1-7)
The definition of inclusive education; ( p.9)
The clear identification of barriers to inclusion; (p.9)
The defining of the right to inclusion as a ‘process that transforms culture, policy and practices in all educational environments’; (p.11)
The clear distinguishing between segregation, integration and inclusion; (p.11)
The recognition that placing students with disabilities in mainstream classrooms without appropriate support does not constitute inclusion; (p.11)
The prohibition of exclusion based on impairment or its degree; (p.18)
The recognition that denial of reasonable accommodation is discriminatory and immediately applicable; (p.137 p.40)
Support measures must be compliant with the goal of full inclusion; (p.33)
Education of all students must rest with the Education Ministry; (p.61)
The call for the transfer of resources from segregated to inclusive environments; (p. 63)
The recognition of the importance of families and representative organizations of people with disabilities; (p. 80)
The call for new assessment measures that will not disadvantage people with disabilities . (p.77)
However, World of Inclusion would respectfully like to put forward a number of amendments to the Draft General Comment (GC), based on our experience of working on developing inclusive education in many countries with different social, economic and cultural factors. Most of these amendments are offered to increase clarity and understanding. A few are new points World of Inclusion consider to be important but neglected. The GC will be a very important document to aid States, International Agencies, Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs), Disabled Persons’ Organisations ( DPOs), schools, colleges, school principals, teachers, administrators, families and young people with disabilities, to implement Article 24 and inclusive education.
Each amendment identified by paragraph number, has an explanation, is marked Amendment and the textual change is in red.
9. Definition of the right to inclusive education. The definition does not make it clear that inclusion should be available in local mainstream or regular schools, nor does it make clear that persons with disabilities should not be excluded by virtue of their impairment.
Amendment In 7th line, after ‘marginalized’, insert “ in local mainstream or regular schools and colleges from which persons with disabilities are not excluded by virtue of their impairment”.
In 11/12th lines, include in-depth transformation of the education system, ‘legislation, policy’ is listed. However, curriculum is not mentioned. In some countries, curriculum is subsumed in education policy. In others, the curriculum is seen as separate from policy.
Amendment in 12th line after ‘policy’, insert “and curriculum”.
10. This paragraph provides four ways to understand inclusive education. We are proposing a fifth, recognising it is also about geographic distribution of educational access, which is barrier free and providing for all students of relevant age range in the local area, with the necessary support.
Amendment add at end new point “e) An even geographic distribution of educational resources providing access to suitable, barrier free, environments for all students of relevant age range, in their local area, with the necessary support to thrive.”

12. This is a strong statement on the core features of inclusive education. In point b) Whole person approach- we think this would be clearer if reasonable accommodation was added here in line with 24.2.
Amendment In 6th line, after ‘identification’, insert “reasonable accommodations”.
Accessibility is a core element that should be added.
Amendment add a new point c) and re-letter, to read
“a) Accessible- environments, buildings, curricula, teaching methods, learning materials and ICT software and hardware should be made available as soon as possible”.

h) Recognition of partnerships. This sub paragraph does not mention partnership with peers. Work in many countries to develop peer support or child to child approaches has proved highly effective at breaking down attitudinal barriers, creating welcoming environments, challenging name calling and harassment and raising the self esteem of children with disabilities.
Amendment after first sentence ending in ‘disability’(4th line ) add
“Developing child to child or peer support, within and beyond school, to challenge harassment and develop self-esteem”.
New Paragraph. After 34. Insert new paragraph to cover the learning of life and social development skills. This is a vital part of developing effective inclusive education, especially for people with learning difficulties or psycho-social impairments but is useful for all people with disabilities. This is currently missing from the Draft General Comment.
Amendment After 34 insert new paragraph with subsequent renumbering.
“States Parties must commit to enabling persons with disabilities to learn life and social development skills to facilitate their full and equal participation in education and as members of the community. This is applies to all people with disabilities but particularly to students at all levels of the education system. It is particularly important for those with intellectual and psycho-social impairments, but all people with disabilities benefit from such a focus. The approach required is one of empowering persons with disabilities, within the human rights’ approach, to challenge disabling environments, attitudes and practices and equipping them with practical ways and solutions to minimise and eradicate such barriers. Such empowerment must include developing self esteem and an awareness of the history of the struggle for human rights of people with disabilities”.

35. Educating teachers for children with disabilities should be strengthened, to spell out a twin track approach and the need for disability equality/ disability awareness approaches delivered by people with disabilities, as to have the greatest impact on changing attitude. The third sentence needs qualifying to add clarity as in the proposed amendment.
Amendment In 9th line, after sentence ending in ‘abilities’ and before sentence starting ‘Provision’, insert
“There is considerable agreement that this should include a twin track approach to inclusion, examining the general parameters and practices of including all excluded groups. Secondly, a more detailed approach to the impairment specific needs, supports and accommodations necessary for students with the common range of impairments to be successfully included . An integral part of this training must be disability equality/disability awareness, which give all an appreciation of the paradigm shift from deficit/charity/medical model, to a social/human rights based approach, which lies at the heart of the Convention”.
36. It is important that increasing the number of teachers with disabilities has been stated. We consider this should also apply to many in-service teachers who develop an impairment during their career and are often forced out of teaching. Reasonable accommodations should be provided to retain their services. It is important to point out that to increase the number of pre-service teachers with disabilities, barriers need to be addressed in secondary and tertiary education, which would prevent them accessing teacher training. To cover these two points the following amendment is suggested.
Amendment In 4th line, after ‘teachers’ and before sentence beginning ‘Their’, insert
“These measures must also apply to retain in-service teachers who acquire impairments during the course of their careers. An important precursor of increasing the number of people with disabilities to be able to qualify as teachers is to remove barriers in secondary and tertiary education”.
39. World of Inclusion has major concerns about the inclusion of the underlined sentence below.
“Moreover, any deliberately retrogressive measures in that regard would require the most careful consideration and would need to be fully justified by reference to the totality of the rights provided for in the Convention and in the context of the full use of the maximum available resources”.
This can all too easily be treated as a ‘get out clause’. For example, this has occurred in the Republic of South Africa, where despite a national policy of inclusion, at the Province level there has been an increase in special school building. In Uganda, where despite a strong policy for inclusion, schools exclusively for blind and deaf students have recently been built, even though this will never meet need. The building of new segregated special schools and training in medical model based approaches rather that human rights based approaches to disability are two most common.
Amendment In 9th to 12th line, ‘deletion of the underlined part’. Or in 9th to 12th line, delete underlined wording and insert in their place ‘Deliberate retrogressive measures can never be justified in the context of the Convention and human rights framework.’
New Paragraph. Out of school children. At least 40% of out of school children have been shown to be children with disabilities. As the proportion attending school increases, the proportion of those outside school who are children with disabilities increases. Add to this the higher drop-out rate of children with disabilities, as they meet barriers in school and their communities to their successful continuation with their schooling and it can be seen why we are proposing the insertion of a New Paragraph after 40 as part of State Party Obligations.
Amendment After 40 insert New Paragraph and renumber
“State parties need to take urgent action to ensure the implementation of the many international treaty obligations which require all children to be entitled to education. Children with disabilities, particularly girls, are the largest group of out of school children . Many children with disabilities drop-out of school due to barriers in school and in their communities. State Parties must address this situation. State parties in their reporting and data collection need to identify the numbers and location of out of school children, the type of impairments they have and the measures they are taking to get them into school or re-enter education, in the most inclusive way possible”.

45. The use of the word vulnerabilities (6th line) places the focus back on the child as a subject and takes us to a charity/medical model approach, contrary to the human rights’ model approach upon which the UNCRPD is based.

Amendment In 7th line, delete “any particular vulnerability” and replace with “ any particular barriers”.

47. Article 8. Awareness Raising. It has been shown that involving people with disabilities in disability equality / disability awareness has proved highly effective in challenging negative attitudes and promoting a positive approach, especially in the education system.
Amendment At end of paragraph add “Involving adults with disabilities and their representative organisations, DPOs, has been demonstrated to be an effective strategy ”.
58. Article 32. International Cooperation. This does mention the SDGs and Agenda 30, but this paragraph would benefit by emphasising the particular wording of SDG 4 on inclusive education.
Amendment At end of paragraph add
“SDG 4 is of particular importance to ‘Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all’ and in particular target 4.5 and point 4a ”.
63. A comprehensive and co-ordinated legislative framework for inclusive education needs to be introduced, together with a clear time frame for implementation. World of Inclusion accepts all the points in this paragraph but we consider there needs to be more emphasis on ensuring people with disabilities and their representative organisations have a right to be involved in developing the inclusive education system. Adults with disabilities are grown up children with disabilitie and their experience has a vital part to play in developing inclusive education.
Amendment. In point k), 3rd line, after “disabilities” add “and their representative organizations- disabled persons’ organizations (DPOs)”.
64. Support the need for an Education Sector Plan. This will be as strong as the data it is based upon. To the list recommended by the Committee should be added data on the numbers in special schools/segregated settings; the number of teachers trained and to what level; how many have received training on including children with disabilities and to what level.
Amendment In 7th line, after “school” add
“numbers in educational segregated settings, the number of teachers trained and to what level, how many have received training on including children with disabilities and to what level”.
66. Deinstitutionalisation is a vital part of creating more inclusive societies. This should apply to segregated schools as well as other institutions. From these closures, State Parties should be required to ring fence any savings to be put into community services.
Amendment In 7th line, after “residential institutions” insert “and segregated schools”
Add new sentence at end of paragraph “ State Parties should ensure that any savings made from the closure of institutions are put back into community services and ring –fenced, over a sufficient time period to be effective”.
67. Early Childhood interventions are a vital part of developing the capacity of children with disabilities to be successfully included and creating positive attitudes among their families and community. The World Health Organisation support for inclusive Community Based Rehabilitation should be referenced.
Amendment In 6th line, after “children with disabilities.” add
“This should be approached from an inclusive orientation, as has been pioneered in many countries by Community Based Rehabilitation ”.

Amendment In 9th line, after “NGO “ insert “/DPO”

72. The training of teachers must include principals, all in-service teaching and support staff and be on-going, as inclusion is a continuing process.
Amendment At end of paragraph add a new sentence
“Such measures must include principals, all in-service teaching and support staff, be provided on a whole school basis and be ongoing, as inclusion is a continuing process”.
73. There are different models for implementing inclusive education. The four options put forward do not include one where schools across a district collaborate with one another, for example, through school and district support groups and/or share a resource centre for training, IT, teaching and learning accommodations, as in South Africa.
Amendment Add a new a) and re-letter subsequent sub-paragraphs
“ a) A district approach, in which there are district level inclusion coordinators, who train and support principals and an inclusion lead teacher from every school, followed by setting up a school- based support group of interested parents, teachers, DPOs and community representatives, who identify out of school children and children with disabilities and the barriers they face. Each school- based support group regularly sends a representative to the district support group. A district resource centre is established to provide support, training, teaching and learning resources, collecting data and monitoring effectiveness and developing interventions”.
75. This is an important paragraph giving a clear steer to the type of pedagogical changes necessary to make inclusion work. However, it needs clarifying by adding type and degree of impairment. The words ‘unique’ and ‘abilities’ are patronising and inaccurate.
Amendment In 10th line, after ‘‘learning style’’ insert “impairments”
Amendment In 12th line, delete “their unique abilities” and replace with “their diverse types and degree of impairment”.
Richard Rieser , World of Inclusion Tel 0044(0)7715420727 or e-mail rlrieser@gmail.com 04.012016

i UNICEF 2013 Preparing Teachers for Children with Disabilities (http://worldofinclusion.com/unicef-project-educating-teachers-for-children-with-disabilities/) and IDDC Teachers for All : Inclusive Teaching for Children with Disabilities http://iddcconsortium.net/sites/default/files/resources-tools/files/iddc_paper-teachers_for_all-print_version.pdf
ii Include Us(2013) Plan International. https://plan-international.org/include-us#download-options Children with disabilities in 30 countries 10x less likely to be in school than children with disabilities
iii Commonwealth Secretariat (2012) “ Implementing Inclusive Education: Implementing Article 24 of the UNCRPD Author R.Rieser. Published London. http://worldofinclusion.com/v3/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Implementing-Inclusive-Education-promo-copy1.pdf
iv United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (2015) https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/
v WHO(2010) Community Based Rehabilitation Guidelines http://www.who.int/disabilities/cbr/guidelines/

#ENDviolence on children and adolescents with disabilities 3rd December 2015

Posted on December 2, 2015

Key messages

CwD- 3 to 4 times  (FINAL -SM) (3)

1. Children and adolescents with disabilities are 3 to 4 times more likely to experience physical and sexual violence and neglect than children without disabilities. To end violence against children by 2030, we need to count all children under SDG target 16.2, including those with disabilities.

2. Children and adolescents with disabilities are at significantly increased risk of experiencing sexual violence: up to 68% of girls and 30% of boys with intellectual or developmental disabilities will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday. To end sexual violence against children and adolescents with disabilities we need to:
a. Include children with disabilities in national child protection laws, systems and policies, in line with international and regional human rights law.
b. Invest in free, accessible and high-quality services that prevent and respond to sexual violence against children with disabilities.
c. Address stigma and discrimination that prevent children with disabilities who have experienced sexual violence, from accessing services and redress.
d. Ensure safe, anonymous and accountable reporting mechanisms for all children, including those with disabilities to report abuse.
CwD- Adolescents (FINAL -SM) (6)
3. Children with disabilities are up to 17 times more likely to live in an institution than their peers without disabilities. The risk of violence, neglect and abuse in institutions and orphanages is much higher than when living at home or in a community. End the institutionalisation of children by supporting families and providing inclusive community-level services particularly in health, education and social protection. Implement the UN Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children, including the development of standards and training for all caregivers.
CwD- Emergencies (FINAL -SM) (5)
4. For every child killed in conflict, three acquire a permanent injury or disability. In the aftermath of disasters, children with disabilities are more likely to become separated from their careers and are extremely vulnerable to violence, exploitation and sexual abuse. Child protection responses in emergencies need to be fully inclusive of children with disabilities to ensure that no child is left behind.

5. Despite being one of the most vulnerable groups, infants, children and adolescents with disabilities are often excluded and invisible from data collected on violence. Every study related to violence against children should include children with disabilities to make them visible and data should be disaggregated by disability, age and gender.
CwD- Data (FINAL -SM) (4)

6. Adolescents and young persons with disabilities face more barriers to the enjoyment of their sexual and reproductive rights than those without disabilities. They are subject to increased sexual violence and abuse, and they also have a significantly higher risk of forced sterilization and coercive family planning methods, or are wrongly assumed to be sexually inactive. On the other hand, they are less likely to receive appropriate sexual and reproductive health information and services. To prevent this, efforts should be directed at:
a. Raising awareness among families, caregivers and health personnel of the rights of adolescents and young persons with disabilities to a life free of sexual abuse.
b. Access to counselling and the emergency contraception when necessary.
c. Access to sexuality education.
d. Foster the participation of adolescents with disabilities in the design and implementation of strategies to increase the inclusion of young persons with disabilities in social protection programs.
CwD- Institutions (FINAL -SM) (2)
CwD- Sexual violence (FINAL -SM) (1)

Ens notes
1 Jones, L., Bellis, M.A., Wood, S., Hughes, K., McCoy, E., Eckley, L., Bates, G., Mikton, C., Shakespeare, T., Officer, A. (2012) Prevalence and risk of violence against children with disabilities: a systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies. The Lancet, Vol. 380, No. 9845.
2 OECD. Recommendations: Save the Children and Handicap International (2011). Out from the shadows. Sexual violence against children with disabilities. Available at: http://www.savethechildren.org.uk/sites/default/files/docs/out_of_the_shadows_5.pdf. Retrieved: 30 November 2015.
3 UNICEF (2012) Children under the age of three in formal care in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, p.45. Available at: http://www.unicef.org/ceecis/UNICEF_Report_Children_Under_3_FINAL.pdf. Retrieved: 30 November 2015.
4 Pearn, J. H. (2000). The cost of war: Child injury and death. In Z. A. Bhutta (Ed.), Contemporary Issues in Childhood Diarrhoea and Malnutrition 1st ed. (pp. 334-343) Pakistan: Oxford University Press
5 Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) (2003). Sexual and gender based violence against refugees, returnees and internally displaced persons: guidelines for prevention and response. Available at: http://www.unhcr.org/3f696bcc4.html. Retrieved: 30 November 2015. .
6 UNICEF (2005). Violence against Children with disabilities: UN Secretary General’s Report on Violence against Children. Thematic Group on Violence against Children with disabilities. Available at: http://www.unicef.org/videoaudio/PDFs/UNICEF_Violence_Against_Disabled_Children_Report_Distributed_Version.pdf. Retrieved: 30 November 2015.
7 UNFPA (2007) Emerging issues: sexual and reproductive health of persons with disabilities. New York: UNFPA
8 World Bank/Yale (2004) Global Survey on AIDS and Disability. Washington DC: World Bank. http://siteresources.worldbank.org/DISABILITY/Resources/Healthand-Wellness/HIVAIDS.pdf
9 Groce, N. (2005). HIV/AIDS and Individuals with Disability: Findings from the World Bank/Yale Global Survey. Health and Human Rights, 8(2), 215-224; Hanass-Hancock, J. (2009) Disability and HIV/AIDS – a systematic review of literature on Africa. Journal of the International AIDS Society. Nov 13;2(1).

England New Primary Curriculum Performance Descriptors Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 stack the cards against Inclusion

Posted on December 14, 2014

The DfE is currently consulting until 18th December consulting on performance descriptors for use in Key Stage 1 and 2. These are flawed with a gap between those achieving P8 and the new category of being below national standards. It also contains the idea that many thousands of pupils with SEN and disability will be labelled as Being Below National Standard or Working Towards National Standard.

This comes about because the new primary curriculum is focussing on particular skills in reading, writing and mathematics to the exclusion on nearly all else and the level of national standard 1 is roughly 2 years above the National Curriculum Level currently considered achieveable by the end of Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2. In 2016 these will form the new floor targets-below which OFSTED says a school is failing. One does not have to be a crystal ball gazer to realise this will force many more primary schools to be academies and create a reluctance to enroll them. Those with larger numbers of children with SEN will be particularly hard hit. The proposal ignore the equality implications and the need for reasonable adjustments and will take us back to the chaos that existed after the initial inroduction of the National Curriculum after 1988 which took 12 years to at least partially sort out. But now the stakes are much higher.

I urge as many of you to robustly respond to this consultation which is a broadside against the inclusion of disabled children and those with SEN.

I attach my response to the DfE

The consultation paper can be found at

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/368298/KS1-KS2_Performance_descriptors_consultation.pdf–

PerformanceDes., me
1. It is important to understand the context of how the needs of disabled children and those with SEN were met under the previous assessment systems. After the introduction of the National Curriculum in 1988 with its 8 levels, there was a period of years where those who could not meet the levels of the National Curriculum were just classified as W –Working Towards or were disapplied from the National Curriculum. After this various guidance was issued, but not until the 2000 Curriculum changes was there an expectation that all children should be on the National Curriculum. The P Scales were introduced for teachers to assess the level of pupils working below Level 1 of the National Curriculum but were not to be used as a normative assessment/league tables. Many teachers working with these found the step too large for children with learning difficulty and other systems such as Pivots were widely introduced. Levels 1 and 2 were also found to be too large to cover the range of abilities and level 1c,b and a and 2 c, b, a and subsequently breakdowns of higher levels were introduced.

2. The General Inclusion Guidelines were produced as statutory guidance for teachers to provide guidance for differentiating teaching and assessment tools had to be adapted under the 2001 SEN Disability Act and the 2005 Disability Amendment Act now both incorporated into the Equalities Act. The current proposed assessment performance descriptors appear normative and do not take account of learning difference or the need for reasonable adjustments to access them. The lessons of the chaos of the past introduction of performance descriptors have not been learned and are likely to occur all over again.

3. There does not appear to have been any consideration of the equalities impact of these proposed changes, particularly on disabled pupils requiring reasonable adjustments.

4. The major problem with the new Assessment criteria is that for the many pupils who will not reach National Standard they will be labelled Working Toward National Standard, Below National Standard, or being ‘Below, Below National Standard’ or ton P8 to P1.

5. WOI is concerned that there will be a gap between p 8 at the top of the P Scales and those working below national quote “15.There will be some pupils who are not assessed against the P-scales (because they are working above P8 or because they do not have special educational needs), but who have not yet achieved the contents of the ‘below national standard’ performance descriptor (in subjects with several descriptors). In such cases, pupils will be given a code (which will be determined) to ensure that their attainment is still captured.

6. These pejorative and discriminatory grading labels will not be likely to encourage self esteem, on the contrary as they will be used to set new floor targets for primary schools to achieve they will act as a great disincentive for primary schools to admit those children with impairments and Special Needs that are likely to put them in these assessment categories.

7. The last 20 years has demonstrated that many disabled pupils and those with SEN often progress at slower rates than their peers . The document says pupils should not move on to work on the next key stage even if they have mastery. It is silent about those who will need to be working below National Standard 1 when they progress to key stage 2, presumably they will still be working below National Standard 1, or is the intention to keep them back until they reach nation standard 1?

8. Many parts of the world use a grade system and hold children back until they reach the required grade. This has an adverse effect and leads to drop out and non-recruitment of disabled children. The DFE need to be very careful that in their keenness to raise standards that they do not create a hidden grade system that will have a massive negative impact on inclusion and the achievement of disabled children.

9. The value of the Level system was that they could work at their level in the class while their peers doing work on another level. The proposed assessment framework is geared to a normative level that is considerably higher than the previous levels –approximately 2 years. It is also much more restrictive than the previous Levels with a strong knowledge and skills base, which will also adversely impact on many disabled pupils and those with SEN.

10. WOI is most concerned about the lack of thought or practical details about how disabled children and those with special educational needs are meant to demonstrate what they can do under these performance descriptors. There is no evidence of any thought about differentiating these performance descriptors or of taking account of children who due to their impairment will need reasonable adjustments in how they are graded. For example take handwriting in written English. There will be a range of pupils who will never be able to develop their handwriting due to their impairment. They will however be able to express themselves through using a keyboard, speech to text or other switching systems.

11. There is little evidence from Primary Educationalists that the programmes of study or the assessment criteria will aid an education based on a child development model. (See the Cambridge Education Review and Robin Alexander’s work).It is worth noting that in the highest performing school systems in the world –Finland-children are only starting their formal education when under this assessment system children will already have been force fed this curriculum and testing for three years. There is a grave danger of turning many children off learning by imposing such a performance assessment system.

12. “The United Kingdom Government is committed to continuing to develop an inclusive system where parents of disabled children have increasing access to mainstream schools and staff, which have the capacity to meet the needs of disabled children”.[Interpretive Declaration Article 24 UNCRPD] This is the interpretative declaration of Article 24 and the Children and Families Act Part 3 has a presumption of inclusion. It is hard to see how either of these commitments can be maintained with this teacher assessment tool which does not allow for measured progress from P-scales to Below National Standard.

13. We propose replacing ‘Working Towards National Standard’, ‘Below National Standard’ and ‘Below, Below National Standard’ with a new scale of Emergent National Learner scale 1-6 which will bridge the areas in each curriculum area between p8 and National Standard 1. These could be pegged to the old levels 1c,b,a and 2c,b,a. These criteria are known to teachers and would plug the current gap. The content could be adjusted to fit the new curriculum programmes of study. This would also enable teacher assessment to cover all learners.

14. In January 20134 17.9% pupils in schools in England had special educational

needs (equating to 1,492,950 pupils). Current statistics (Sept 2014 Annual Report DfE) demonstrate the folly of proceeding in the way proposed. The attainment gap in phonics has increased in the last year The attainment gap was 44 percentage points with 32% of pupils with SEN meeting the required standard compared to 76% of pupils with no SEN. Pupils with SEN performed significantly worse than pupils

without SEN at the end of KS1 The gap is largest in writing (45 percentage points), and smallest in mathematics (31 percentage points). Compared to 2011/2012 the gap has narrowed in all subjects, most notably by 2 percentage points in

both reading and writing. At KS 2 the attainment gap between pupils with

SEN and those without in reading, writing and mathematics is 53 percentage points. These statistics are only based on those entered for the tests/assessments and many were not suggesting an even larger gap.

15. The current proposals ignore these realities and as it is generally acknowledged that the National Standard is two levels above the current levels the impact is going to be far greater and the attainment gap far larger. The system proposed is not fit for use in as school system where 18% of pupils have special needs and an unknown but likely but different but overlapping population count as disabled under the Equalities Act

16. WOI strongly urges that these draft performance assessment descriptors are withdrawn and reconceptualised in a way that can include all learners and to take account of the need for reasonable adjustments for disabled learners.

What’s Happening with Inclusive Education Around the World

Posted on September 18, 2014

148 countries including the European Union have ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with disabilities (UNCRPD) and 158 have adopted the Convention. In December2013 a Report-‘Thematic Study on the Rights of persons with disabilities to education’ from the UN Human Rights Council made clear inclusion and inclusive education is one of the key provisions of the UNCRPD. Article 24 commits State parties to developing an inclusive education system, where disability should not prevent people from successfully participating in the mainstream education system. But this study demonstrates that although there have been moves towards inclusion such as, by the provision of statutory rights to inclusion in Spain and Portugal (joining the long standing practice in Italy), there are still many barriers including lack of adequately trained teachers, accessible buildings, peer support and challenging bullying, with much more integration than inclusion. The observations of the CRPD Committee on the first 13 Country Reports also demonstrate a wide variation in practice, for example China is criticised for only integrating those with physical and mild visual impairments and for an expanding programme of special school building. Austria, which had developed moves to inclusion a decade ago is criticised for lacking continuing momentum in this process. All 13 countries are urged to do more and reminded that the duty of making reasonable accommodations in education for disabled people is not a progressively realised right, but must be implemented from the point of ratification. In March 2014 the Human Rights Council passed a resolution urging more to be done to implement the right to inclusive education . As these Reports point out implementing full inclusive education is a matter of political will and where that consensus has been built as in New Brunswick Province, Canada it can happen. In New Brunswick Policy No 322 on inclusive education states:
“6.2.2 . The following practices must not occur: 1) Segregated, self contained programs or classes for students with learning or behavioural challenges, either in school or in community based learning opportunities. 2) Alternative education programmes for students enrolled in kindergarten to grade eight.”

Send ALL Disabled Children to School????
Around the world we have much to campaign for in terms of developing inclusive education for all disabled learners. The Global Campaign for Education in the UK is focusing on getting the 40% of out-of- school children who are disabled, into school. That is 24million out of 57 million children still out of school. Send All My Friends to School (www.sendmyfriend.org) has a free pack for schools, to work with pupils in KS1, 2 and 3 pupils this term on raising their awareness of this important issue.

In England, we may feel that we are losing the battle in the argument for inclusion. Despite the weakening of the presumption of inclusion in the Children and Families Act (2014), it is still there, with more than 90% of the two million disabled pupils and students attending schools and colleges, in mainstream provision. Domestically the struggle for inclusion must continue.

However, worldwide, despite 14 years of the Millennium Development Goal (2) requiring that all children should complete primary education, this will not be achieved next year. There have been big advances in many countries in getting millions of children into school, but the nature and quality of that schooling has not been adequate with a recent survey of 350,000 pupils in East Africa (Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda) showing only 15% achieved expected literacy and numeracy levels .

When it comes to children with disabilities, as they are known internationally, the numbers in school in most developing countries, though there are no accurate figures, is likely to be less than 10% and numbers completing primary education is less than 1%. So as more children are successfully enrolled in school, the proportion of those out of school who are disabled, are rising. Schools and learning are not generally accessible and teachers do not know how to make reasonable accommodations or provide the right support, so the drop out of enrolled pupils with disabilities is high. There are many reasons. Negative attitudes of parents and teachers are the biggest barrier, followed by poverty-parents need children to work and can’t afford school fees, long distances to school, lack of accessible schools and then lack of adequate teacher training.

In 2012, there were about 28.9 million primary teachers working in classrooms around the world. With universal primary education high on the political agenda, countries have made great efforts to boost the supply of teachers, by 16% globally since 1999 . At least 20 countries have more than doubled their teacher workforces.

Training All Teachers for Inclusive Education
However, as demonstrated by my recent work for UNICEF on preparing teachers for children with disabilities (CWD), most teachers in developing countries get no training on including children with disabilities. If they do get training, it is based on a special education needs model, where the focus is on separating the child from their peers to segregated classes and schools and focussing on what they cannot do from a ‘medical model’. There is an urgent need for all teachers pre-service and in-service, to get twin-track training on including children with disabilities.

Track One: Education based on Principles of Equality and Child Empowerment involves foundations and inclusive values which apply and are beneficial to all groups of marginalized learners and children e.g. girls, nomads, rural, poor, child soldiers/orphans, those with HIV/AIDS, children with disabilities, linguistic and ethnic minorities, traumatised and displaced children. The principles to enable a child friendly educational environment outlined by UNESCO are:
‘Equality and Valuing Difference
Identifying Barriers – Finding Solutions
Collaborative Learning – Peer Support
Differentiation & Flexible Curriculum and Assessment
Stimulating and Interesting Multi-Sensory Learning Environment
An Anti-Bias Curriculum
Child Centred Pedagogy, Creative with Reflective Teachers
Quality education requiring rigour and effort for each child to achieve their potential’ (UNESCO).

Track Two: Education accommodating the different impairment specific needs of children with disabilities or special needs. This will require teachers to be familiar with and able to make accommodations for:
a) Blind and Visually-Impaired pupils /students (Braille, tactile maps and plans, tapes and text to talk, mobility training, large print, magnification, orientation, auditory environment & talking instruments.)
b) Deaf & Hearing-Impaired pupils/students (Sign Language taught & use of interpretation, oral/finger spelling, hearing aid support, visual and acoustic environments.)
c) DeafBlind-Language (Use of interpreters, tactile environment, aids and appliances, orientation.)
d) Physical Impairment (Accessible infrastructure, toilets and washrooms, furniture adjustments, equipment, prosthesis, use of personal assistance, diet, transport, medication.)
e) Speech & Communication impairment (Facilitated communication, augmented communication [high and low tech], social use of language switching, talkers, information grids.)
f) Specific Learning Difficulty (Coloured overlays & background, Easy Read, tapes and text to talk, spell-checkers, concrete objects.)
g) General Cognitive Impairment (Pictograms, small steps curriculum, easy read, scaffolding, Makaton, use of symbols & information grids, using concrete objects.)
h) Mental Health and Behaviour (Counselling and personal support, differentiated behaviour policy, empathy, quiet chill-out space, circles of friends, collaborative learning and structured day.)
i) Introduction to screening, identification and key adjustments for main impairments.
UNESCO Bangkok have produced a very useful online guide on how to go about implementing track two in mainstream schools.

This said, there are many examples of teachers developing the above expertise and including children with disabilities successfully. They are the exception rather than the rule and nowhere have come to scale.

Adolf is visually impaired and can be accommodated in his class in Tanzania due to Sightsavers providing a telescopic sight so he can read the blackboard. After several false starts, Tanzania is now working towards a more system wide approach to inclusion of CWD. Action on Disability and Development International (ADD), have taken on overall responsibility for design, fundraising, implementation, coordination, monitoring, evaluation and dissemination with the MOEVT. Modelling Inclusive Education (MIE) project expects to cover three districts in Coast region with 265 primary schools. These are demonstrating how CWD can be fully included, teachers trained and curriculum adapted so they get quality education. Now the task is to make sure this approach gets into the Post-Millennium Development Goals in 2015.
The prospects for the coming period could change the few examples of inclusive practice into the norm, but there are two obstacles. Firstly, that as the pressure to marketize education increases and more businesses view education services as a means of profit, rather than a public good then those who are seen as difficult or different from the norm will become an inconvenient truth and as the currency of the market becomes standardised test scores those who achieve differently or at a different pace will be squeezed out and old models of segregation will re-assert themselves. Secondly, as the world moves closer to all children being in school the decreasing minority still out of school will not be funded. Against this is the agreement that in what replaces the Millennium Development Goals disability should be specifically mentioned. The Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights have issued guidance to countries that they must consider disabled children when reporting on progress in establishing human rights . UNICEF have prioritised disabled children and are holding the first global meeting of disabled children and young people in New York in June. This follows the publication of a series of useful publication . ‘Take us Seriously’, being about gathering children with disabilities views and the Global Report on Children last year focused on disability . So it is now about mounting sufficient political pressure to turn fine words into reality.

Notes
1. http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/RegularSessions/Session25/Documents/A-HRC-25-29_en.doc
2. http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/TBSearch.aspx?Lang=en&TreatyID=4&DocTypeID=5
3. http://ap.ohchr.org/documents/dpage_e.aspx?si=A/HRC/25/L.30 25th March 2014
Global Monitoring Report 2013/14 UNESCO
4. http://www.app.collinsindicate.com/uis-atlas-teachers/en-us
5. http://worldofinclusion.com/unicef-project-educating-teachers-for-children-with-disabilities/
UNESCO (2009). Policy Guidelines on Inclusion in Education. Paris: UNESCO. http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0017/001778/177849e.pdf
6.http://worldofinclusion.com/unicef-project-educating-teachers-for-children-with-disabilities/
7. UNESCO (2009). Policy Guidelines on Inclusion in Education. Paris: UNESCO. http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0017/001778/177849e.pdf
8. UNESCO Bangkok (2009). Teaching Children with Disabilities in Inclusive Settings. Specialized Booklet 3. Part of Embracing Diversity: Toolkit for creating inclusive , learning-friendly environments. Bangkok: UNESCO.
9. http://www2.unescobkk.org/elib/publications/243_244/Teaching_children.pdf
10. UN OHCHR (2013) Thematic study on the right of persons with disabilities to education Report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights A/HRC/25/29 http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/RegularSessions/Session25/Pages/ListReports.aspx
11. Global Partnership for Children with Disabilities http://www.unicef.org/disabilities/index_69776.html
12. http://www.unicef.org/disabilities/files/Take_Us_Seriously.pdf
13. http://www.unicef.org/sowc2013/files/SWCR2013_ENG_Lo_res_24_Apr_2013.pdf

Meeting the Challenge of the new SEN

Posted on April 15, 2014

‘Meeting the Challenge of the New SEN/ Disability Framework: Protecting the Entitlement of Disabled Children, those with SEN and their Teachers.’

Postcard NUT Fringe_2014

Speech given by Richard Rieser at Conference Fringe Meeting Monday 21st April 2014 in Brighton Centre, 12.45. 

The new framework will adversely impact on all teachers and children and reverse current practice of  inclusion.

Countering the bias to Inclusive Education was the stated Manifesto commitment of the Tories, personally written by David Cameron and adopted by the Coalition. This ideological stance combined with the wider commitment to privatisation and ‘choice’ in the accelerated introduction of free schools and academies has provided a toxic background to the framing of the Children and Families Act, Part 3. This will be implemented in all English local authorities school, Early Years settings and FE colleges from September 2014.

There have been some potentially positive moves:

  1. There must b a local offer for those with SEN and disability, produced by local authorities and subject to consultation with parents and young people with SEN/ disability.
  2. The provision is from 0-25. Education Health and Care Plans (EHC) cover this period.
  3. Health Service has to provide what is required to meet the needs of those with SEN.
  4. There will be an EHC Plan to replace a statement-transition will be 3 years from September 2014, but no effective means of enforcing the non-educational health and social care.
  5. Further Education and Post Schools provision will be part of same legal framework, though Higher Education is excluded.

However, there are far more potentially negative impacts on children and teachers:

  1. The School Action/School Action stage is being replaced by one SEN school-based stage.
  2. All teachers, not the SENCO, will be responsible for the progress of these children, including recording and meeting with parents. This has major workload implications.
  3. The Individual Education Plan is going and there will be no agreed format for recoding interventions
  4. The presumption of inclusion is significantly weakened by more caveats which schools can use to object to admitting a pupil with SEN.
  5. Children without an EHC plan/Statement can be placed in a special academy or special free school and have none of current legal protections of children with a statement- this will lead to dumping as parents can be misled by managements who don’t want their children.
  6. It will be much harder to get an EHC plan than getting a statement. This has been made more difficult  by new school funding arrangements- funding consists of AWPU, school top-up funding for special needs to £10,000. The school will have to demonstrate it is spending £10,000 on the individual pupil before many local authorities will give an assessment for an EHC Plan and access to the Higher Needs Budget, even though this will be unlawful. The Higher Needs Budget funds all individual Special Needs expenditure, above £10,000 per pupil/student and covers Early Years, schools including special and residential special schools, colleges,   special colleges and other provision. The local authority holds this budget.
  7. Families and young people will be able to have personal budgets for services, which will cause many issues in schools.
  8. The legislation is not as specific and parents have lost some of their current legal protections.

Schools  are also under a duty to provide auxiliary aids and services to disabled pupils/students as a reasonable adjustment. This is an anticipatory adjustment which means it needs to be in place before the pupil arrives and certainly from when they are in the school. Schools need to keep funds for these adjustments. This is at odds with the graduated approach being suggested for the school stage.

Support Motion 30 and the updating amendment from Hackney which gives the NUT policy on the above and  instructs the Executive to initiate urgent policy discussions with the Opposition and other interested parties in the voluntary sector, trade unions and parents’ organizations, to develop a strategy of damage limitation and to ensure alternative mechanisms are developed to enable all children and young people with SEN to have their needs met and to maximise the development of inclusive practice throughout the education system. This is backed up by an action and campaign strategy to defend current provision and to fight for a more inclusive ‘local offer’.

The attached policy below was overwhelmingly adopted at the NUT Conference in Brighton on Sunday 20 th April 2014.
There were two amendments now incorporated in the attached.
The second which called for the union to campaign for an inclusive system from which no child was excluded on grounmds of disability caused some debate  with som 20% of delegates voting against, but they then very largely adopted the amendende motion. Many newer delegates were not familiar with the arguments for inclusion and the Union had a big training and educaton job on its hands as part of its General Campaign to defend Education from privatuisationm and profiteering being promoted by Mr Gove.
During lunchtime on the 21st a fringe meeting, organised by Hackney NUT on SEN and Inclusion was very well attended with more than 100 teachers from across the country addressed by Jonthan and Lucy Bartley of CSIE and Parents for Inclusion who had campairgned for 2 years to get their son Samuel into a mainstream school and were now fighting for him to transition to a mainstream secondary. Jonathan, who confronted Cameron during the last election over his policy of a bias to inclusion, got him to give the assurance that no parent who wanted mainstream would be denied. Jonathan said ” This committement had not been honoured in the Children and Families Act (part 3) and the subsequent draft Code of Practice which make it much harder for families who want inclusion to get it”. Richard Rieser of Hackney NUT and World of Inclusion and author of the Conference motion describerd the battle to get the Children and Family Bill amended and how we now needed to build a campaign to defend and improve inclusive provision. Max Hyde President of the NUT spoke saying how important the inclusion of disabled pupils and students was and how impressed the Union delegation to Finland had recently been byu inclusive practice and competence of teachers and that thje whole country only had 8 special schools for deaf students.
Nick Wigmore from Executive(Manchester) spoke of how his child with autism spent three hours a day on a bus rather than be at his mainstream school as the Local; Authority had placed him in a special school and no schools in the area were prepared to take him. He gave an assurance that the Executive would implement the policy and campaign for an inclusive alternative to the Children and Families Act.
More that 60 attendees signed up to being part of an informal network to develop the campaign.

NUT 2014 Policy overwhelmingly adopted by over 1100c delegates representing 330,000 teachers in England and Wales. Sunday 20th April 2014

SPECIAL EDUCATION AND INCLUSION

“Conference reiterates its policy of 2011 of supporting inclusive education and developing disability equality in mainstream schools.

 

Conference recognises that Part 3 of the Children and Families Bill (though expanding the protection of a Statement through the Education Health and Care Plan (EHC Plan) to 0-25 year old children and young people), does not provide adequate safeguards for the large majority of children and young people with special educational needs at the school/college based stage.

 

Conference is further concerned at the damaging impact and pace of change envisaged by the government, in particular:

 

1. The introduction from April 2014 of mandatory changes in school funding and the higher needs block;

 

2. The negative impact of these funding changes on both mainstream and special schools additional needs block and Age Weighted Pupil Unit, that will lead to a reduction in funding for special educational needs (SEN);

 

3. The proposed change over from Statement to EHC plan of three years from September 2014;

 

4. Notwithstanding the late incorporation of disabled children/ young people without SEN into some of the statutory duties, there remains a significant disconnect between SEN and Disability Equality Duties which cover many of the same pupil/student population.

 

5. The increased statutory responsibility on Local Authorities at a time of reduction in Local Authority budgets, in particular reductions in specialist and advisory teachers in SEN and disability; and

 

6. Proposals to phase out teaching assistants.

 

7. The weakening of the presumption of inclusion by conflating previously different tests that will make it far harder for those children and young people with SEN who want a mainstream placement to secure one ;

 

8. The loss of the Individual Education Plan and the new Draft Code of Practice placing the responsibility on class and subject teachers for recording progress and meeting parents of children at the School Stage. This has significant increase of workload implications;

 

9. The right of Special Academies and Special Free Schools to enrol children and students with SEN on an indefinite basis, without an EHC Plan, which is not permitted for maintained and non- maintained Special Schools.

 

 

Conference recognises the negative impact of the above changes on the inclusion and education of disabled children and young people and those with SEN.

Furthermore, Conference condemns comments from The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) that Inclusion is only right for some disabled children.

 

Conference therefore instructs the Executive to enter into urgent policy discussions with the Opposition and other interested parties in the voluntary sector, trade unions and parents’ organisations, to develop a strategy of damage limitation and to ensure alternative mechanisms are developed to enable all children and young people with SEN to have their needs met and to maximise the development of inclusive practice throughout the education system. Following these discussions and not later than January 2015, Conference instructs the Executive to launch a public campaign to ensure this plan becomes a General Election issue.

 

In order to safeguard the provision for disabled children and young people and those with special educational needs and to ensure that teachers’ workload is not increased in meeting these needs, Conference instructs the Executive to carry out the following:

  1. Produce guidance for all members on the impacts the above changes will have on students and staff;
  2. Provide advice and support to Divisions urging them to ensure the Local Offer fully reflects the choice of a range of quality inclusive mainstream provision with sufficient places, for children and young people, with the whole range and severity of impairments.
  3. Launch a publicity campaign on the impacts and the possible alternatives;
  4. Support for members on a school-by-school basis and across Local Authorities in balloting for sustained industrial action to protect existing provision, jobs and conditions.
  5.  Campaign for a fully inclusive education system which ensures that disabled children are not excluded from education on the grounds of disability”.