Inclusion…does it work?

Wheelchair-Inclusion.jpgInclusion in schools is about no longer distinguishing between “general education” and “special education” programs.

At its most basic it means children with special needs join school in mainstream classes, this does work for some children but for others it is proving difficult, not just for the child with special needs but for the other children that are in the classroom.

One lovely child I worked with when I was a LSA (Learning Support Assistant) in another school was a wheelchair user, had autism, physical disabilities and a chronic disease. He was a bright child with a wicked sense of humour, however his special needs would cause to shout out loudly in class, to break wind and disrupt the teaching.

We also caused disruptions by going out of class to do some exercise every 15 minutes. It was at this point that the teacher would more than likely ask me to keep him out because of the disruption caused on the during the lesson.

It saddened me to see the upset caused to the child, teacher and the class, it is clearly unfair on all parties. This happened in every lesson and the teacher was exasperated with whole situation, sadly though this is not an uncommon occurrence.

Teachers have enough on their hands with the differentiation (that means tailoring instruction to meet individual needs. Whether teachers differentiate content, process, products, or the learning environment, the use of ongoing assessment and flexible grouping makes this a successful approach to planning and instruction) within any class.

Each school will have a SENCO (SENCO stands for “Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator”. A SENCO is responsible for the day-to-day operation of the school’s SEN policy. All mainstream schools must appoint a teacher to be their SENCO) whose job it is to help the children follow interventions and other work that has been decided on an IEP (Individual Education Plan is a plan or programme designed for children with SEN to help them to get the most out of their education) between child psychologists, parents, teachers and the school SENCO.

Each child is different and the programme can be very involved, and for the teaching assistant it will be a major part of your role and with 30 children in a class time is at a premium and with school cuts the number of teaching assistant is dropping.

If there are three or four children in one class with SEN and the Teaching Assistant is only employed for four hours a day is it really possible to do all that is required?

So does inclusion work? Inclusion in principle is a great idea as we live in a world where people are very different and it is lovely children just accept how people are.

However, children are individuals so the solution needs to be individual. There are numerous examples of children with SEN who have successfully integrated in mainstream schools which has been a benefit to both themselves and their peers.

On the other hand if it is not working with a particular child who exactly is it benefiting? Not the child, the class or the school, maybe we need to find specialist help for those who cannot integrate because surely if we don’t we are letting them down?

Assaults on teaching staff

You wouldn’t think that violence towards teaching staff would be an issue in primary school but it is something to be concerned about.

Last Essex saw a record number of attacks on staff.

There were 408 fixed term exclusions of pupils as a result of these incidents between 2015 to 2016, the highest number since 2006.

The number of assaults was up from the 368 recorded in 2014 to 2015, with classroom violence now far more prevalent in recent years than ever before.

Secondary school pupils in Essex were suspended 64 times for physical attacks on adults in 2015 to 2016. 

Myself, work friends and colleagues can recall at least one or two instances, one punched in the testicles, one bitten, I have been spat at in the face. These are very unpleasant and of course not acceptable and were dealt with by the schools in quesrions. 

So what do I do if something happens to me?

Write down exactly what happened puting on the date and time of it, give a copy to your line manager and take a copy for yourself.

I tend to type it out and email it to myself as it is stored and time stampes by your conputer.

What steps are taken next will be down to the schools senior staff and the governors should it go that far. 

Just remember to keep yourself safe first. Do everything by the book and make sure you are followinh the school safeguarding policy.

Insect days!

dragon‘Daddy’ asked my youngest ‘why do you have to go to school on insect days?’.

Ah…Insect Days or rather INSET Days.

Well INSET was originally an acronym for IN-SErvice Training day and is one of a series of five days in most English, Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish schools on which school sessions are not run and the pupils do not attend school and staff have training of sorts.

They are a real pain for parents, I know…I am one. You need to find child care which is costly but we need to train on many, many issues such as safeguarding, behaviour, special needs, changes to the curriculum (which is frequent with it seems any government) to name but a few.

 

It also gives us (the teaching assistants) time to rearrange the school, tidy, move clean and it can be quite hard work.

In most schools each Teaching Assistant will be given an area to look after.

For instance, I look after IT. That means making sure all the computing and IT equipment in the school is working, the programs are functioning, finding new software for the ever changing IT curriculum, repairing broken hardware, coordinating with external suppliers, keeping everyone informed and hopefully happy.

 

 

 

Finally…the end of Term!

The end of term today…that’s 195 working days at school plus whatever we have given in our own time which we choose to freely give, the children have had 190 days at school this academic year.

scaled_256 (1)The last day of Summer 2, that is the second part of the Summer Term has been nearly 7 weeks long.

It has been a hot, tiring but fun time in year 4.

There is an anticipation by both staff and students about the coming break. The teachers are worn out having worked 50 – 60 hours per week. I have watched my lovely talented teacher mark hundreds of pieces of work, plan numerous lessons plus lead in a specific subject (this involves much work on the curriculum) co-ordinate various school events and serve as a school governor.

Of course, we don’t do as many hours as our class teacher and in general don’t mark (although I occasionally have) do lesson planning (although I occasionally have) but we may need to do some intervention or precision teaching planning, we have our gate, playground and lunch duties, classroom work and help at the School Production or Nativity, Class Assemblies and other events.

On top of this all staff have the physical, social, mental and emotional welfare of the children to take into account. This can be physically and emotionally exhausting at times.

So the end of the academic year comes as a welcome break for all.

It is a time for the children in the class to relax, bring in some games, watch a movie (it was Minions today – an excellent film – which made me laugh!) and tidy up and get all their work that they want/need to take home in the carrier bags that they have hopefully remembered to bring in.

 

It’s a little chaotic, the children get a little excitable but it is fun.

It is traditional in schools in the UK for parents to give gifts to the teachers and teaching assistants at the end of term. So a bottle wine, a box of chocolates or home fudge is great but for me a card or note from a parent or a child thanking you is the best.

I still have one from parents whose daughter was in my class last year thanking me ‘for all the time and effort I had put in to helping her’, it makes you realise that just maybe I have made a difference to someones life.

So end of the day comes, we wave goodbye to our year 6, sign their shirts, shake their hands and wish them the best on the next part of their journey, for some it will be hard work and fun, for others I am concerned for their future and I can’t help wonder what will become of them.

My class get all their work to take home and we wish everyone a good break and then they are gone.

I sit in the classroom, in the silence reflecting on the last year, good times and bad times, some of the children I will miss. I will miss helping them learn, making them laugh…

back-to-school.jpg

…but a new year starts in September and with a new class comes a new teacher and it all starts again!

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Some of what we do…

What is our role?
The role can be wide and varied however it really is down to the school, your manager and the teacher (who is also your manager) you are working with and these may well include:

  • Interventions 
    These are times set aside to help pupils with differing needs. They take place before that start of school or at lunchtime and may include: Handwriting, Phonics, Spellings, Time, Mathematics, Grammar, Semantics, Colorful Semantics, ToebyToe, Times Tables and more besides.
  • Classroom  Support
    You will be expected to help any child that needs it in your classroom. You may well be directed by your teacher as too the who and the type of help they need but this should be worked out on your planning time early in the week.
  • Boards
    You will be expected to populate boards around your classroom and possibly. These are likely to be any subject the children are follow. You will need to be quick and imaginative, a little eye catching to provide a good place to display your children’s work.
  • Sports
    You will be probably be expected to help at the sports day. It is important to be appropriate with your dress sense as parents will be there and watching. So I would suggest you follow the school dress code, cover any tattoos, shorts and the school sports polo shirt or plain t-shirt.
  • Emotional Support
    Children go through both good times and bad times and supporting a child emotionally can be very difficult. Your school will have a safeguarding policy in place, make sure you read it and understand it. Please refer to my safeguarding page.
  • Physical Support
    You may have children in your class the require some form of physical support. If this is the case, you may need some training. A qualification in Paediatric Training Level 3 is is usually required and most schools will train you.
  • Break/Lunchtime Support
    You will spend a portion of your day in the playground keeping an eye on the children as they play. This will include sorting out occasional fights, squabbles, tears, cuts, bumps, bruises and recording them correctly. Bullying and physical violence are not tolerated in any school and when this has taken place a senior member of staff would need to be notified. You will need write down everything that has happened at the time as you are a witness and may be required to come forward if parents become involved. This is also a good chance to talk to the children ask them what they do, clubs they are in and get to know them.

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