Mother-Teachers: Insights on Inclusion


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Mother-Teachers: Insights into Inclusion

Communication needs to be frequent and open, but also be honest. When communicating information pertaining to assessment data or behavior, sensitive and straightforward language should be used. Educators should also avoid professional jargon, explain key terminology, and check with families to make sure they understand the information provided Salend, Effective communication between IEP team members or educators involved in transition planning has been noted as a major contributor to student success Fish, Interventions used with children who have special needs should engage parents as collaborative partners Blue-Banning et al.

The focus study offers insights on effective home and school communication from the perspective of parents and is focused on children with special needs. The findings are based on a focus group with four parents, consisting of three mothers and one father, representing three families. Parents addressed the importance of early identification. It is important to communicate early suspicions of behaviour or learning difficulties, as early identification and remediation promotes success.

Assessment data needs to be communicated sensitively. Parents described how overwhelming it feels when assessment data are presented through educational jargon. While parents appreciated thoroughness in assessment, they benefited from the explanation of the assessment and what can be done to support their child.

Interpersonal skills and strategies, such as self-determination and advocacy skills, are predictive factors of success after graduation. Parents are experts on their own children. Unfortunately, for participants in this study, recommendations and programming interventions suggested by the parents were not always implemented at school. Parents need to serve as strong advocates for their child. Parents discussed the importance of promoting open lines of communication and recommended that parents be available for contact.

In order to promote home school relationships surrounding a child with a disability, educators need to provide parents with positive feedback surrounding their child, and this feedback needs to be specific and genuine. In regards to parent-teacher interviews, educators need to allocate adequate time for communication. Educators need to identify and communicate concerns early and sensitivity is needed when communicating assessment data. Educators can benefit from parental knowledge of children and the strategies that work best for them, and should utilize this knowledge to inform their instruction.

Educators and parents to need to work together, as interactions between home and school can foster positive attitudes and promote positive outcomes for a child with a diagnosed exceptionality. Barton, A. Louis, K. Ecologies of parental engagement in urban education. Educational Researcher, 33 4 , Blue-Banning, M. Dimensions of family and professional partnerships: Constructive guidelines for collaboration. Cobb, C. The three legged stool of parental inclusion: The case of Hana. British Journal of Special Education, 41 3 , Childre, A.

Family perceptions of student centered planning and IEP meetings. Education and Training in Developmental Disabilities, 40 3 , Cox, D. Evidence-based interventions using home-school collaboration. School Psychology Quarterly, 20 4 , Fish, W. Perceptions of parents of students with autism towards the IEP meeting: A case study of one family support group chapter.

I argue that while the rhetoric of policy has moved inclusion into the mainstream, in reality, for many children and their families, the experience of inclusion is very different. If the policy commitment is to translate into reality in our schools and classrooms, then I would argue that policies relating to inclusion, such as the training of teachers, the funding of schools and the assessment of achievement, must be informed by these voices of experience. This is a book about lived experiences of inclusion and exclusion. Emerging from the growing demand for equity and social justice, inclusion requires changes in the structures and processes of mainstream educational institutions to meet the needs of all children within an educational system which values and respects difference as diversity rather than deviance.

It also requires the support and determination of parents and professionals if it is ever to become a reality for thousands of children in the UK.


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Within the official discourse of inclusion, the development of home—school relations has been signalled in the official discourse as a significant way to ensure a more equal partnership between parents and professionals. Indeed, since the Education Act, numerous policy documents e. DfEE , a, b, c, a, b, , DfES , have called for partnership between parents and professionals in relation to children perceived as having special educational needs.

During that time a number of books and articles 2 Introduction exploring issues related to parent—professional partnership e. Armstrong , Dale , Wolfendale , , Swain and Walker have highlighted the need for a greater understanding of how meaningful partnerships might be developed for the benefit of the children. The suggestion in the literature is that despite the legislation increasing parental rights, there remains an imbalance between parents and professionals Fulcher , Armstrong , Wolfendale and Cook , Todd , although Armstrong 27 maintains that parents are not perceived as passive participants.

This complexity merits further examination if we are to gain new insights into how inclusion might be moved forward. This book argues that listening to the experiences of mothers who are also professionals in a related field is an important and relevant way of gaining new understandings and exploring the perceived imbalance of power. These women are also involved in the education of children who in some way or other present a challenge to the education system as it stands at the beginning of the twenty-first century.

The stories of the mother-teachers span 20 years or more and cross two continents. Two of the children are now in their late teens and one is now an adult; one is just embarking on her school career; one has experience of two education systems 3, miles apart, and two will always need the constant support of both their parents and a range of professionals.

Although there are similarities, the stories of the children and their families represent unique and singular experiences, 3 Mother-Teachers: Insights into Inclusion reflecting considerable differences in degrees of inclusion and support. They offer different perspectives on parental and professional approaches and should alert the reader to an awareness of the many differences of meaning and experience of both inclusion and exclusion. Inclusion and exclusion Inclusion and exclusion take place on many different levels within different contexts. While policy offers a macro-context, internationally, nationally and locally, experience offers insights into how that policy impacts on individual lives in both the public and the private domains.

This may be an uncomfortable thought for practitioners but, far from seeking to lay blame, the book exhorts professionals to listen to parents and to examine how they, as professionals, might address some of the issues within their own practice. Through a different and unique perspective, these mother-teachers have reflected on their practice, values and approaches and in many cases have redefined their own understandings of terms such as inclusion, exclusion and special educational needs. Special educational needs and terminology Writing a book about special educational needs, disability, inclusion and exclusion is problematic in relation to terminology.

As support and funding have historically been associated with the identification and categorisation of need, parents have, not unreasonably, sought to 4 Introduction use SEN terminology to argue their case for educational support for their children. The use of terminology to refer to the different aspects of disability and learning difficulty is in itself a challenge, for, in condensing the multiplicity of issues to a single term, there is always the danger of reductionism. Thomas and Glenny suggest that such arguments for inclusion have to emerge less out of the kind of supposed knowledge so respected by 20th-century educators, less out of notions of success and failure of children or of schools and more out of ideas about social justice and human rights.

But as Lindsay argues, we need to consider rights 5 Mother-Teachers: Insights into Inclusion Children have special educational needs if they have a learning difficulty which calls for special educational provision to be made for them original emphasis. Children have a learning difficulty if they: a have a significantly greater difficulty in learning than the majority of children of the same age; or b have a disability which prevents or hinders them from making use of educational facilities of a kind generally provided for children of the same age in schools within the area of the local education authority; c are under compulsory school age and fall within the definition at a or b above or would do so if special educational provision was not made for them.

DfES 6, section 1. A person has a disability for the purposes of this Act if he has a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on his ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities. Clough and Barton , Moore et al. The stories told here are from two very particular insider perspectives. The lived experiences reflect the range and complexity of issues and ideas; of what counts as inclusion and what matters to these mothers and teachers.

It is not just about the ideology of inclusion but about the reality, experienced in different ways and on many different levels. While the macro-level and meta-analysis offer an important overview, we must keep a space in which we can listen to the voices of individuals and their experiences. This book is about that space and some of those voices.

The stories are lived within both a policy and a sociological context. Without some understanding of these contexts, the stories remain the tales of individual lives; fascinating and provoking but impossible to bring into political and sociological relief. For this they need to be considered against the broader canvass of their times. Policy and sociological contexts Conflicting policies?

In education policy, too, these years saw considerable changes involving the gradual and continual erosion of professional teacher autonomy and the removal of Local Education Authority control of education through policies which, 7 Mother-Teachers: Insights into Inclusion at the same time, centralised the control of education in the national government and decentralised budgets to schools.

Parental choice and performance indicators such as league tables, seen as the way to raise educational standards, worked to create a quasi-market in education Barton and from the mids onwards there was a marked shift from notions of social equity, as set out in the Education Act, to those of standards and excellence.

Alongside policies aimed at raising standards were placed those supporting the rights of children with SEN and policies which purported to promote educational inclusion for all children. There is competition for funding both between schools and within individual schools, and provision for SEN can often depend on the level of parental advocacy: the more vocal the parent, the more resources the child may receive. It involves policies of entitlement, rights and the recognition and valuing of diversity Barton , Armstrong and Barton Many argue that a relationship between the market ethos and inclusion is incompatible e.

Armstrong , Barton , Warnock , Gewirtz et al. It is against the emerging tensions from this seemingly incompatible policy context that the stories are told. Within these tensions, teachers and parents have to 8 Introduction try to negotiate a relationship between the private space of home and the public arena of the school. For children with SEN and disabilities, this is seen as especially important and is increasingly recognised in policy documents e. DfES In the Warnock Report DES stated: Parents can be effective partners only if professionals take notice of what they say and of how they express their needs, and treat their contribution as intrinsically important.

It is therefore essential that all professionals schools, LEAs and other agencies actively seek to work with parents and value the contribution they make. This is particularly so when a child has special educational needs. All parents of children with special educational needs should be treated as partners. The next section 2.

Since , the Schools Standards and Framework Act DfEE c has required all schools in England and Wales to have signed home—school agreements which are to be drawn up in consultation with parents. There are differences in meaning, however, between the terms relationship and partnership, but I consider Pugh et al. This implies a sharing of information, responsibility, skills and decision making and accountability. Pugh et al.

A number of things may contribute to the tensions and possible conflict between parents and professionals: competition for resources; greater expectations of parents; increasing legal power of parents; difference between parental expectations and professional achievements; greater division and competition among professionals; parental stress and family conflict; lack of empathy and, perhaps most notably, poor communication skills and an unwillingness to share power on the part of the professionals Dale Hood argues that the unequal balance of power between professionals and parents is certainly a factor here.

Recent research supports the view that parents are more usually seen not as consumers or partners but rather as supporters or, even worse, as problems, and that despite the rhetoric, the home—school divide seems as wide as ever Ouston and Hood Armstrong 1 raises some interesting questions in relation to the role of professionals and partnership. He argues that the relationship is further complicated by the vested interest of professionals in the outcomes of assessment procedures.

Parents are often presented as a unified group who support the aims and ethos of the school without question Vincent ; but this does not appear to be the case Hanafin and Lynch The discourse of home—school relations is another important factor. School can be seen as representative of the divide between public and private, between professional knowledge and personal experience. Ribbens McCarthy maintains that there is an important and unequal power divide here between the public and the private: In order to understand what is going on between mothers and schools we have to recognise this boundary and the various associated and extensive differences in terms of the values and concerns that are relevant on each side.

Failure to acquire such knowledge reflects on mothers, especially if the mother is herself a teacher. Through academe, the media, government policy, social practices, linguistic rules and the language of the powerful, often patriarchal groups, these constructions come into play. Discourses are powerful, for they can shape our actions, thoughts and even our perception of ourselves as successes or failures. Control of the dominant discourses in any area affects the distribution of resources and therefore the material success of one 13 Mother-Teachers: Insights into Inclusion group over others.

Within these powerful discourses, the voice of individual experience is frequently silenced within the generality of meaning that discourses create.

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Through the silencing of the language of experience, discourse objectifies individuals Corker and French and removes their private voice, the voice of experience. Certainly hegemonic discourse is being challenged in a number of areas now, such as race, gender and sexuality. In the field of special educational needs and disability, the social construction model is a good example of the re-authoring of discourse Moore et al. How these women position themselves within dominant discourses and offer resistance to them emerges through their stories, along with the ways in which discourses can shift to retain control.

The mother-teachers are clearly actors in both the political and the social fields and the complexity of the issues, which form the background to the book, are mirrored in the lived complexities emerging from the stories.

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A qualitative, personal experience, narrative approach seemed to be the most appropriate methodology. The search for the stories Identifying teachers of children with special educational needs, who were also mothers of children with special educational needs, was not an easy task at first. How to identify this select group without seeming to be asking personal and possibly sensitive questions needed to be carefully considered. Letters were sent to the head teachers of all the 14 Introduction schools mainstream primary, secondary and special within five LEAs, explaining the research and enclosing a separate envelope for the SENCO Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator , which contained a covering letter.

It was then up to the mother-teachers to make contact with me and enclose their own contact details only if they chose to do so. The final six stories for inclusion in the research were selected for the diversity of their experiences both personally and professionally. They invest resources and time, just as official and normative discourses would have us believe.

David 1 As mothers, the women in this book inhabit the private sphere, the domestic domain where women and young children live their experiences. As teachers, they move into the public world; the professional world of expert knowledge. If, as is claimed David a, Sikes , Ribbens McCarthy , school is where these two worlds meet, then the stories told here span that boundary. They span a generation of women. The mother-teachers are all fully qualified 15 Mother-Teachers: Insights into Inclusion teachers with a range of teaching experience, which includes mainstream primary, mainstream secondary, special schools, special residential schools and higher education.

All the women are white and, although some of them describe their origins as working class, they would all now consider themselves middle class. They are all in longstanding, married relationships none of them are single parents , although this only emerged through the subsequent interviews. It is my regret that none of the mothers represents any other ethnic or single-parent group.

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This reflects the fact that in the original search for participants it was felt that there were already two limiting variables; to introduce a third or fourth might have made the task too difficult. However, while I acknowledge this omission and the possibility that mother-teachers from different groups may have different perceptions, I hope they will relate to some of the experiences and perspectives described here. All names are pseudonyms and some dates and place names have been changed to protect anonymity further.

Sonia teaches in the primary department of a residential special school and long-stay centre for pupils and adults with epilepsy. Her son Christopher has autism and profound and multiple learning difficulties and disabilities. She has two daughters, Sally aged 15 and Lara aged 13 , both of whom have dyslexia.

She has an adopted son John aged 10 who has learning difficulties and emotional and behavioural difficulties. Kate is the youngest of the mother-teachers. Joan works at a special school and has a senior management post with responsibility for inclusion. James, her son of almost 19, has a rare condition, Cornelia de Lange syndrome, which has left him with profound learning difficulties. The stories in this book are representations of experience, single accounts, moments in time.

The first two chapters outline the political and sociological contexts. Chapter 1 offers the policy context in relation to the developing tensions between the two key policy initiatives of recent governments, 17 Mother-Teachers: Insights into Inclusion i. It considers these tensions in relation to teachers in mainstream and special schools, particularly SENCOs in mainstream schools, who are often expected to balance the needs of children with SEN and policies aimed at promoting inclusion within the context of a competitive market ethos.

Chapter 3 offers my own personal and professional story from which the study began. The story moves from my own development as a teacher; through the births of my two children and early years of motherhood, to my personal and professional experiences of inclusion and exclusion as competing policies began to impact on schools.

The chapter closes by signposting some of the issues which will be explored in other stories. The following six chapters offer the stories of the mother-teachers. It suggests that notions of inclusion and exclusion operate at many levels not just in relation to mainstream or special schools but also within special schools.

The story challenges the medical model of disability and SEN which presents the birth of a child with profound and multiple disabilities as a tragedy for the whole family, particularly the mother. The inter- and intrarelationship between the personal and professional are highlighted in 18 Introduction this story in which the mother uses her professional role to gain support for her daughters both within her family and in the public arena.

Also illuminated here are some of the difficulties in relation to the delicate balance for teachers and schools between policies of inclusion and competition. Truda is a professor in an American university, where she trains teachers of children with hearing impairments. She and her husband adopt a boy of four with learning difficulties. John offers challenges to Truda both as a mother and as a professional.

Chapter 7 tells the story of Kate, a SENCO in a mainstream primary school, a professional with particular professional knowledge. The notion of them and their children as independent beings who can lead separate lives does not appear in the discourses around mothers or disability, making it difficult for such women to work outside the home, or for their children to have any degree of independence or social interaction with others outside the family. The story highlights the difficulties of matching the needs of mother and child.

The story makes visible the ways in which professionals take control and construct difference in both child and family. Emerging through the individual life stories is a sense of what inclusion means to these women and their children. These mother-teachers are at the very intersection between many issues and tensions related to educational inclusion and exclusion, on many different levels. They are at the junction where policy meets practice; where public meets private; where home meets school.

They are in a position to act as agents of change for their own children and the children they meet in their professional lives. They have agency in the sense that they can change their own practice and influence the practice of others. Their stories have much to offer other professionals by way of reflection and consideration. In what can be argued to be a less flexible professional culture within education today, these stories have an important contribution to make with regard to constructions of difference, inclusion and exclusion, resistance, power relations and, not least, the very real contribution parents can make.

But Handy offers words of encouragement to those who strive to challenge the reproduction of processes, practices and power relations which may exclude certain groups. They are words I find encouraging: 20 Introduction Change comes from small initiatives which work, initiatives which, imitated, become the fashion. We cannot wait for great visions from great people, for they are in short supply at the end of history.

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It is up to us to light our own small fires in the darkness. It outlines the historical changes in education policy since and the development of policies of special educational needs since the Warnock Report DES The two key education policy initiatives of the last two decades of the twentieth century are examined, namely raising standards and inclusion. If the mother is also a teacher of children with special educational needs there can be significant changes in her professional life as well.

The impact of our private experiences on our professional lives is something which is increasingly being explored through feminist methodology David The experiences of the mother-teachers need to be contextualised against the policy, which, in part, informs them. Changes in the welfare state are a part of the context within which national education policy is made. Schools are judged on the published results of their children in tests measured against national norms, with implications for recruitment and funding.

Within the official rhetoric, the development of home—school relationships has been signalled as a way to ensure a more equal partnership between parents and professionals. These two policy strands will now be considered in more detail. The Act extended the spirit of partnership to parents who were required by law to ensure that their child received: efficient full-time education suitable to. Part 36 It gave nominal acceptance of the power of parental choice Part 1V, Teachers were seen as an important part of the partnership, and control of the curriculum was left to them with only minimum restrictions concerning religious education.

Helsby and McCulloch Tensions did exist, however, concerning the balance of power between local and central government which were to have long-term effects on the education system Ranson and Tomlinson The breakdown of the settlement By the s and early s the partnership envisaged by the Act was breaking down.

Changes in economic and social conditions in the s placed increasing demands on the education system while funding declined due to a worsening world economic situation. There seemed to be no national response to the claims being made from all sides, that education was no longer meeting the needs of the country or the individual. During the s the campaign for civil rights had grown in the United States and, although fought initially over race, it had raised issues related to the exclusion of groups of children from certain educational opportunities. By the mids an investigation into 24 Contradictions of principle equal educational opportunities was taking place David a.

In Britain, the Plowden Report DES recommended more parental involvement and positive discrimination in funding and resources for deprived areas. Parents were not represented in the decision-making processes although it was argued that this was the way to make education more effective ibid. However, the recommendations of the Plowden Report, which appeared to be advocating a more progressive style of education in primary schools in England and Wales, were coming under increasing criticism. Critics argued that a more national and centralised system was needed if the economy was to develop and technological change to take place.

Teachers were increasingly being seen as a part of the problem, a view which was made explicit in October by the famous speech, at Ruskin College Oxford, of the then Prime Minister, James Callaghan. The battle over autonomy in the classroom became enmeshed with the battle between the national government and the local authorities over spending, and as education came within the remit of the Local 25 Mother-Teachers: Insights into Inclusion Education Authority LEA , cuts in funding were inevitable.

After , the Conservative government of Margaret Thatcher became increasingly at odds with local authorities. Central government felt it timely to combine attacks on the control of education with attacks on the inefficiency of the service and ineptitude of the teachers. The dominant discourse held that there was something wrong with schools and the teachers in them. Parents, on the other hand, were evolving as natural experts and moral guardians Dale , although it is interesting to note that in the home—school relationship discourse it is the parents who, by the s, are perceived as the problem.

The Education Act of aimed to make schools more accountable to parents and the public. Parents were allowed to state their preference in choice of school, although this did not guarantee a place for their child; to complain about procedures; and to have representation on school governing bodies. Falling numbers of pupils were creating organisational problems for schools which, it was argued, could be solved by open enrolment.

This would allow popular and successful schools to expand. It required all LEAs to follow a formal, staged assessment procedure to identify and assess special educational needs and to issue a Statement of Special Educational Need for schools and parents. There was also a limited commitment to integrate children with SEN into mainstream schools. However, the major changes were to appear in the two Acts of and Instead, the emphasis has come to be placed on parental choice and competition, the management of resources, people and institutions in an increasingly cost-conscious environment, and the extension of a new battery of central controls that establish a strong regulatory framework for state education.

As a means of increasing the choice of schools, the ERA introduced different ways of funding educational institutions independent of the LEAs. City Technology Colleges CTCs and grant-maintained schools offered a challenge to comprehensive schools. It is interesting to note that, despite a decade of Labour government, the debate about selection by ability on entry has not yet gone away completely Gilbourne and Youdell The legislation also introduced open enrolment and LMS, which involved the devolution of the majority of school funding from the LEA to the school.

Funding was worked out on a formula based on the number of pupils on the school roll, the more pupils the bigger the budget. Hardly surprisingly, surveys of parental opinions suggest that many parents welcomed the increased powers given to the Secretary of State for Education by clause 4 of the Education Reform Act Batho Parents were also given increased powers over budgetary control and inspection. Many teachers argued that this seriously undermined their professionalism.

The Education Act set out a direction for the content of the curriculum for schools to follow but it did not attempt to tell teachers how it should be taught. The Act explicitly excluded the allocation of time to be spent on different subjects. Kenneth Baker stated, in a speech to the House of Commons in December , that neither then nor in subsequent legislation did the government intend to lay down the specific amount of time to be spent on each subject, although he felt it would take at least 70 per cent of the available time to deliver the National Curriculum Davies et al.

Although initial plans for the National Curriculum have been modified there is still a high degree of control over the curriculum especially in secondary schools. The amount of prescription appears to be increasing, for the literacy strategy DfEE d and numeracy strategy DfEE e do prescribe the amount of time.

The pedagogy of the two strategies is said to be based on research from within the school effectiveness literature, which pointed to the concept of the effectiveness of teachers as instructors rather than as organisers and facilitators. The Act brought to an end the relative freedom which teachers had experienced since the early post-war years Helsby and McCulloch There is evidence that many teachers did not support the changes Helsby and Saunders , feeling that much of their flexibility to make and act upon professional judgement had been removed.

It is argued that, for many teachers, the combination of imposed change, lack of support and planning time has resulted in the loss of a considerable amount of professional confidence Helsby Corbett 2 The league tables do not allow for those children for whom success cannot be measured in examination results and who find it difficult to relate to a curriculum which is often culturally exclusive. Children who experience learning difficulties, for whatever reason, may not be considered of value to schools who have to publish their examination results, as the league tables do not offer any indication of the range of learning difficulties within a school.

Birkett 3 argues that league tables only paint half the picture: They should put results into context a bit more. A bright child with physical disability is not the same as a child with severe learning difficulties. These standards must be reached regardless of the social background of the pupil Davies et al. SENCOs are likely to be placed in a position of being the advocate for such children, putting themselves in professional — and possibly personal conflict with their colleagues.

Built into the Act are provisions to ensure that these expectations are appropriate so that all children, including those with special educational needs, can benefit to the best of their ability. DES But the changes brought about by the Education Acts of and have considerably affected the cultural climate within which SEN reform and policies of inclusion take place. For teachers and children this undoubtedly causes stresses and strains as they try to achieve imposed targets and meet prescribed assessment procedures.

Recent notions of segregated provision emanate from the Education Act, which while offering on one level an opportunity for social inclusion that would have otherwise been denied, did so through structures which excluded many children from mainstream education Armstrong Originally developed through the Church and various charities, the concept of special education has grown through this separate and segregated provision.

Before examining recent policy developments towards inclusion, it is important to understand the context within which the concept of special educational need has arisen. SEN: a historical overview Chapter 2 of the Warnock Report DES outlines the historical development of special education in this country and illustrates how it grew as a separate part of the education system in the not too far distant past. I find the following passage worth quoting at length, for it neatly summarises the nature of this development.

The very first schools for the blind and deaf were founded in the life time of Mozart; those for the physically handicapped awaited the great Exhibition; day schools for the mentally handicapped and epileptic arrived with the motor car; while special provision for the delicate, maladjusted and speech impaired children is younger than living memory.

Even so the early institutions were nothing like the schools we know today and they were available only to the few. As with ordinary education, education for the handicapped began with individual and charitable enterprise. There followed in time the intervention of government, first to support voluntary effort and make good deficiencies through state provision and finally to create a national framework in which public and voluntary agencies could act in partnership to see that all children, whatever their disability received a suitable education.

The framework reached its present form only in this decade. The Handicapped Pupils and Special School Regulations, , listed ten categories of pupils needing to attend special schools.

Another , children with learning difficulties were being educated in mainstream classes, but with little help. In September the first Committee of Enquiry to be set up in Britain began its review of the educational provision for all children with disabilities and special educational needs and in the Warnock Commission presented its report. Although Armstrong suggests that there were tensions and contradictions developing in special education even before the Education Act, it is true to say that until the last 20 years of the twentieth century, special education was largely neglected and marginalised at national policy level Bines The Committee, chaired by Mary Warnock, was to review the provision for children with disabilities in response to growing criticism of the Education Act.

In , the Committee issued their findings on the educational provision for children with special educational needs DES , the terms of which were to form the basis of the Education Act. Since then, successive governments have gradually increased the number of policy initiatives which support the inclusion of all children into mainstream educational institutions at all levels. This marked a move away from segregated provision for children with special needs even before the Warnock Report Fulcher 34 Contradictions of principle Education was seen as a journey on which all children should set out.

Some children would need considerable support and might not get as far along the road as others but that should not prevent them from embarking on the journey. The Report stated that up to 18 per cent of children would have special educational needs at some time during their school life. A further 2 per cent of children would have more serious and long-term special educational needs and would need support for most, if not all, of their school life. Such support might come from segregated special provision. The medical model places responsibility, and often blame, firmly on individuals or their families.

In , Tomlinson published an alternative theoretical perspective of special educational needs and disability, which sought to explore the role of external factors in the construction of SEN Tomlinson This is explored in more detail in Chapter 3. The Warnock Report did not directly challenge the medical discourse on disability Fulcher , but it did offer a framework from which future policies might be developed.

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While not claiming to espouse complete inclusion, it offered support for the notion of inclusion by encouraging the idea that, wherever possible, children should be educated along with their peers. The Warnock Committee recommended the abolition of the old categories of disability and replaced them with a more 35 Mother-Teachers: Insights into Inclusion generic concept of SEN that laid emphasis on educational criteria, although it was still based on the idea that the fault or deficit lay with the child rather than the system.

The Warnock Report also recommended that parents be considered as full partners with the range of professionals involved in the assessment process. Although Mary Warnock later denied that the Report was recommending inclusion per se, the structures set up through the Education Act encouraged many parents to seek financial support through the system of Statementing for their children to be educated in mainstream schools and classrooms.

The Education Act, which implemented many of the recommendations of the Warnock Report, left the financial responsibility for special educational needs with LEAs. The Statement was a declaration of the educational needs of the child, which once specified must be met by the LEA and the school and financed accordingly. For both pupils and schools, the Statement was a way of assuring funding, the idea being that pupils took their Statements with them if they moved around the country, thus ensuring continuity of provision.

Parents who felt that their child had been wrongly assessed by the process could appeal to a Special Educational Needs Tribunal, which could decide not only the level of support but also the nature of the schooling, i. However, the staged provision of SEN and the linking of resources to the acquisition of a Statement led to an increase in the number of Statements and a corresponding increased demand on SEN budgets in most LEAs.

In reality this did little to improve the interaction or the relationship between mainstream and special provision Bines , for LEAs were very reluctant to put funding into mainstream schools when they were already funding places in special schools. It was envisaged that policies of inclusion would be set against a reduction in the number of special schools Baker Many special schools have felt threatened by 36 Research indicates that inclusion has become the norm in primary schools ibid. A significant number of these teachers felt that more children should be in segregated provision.

Changes in recent legislation make clear the policy support for children with SEN and disabilities in mainstream schools e. But there are serious concerns among many teachers about their own ability to deal adequately with inclusion Croll and Moses , Birkett , Clough b especially within the present competitive market ethos. Criticism of the Warnock Report A number of criticisms have been levelled against the Warnock Report. In reality there has been no significant reduction in the number of special schools, although there are regional differences with some authorities, such as the London Borough of Newham, closing all special schools within the borough.

Correspondingly, there has been no significant demand for places in mainstream schools Croll and Moses Yet the Conservative government set aside no extra resources for the implementation of the Education Act. Eighteen years later, she reflected on the Report ibid.

No one within the management of a school will be willing to allow money to be spent on anything but that which will enhance the market-value of the school. She argues that not only could LEAs avoid specifying need but, by the issuing of Statements, other children were deprived of resources. As resources became less plentiful so parents became more concerned about ensuring that their own children received adequate support through the due processes of law Wedell et al.

The diversity of provision added to the developing tension and struggle at the local level, with some LEAs giving inadequate information to parents while some withheld relevant information ibid. For many professionals involved in the process, such as the educational psychologists, this was a time of great stress and many found themselves under considerable pressure from LEAs. But the number of Statements rose steadily up to the end of the last century; the proportion of pupils with Statements rose between and from 1.

There is now an expectation that: The special educational needs of the great majority of children should be met effectively within mainstream settings through Early Years and Early Years Action Plus or School Action and School Action Plus without the local education authority needing to make a statutory assessment.

However, funding for SEN remains a somewhat contentious issue. There was some opposition from parents at the earlier suggestion that Statements could be removed completely. They feared that this would mean less funding being safeguarded for SEN in schools. The delegation of budgets to schools LMS brought with it some extra funding for schools although it reduced the funding available for delegation by the LEA Lunt and Evans , Bines It also means that SEN is competing for funding with many other areas of the curriculum within schools. Vocal, parental advocacy can have a profound effect on the allocation of scarce resources ibid.

But as I argued in the opening chapter, competition and inequity of provision add considerably to the pressure on professionals working with children with SEN. It remains to be seen how the latest policy document from the Department for Education and Skills DfES will impact on the priorities of schools and the allocation of resources. We await the outcome with interest. Educational inclusion: developing tensions and conflicts Inclusion is most usefully regarded as a process rather than an event Booth et al.

But there are concerns as to whether present strategies for improving school effectiveness are supportive of inclusion Slee et al. A series of policy documents e. Resources have to be secured and in the present educational climate there are no guarantees that these will go towards implementing policies of inclusion.

Within such a context, the struggle to secure resources and the gradual erosion of teaching flexibility will not help the implementation of inclusive policies. It was warmly received Birkett by many groups fighting for the inclusion of children with SEN.

Teachers and Parents Working Together to Support Inclusion

Many teachers still feel that they need further training to deal adequately with issues of inclusion ibid. Despite the fact that the Disability Discrimination Act included training for business, the new Act: 41 Mother-Teachers: Insights into Inclusion has no staff training that goes along with it. They create a wariness of taking children with disabilities. There is also commitment to improving specialist advice and support for schools. How far this will go to addressing the concerns of teachers in mainstream schools, particularly secondary schools, remains to be seen.

The tension between a market ethos and policies that purport to promote the inclusion of all pupils is not conducive to the kind of culture which supports real inclusion and, despite the rhetoric, schools may increasingly lack the flexibility to create cultures that can Bines As I have already noted, many teachers feel that government policies of inclusion in the general context of an education market are contradictory Birkett , creating conflict in many schools.

Now that SEN has been brought into the same budgetary framework, curriculum and assessment, and market forces as mainstream schools, there are many who maintain that children who experience learning difficulties will still be marginalised e. Gewirtz et al. The joint effect of the education market and the difficulties experienced by many schools in meeting the demands of new policy initiatives in inclusion and SEN has led to a continuation of the demand for Statements and resources by parents, and no significant decrease in segregation Bines The main concerns of advocates of inclusion centre around two issues.

Firstly, how mainstream schools might change to provide for a broader range of educational needs and, secondly, how all teachers can be supported to accept responsibility for all children when for many teachers these tensions and conflicts have caused considerable pressure and stress. It is argued that the range of centrally generated 42 Contradictions of principle policy initiatives has been particularly severe for teachers and SENCOs working within special and inclusive education Davies et al. Davies et al. There is a belief that teachers find central policies remote with little real impact on their everyday teaching and learning Archbald and Porter But there seems little doubt that the impact of central policies can be plainly heard in the voices of teachers who find the tensions between the two major policy initiatives extremely difficult to manage.

Contradictions of principle? Reflections This chapter has considered the two main strands of education policy since the early s. It has highlighted the developing tensions for teachers, especially SENCOs, and for parents of children with SEN around issues related to the inclusion of these children into mainstream schools within the context of a quasi-market in education.

While policies of inclusion were intended to be implemented in the 43 Mother-Teachers: Insights into Inclusion light of a reduction in the number of special school places, there is no evidence that this is happening on a national scale. Rather, there is a suggestion that the nature of the SEN of children attending special schools is changing, with those who present challenging behaviour being increasingly likely to be excluded from mainstream settings.

Billington argues that: power relations are reproduced within everyday acts and interactions, no matter how inconsequential they may seem, and that they can be reproduced also, not only within the more clearly recognizable professional processes and practices for example, such as those performed by teachers, psychologists and social workers but also in all of the social relations which are generated by forms of institution and government.

And spent the time in a particular way. We think they have a plan, and that it has to do with time. A number of discourses are examined: SEN and disability; motherhood; teachers, especially those working with children with SEN; and inclusion. The chapter concludes with a brief consideration of how feminist research can offer insights into the experiences of individuals, particularly in marginalised groups, through methodologies such as narrative.

Introduction How far is there any scope for mothers to build on their privately based experiences to resist dominant discourses and organisational imperatives around the schooling of their children? Ribbens McCarthy 2 Few of us would deny the very close relationship between our public and our private lives.

Such research e. Sikes , David considers the role of women as mothers, workers and professionals. Capitalism and the industrial revolution changed the nature of social relations and prioritised the public rather than the private domain. The separation of the worlds of work and the home placed men firmly in the former and women in the latter. These expert discourses effectively silenced the voices of women even in what were perceived to be the traditional areas of concern for women such as motherhood and childcare. The role of women as mothers and the nature and meaning of motherhood are also being challenged.

Motherhood is changing from what was previously felt to be a private and personal responsibility to a more public and political responsibility, and the responsibilities of motherhood are becoming more complex. Through this medical-expert model, the experiences of women are relegated almost to folklore and legend and therefore rendered powerless. The boundaries between expert knowledge and personal experience are perceived by feminist writers to be artificial and constructed.

School is perceived as such a boundary; a social setting which represents the division between public and private, the professional and the personal and as such can be regarded as a contested terrain David a. Within these divisions, the knowledge of the professional is given more weight than the experience of the individual. While the growth of feminist research has led to the growth of challenges to dominant discourses in a number of areas in relation to the lives of the mother-teachers, first it is important to consider how dominant discourses appear to construct their lives.

Such dominant constructions of the world often rely on the division between public construction and private reality. These dominant discourses suggest a commonality of experience which may be very different from the lived experience of individuals. It idealises women as carers, and nurtures and supports the dominant discourses on mothering and motherhood which conceptualise women as strong in the face of adversity, emotionally resilient ibid. The discourse of care emerges in the area of SEN and disability in a number of ways.

These complexities are now considered more closely as they form an important context for the stories. Many children with disabilities do not have any special educational needs. Access may be their main concern. On the other hand many children defined as having SEN may have no physical impairment. In considering SEN and disability together, I acknowledge the danger of reductionism, but for the purposes of this book they will be considered together within the developing discourse of inclusion.

Before many children were confined in long-stay hospitals with no access or right to education. Their lives were controlled through doctors and the Department of Health. While the Warnock Report DES was still based on a discourse of individual needs rather than of rights and entitlements, the work of Tomlinson was to prove a watershed in the development of a different discourse on special educational needs. Tomlinson argued that SEN and disability were social constructions and that the deficit lay not with the individual but with society.

This language of persuasion can make it more difficult for some groups, such as working-class parents, to negotiate with professionals Bagley and Woods , Hanafin and Lynch The whole process of providing a Statement of Special Educational Need perpetuates the medical model. Moves to reduce Statementing through School Action and School Action Plus along with Early Years Action and Action Plus DfES place more emphasis on school interventions, but the demand from parents to secure scarce resources through the provision of a formal Statement may undermine these processes.

Physical needs are often seen as the most important consideration in determining the educational placement, and meeting medical or physical requirements remains a frequently cited reason for not allocating a place in a mainstream school. The prescription of methylphenidate Ritalin to children diagnosed as suffering from Attention Deficit 1 Fulcher 25 offers five discourses on disability — the medical, charity, lay, rights and a corporate approach — which commodifies disability and SEN.

Oliver a, Armstrong and Barton , Tomlinson Mother-Teachers: Insights into Inclusion Hyperactivity Disorder ADHD is a significant example of the intervention of medical experts in the education of children perceived as having a very particular learning difficulty Norris and Lloyd The use of a class A drug with young children is highly controversial, and yet there is considerable evidence of its growing use in both Britain and the United States.

Between and , in England alone, there was a 2, per cent increase in the number of prescriptions for methylphenidate and the figures suggest a continuing, strong upward trend ibid. While there is documentary support for the involvement of parents in the process DES , DfEE b, a, DfES , in reality the experts still have considerable responsibility for the decisions.

The birth of such a child, or the discovery of learning difficulties, is often regarded as their personal tragedy, the occasion for sympathy for parents as indeed a number of the stories in this book suggest e.

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The education and welfare of children with disabilities and learning difficulties has largely been regarded as a matter of private concern and charitable interest. Until well into the s there were few statistics available about these children and their families Glendinning , Beresford , Read However, in the latter half of the twentieth century media interest in the scandal of thalidomide, the issues over vaccine damage and the revelation of the appalling 50 Discourses and challenges conditions in some long-stay hospitals for disabled children increased the awareness of the problems of these children and their families Read The literature, which began to grow in the s, was written largely by experts about the children and their families from a professional perspective.

Chapter 6 tells the story of Truda, who adopted her son John. Mothers who could cope with their disabled children were open to criticism every bit as much as those who felt that they were unable to cope. The early literature has been much criticised, with critics claiming that it created misconceptions about the lives of these children and their families which were then adopted by the experts e. Glendinning , Read , Roll-Petterson The story of Sonia Chapter 4 offers some interesting insights which challenge such misconceptions.

Perceived as a commodity by government, professionals and parents alike in the struggle to gain resources amidst an increasingly competitive state system, the discourse of SEN forms a significant part of the contextual setting for the mother-teachers. While guilt and blame are constructed as a significant part of the discourse for the families and particularly the mothers, they also appear in the dominant and public discourses surrounding the construction of mothering and motherhood.

There may be some differences in the upbringing of disabled children and non-disabled children, but there are also many commonalties in both the patterns of mothering and the ways of seeing mothers Read Discourses of motherhood The history of motherhood is directly connected with the history of women and with women being seen to have the sole responsibility for the care of children Oakley Until then mothers were considered from the point of view of the child Kaplan The legacy of Freud has been substantial in the development of these discourses Mitchell , Sayers , Chodorow Through literature and popular culture, Kaplan identifies three main representations of mothers: the self-sacrificing, saintly carer in the house; the selfish, over-indulgent woman; and the sinister, evil, allpossessing monster.

This illustrates just some of the complexity and contradictory nature of the discourses on mothering and motherhood, which either idealise the mother for her selfless service to, and nurturing of, her family, or attack her for contributing to the ills of both the individual and the society Glenn Women have been under considerable pressure to become mothers and in many cultures it is the only way for women to gain status.

The dominant model of 53 Mother-Teachers: Insights into Inclusion motherhood prioritises the white, Anglo-American middle-class model Collins , and appears to date back to the white bourgeoisie in Western Europe and North America towards the end of the eighteenth century. Industrialisation took production out of the home and into factories leaving the home as the private, less important sphere where women and children were based. For workingclass women, the separation of home and production meant that work had to be found outside the home, and children had to be left with either an older child or an older family member.

For Victorian middleclass women, the notion of working outside the home was unthinkable unless they were impoverished and even then there were only certain occupations considered suitable, such as governess or companion.

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Mother-Teachers: Insights on Inclusion Mother-Teachers: Insights on Inclusion
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Mother-Teachers: Insights on Inclusion Mother-Teachers: Insights on Inclusion
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