Teachers and classrooms: blaming inclusion


2:28 pm - October 29th 2009

by Neil Robertson    


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When set against the context of the number of children you’ll teach throughout a school year, incidents of violent, abusive or threatening behaviour are actually quite rare. The occasions when a pupil dreams up allegations of abuse by a teacher are rarer still, and the occasions when those false allegations result in disciplinary action or a criminal conviction are even more infrequent.

That said, everyone’s heard at least one horror story about a teacher who’s been the victim to a malicious allegation. It does happen, and more can be done at school, local authority & central government level to ensure that good and safe teachers are protected from career-destroying fairy tales. Ending the atrocious policy of isolating accused teachers from contact with their colleagues would be a good place to start.

So it’s not like I’m ambivelent to or dismissive of a problem which does prey on a lot of teachers’ minds, and the general thrust of Jenni Russell’s piece on the topic is generally correct. Still, it is a Jenni Russell piece, and so every article must contain at least one moment of eye-watering idiocy:

Classrooms are becoming more difficult to manage because the policy of inclusion means that children with emotional, mental or physical difficulties are being put into mainstream schools without the extra support they need to cope.

Whether Russell is basing this on any actual evidence is unclear, but unlikely.

For a start, when the DCSF asked researchers to look into the outcomes of inclusion (pdf), they found no evidence – none – of any relationship between inclusion policies and educational attainment. This means that whilst inclusion does not positively affect levels of achievement in a school, nor does it adversely affect it.

I’m also at a loss to understand what ‘extra support’ for support children with social, emotional & behavioural difficulties teachers are being deprived of. Every school in the country has someone responsible for organising provision for children with special educational needs, and they will often work with pupils, teachers, parents, social workers & psychologists to help each child achieve their best level of learning. Could there be more support? Sure, but we’d all have to open our wallets a bit more.

Admittedly, what we have now is an imperfect situation; it’s always going to be imperfect when you have finite resources but an infinite number of potential problems. But I think it’s worth remembering where we were before the policy of inclusion, which Russell blames for getting ‘violent’ teachers sacked.

Before the journey towards integration and inclusion, most children with special educational needs were educated separately and as a result suffered castigation and humiliation. This meant that kids without English as a first language wouldn’t interact with their English speaking peers; that vulnerable kids would grow up lacking the confidence to fully participate in society; that children with mild disabilities would be mercilessly taunted as ’spackers’.

If Russell wants to reverse this policy, shes’s welcome to go & vote for whoever will promise to do just that (the boys in blue might be a good bet). But the least she could do is be a bit more honest about what inclusion is, what it does, and that ending it won’t make teachers, pupils or the wider society any better off.

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About the author
Neil Robertson is a regular contributor to Liberal Conspiracy. He was born in Barnsley in 1984, and through a mixture of good luck and circumstance he ended up passing through Cambridge, Sheffield and Coventry before finally landing in London, where he works in education. His writing often focuses on social policy or international relations, because that's what all the Cool Kids write about. He mostly blogs at: The Bleeding Heart Show.
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Reader comments


1. John Meredith

I would be more concerned on the negative effects of inclusion policies on children with SEN. There doesn’t seem to be significant effects on educational achievement, but there does (I think) seem to be some negative effect on their social development which can be very difficult for this group.

As an engineer you would no doubt be annoyed if I spouted off on a technical subject of which I had completely no idea nor experience. So pin back your ears.

I work in education. My wife works in education. I have colleagues in maybe 30 different schools up and down the country, in a range of schools in a range of areas. So let me tell you this with the evidence of experience.

You’re talking absolute bollocks.

“Classrooms are becoming more difficult to manage because the policy of inclusion means that children with emotional, mental or physical difficulties are being put into mainstream schools without the extra support they need to cope.”

Indisputable. Spot-on. FACT.

Stick to what you know, because you plainly know nothing about this. (And my evidence for that is your naive, almost angelic belief in the accuracy of some random DCFS statistics. Evidence my arse).

I’ve been teaching for 15 years now, primary through to adult in all settings from schools to secure units, prisons, PRUs, you name it, I’ve been there and al across the UK.

I’m a big fan of inclusion, it stops hard to help young people being discarded and it also helps them improve their behaviour or learning, through positive peer pressure. It also builds tolerance and defeats ignorance.

But school doesn’t suit everyone and what happens in modern schooling is that yes, everyone is included but the hard to help kids are streamed off into reduced timetable, vocational training, college based learning, work experience and have a lot of resources thrown at them; resources they deserve but sometimes they get that because they are so much of a problem in school, whereas more young people would benefit from a varied education program that these hard to help young people get.

I suppose that is a separate debate, one thing though, inclusion isn’t easy, it means that the class sometimes operates at the rate of the ‘worst’ pupil, which is always the way but is relative to the make-up of the class, it also puts a lot of pressure on staff to manage the inclusion well.

What I’m seeing more of is the harder to help kids still taking part in the class but having their own one-to-one worker (in some cases more than one) to give them the focused support they need so that the teacher can get on dealing with the rest of the class.

With reference to Stepney and the fact I am a teacher so can debate this with you on your rules of combat, I think you’re isolating a few points and not taking on board the entire concept of what is being said.

There are two separate points here, with proper support inclusion works, even without proper support, depending upon the skill of the teacher and the working environment of the school, it works.

But as I said above, it is hard but the benefit is that we have a more inclusive school environment rather than streaming off kids into special schools, behavioural units or just letting them drop through the net as they used to do all the time.

Can I also make clear that in most serious cases, the child or young person in question does indeed end up in a dedicated learning environment suitable for their abilities and I am not against special skills for students with serious mental and physical difficulties as they have very unique needs but what many of these schools operate is a buddy scheme with another school so that both sets of pupils have contact with one another.

There’s research that inclusion doesn’t harm attainment?

I will look into it.

Nevertheless until I have looked into it, I will continue to believe the evidence of my own eyes, which shows me every day examples of the policy not working. Still I guess believing my own experience and the experience of literally every teacher I know must be “eye-watering idiocy” if there is an official report saying the problem doesn’t exist?

It’s sad to see a fellow teacher rail against inclusion, it disappoints me a great deal, you must be forgetting what happened to those before education made some efforts to be more inclusive and less divisive.

and the occasions when those false allegations result in disciplinary action or a criminal conviction are even more infrequent.

Sounds like one part of the problem…or do you mean of the teachers?

Perhaps Stepney or oldandrew or even DHG could tell us what does happen to pupils who make false allegations?

Ah, that didn’t take long, the report actually notes that:

“We found a very small and negative statistical relationship between the level of
inclusivity in a school and the attainments of its pupils. The possibility that this is
a causal relationship cannot entirely be ruled out, though this seems unlikely.”

So the report didn’t find *no* evidence of harm from inclusion, they just didn’t decide the evidence was enough to conclude that inclusion was definitely harmful.

Surely, this would normally be grounds for further research, not for jumping to the opposite conclusion?

cjcjcjcjcjcjc

They are as rare as hen’s teeth in my 15 years, the only allegations I knew of in my colleagues turned out to be true cases of abuses of the teacher/pupil relationship.

As for what happens to them, I haven’t encountered false allegation making so I can’t say but I can say it is so minor as to not be an issue in my opinion.

oldandrew: your own personal opinion and feelings on this are clouding the fact it is unlikely, which seems clear enough to me.

DHG I didn’t know you were a teacher – I thought you were an actor who sometimes worked with kids in that capacity?

I am an actor first and foremost but I am also a qualified teacher, not that I teach full time anymore due to acting commitments.

I have always been interested in working with children and started in schools as a volunteer (in a nursery/infants) aged 17 and it went on from there.

As an actor you need many strings to your bow, I’m also good at electrics if you need some re-wiring doing?

Inclusion of pupils with physical, cognitive or behavioural difficulties within mainstream schools can be effective and beneficial, but it is certainly not a panacea.

I have worked in special needs education for about 15 years (previously in mainstream secondary) and a significant part of my job is supporting mainstream schools with special needs pupils and also in supporting pupils from my own specialist school to integrate into mainstream schools. It can be effective, but it is not something which can be done wholesale.

In your penultimate paragraph you say that most children with special educational needs were educated separately and as a result suffered castigation and humiliation. I don’t follow your logic that gives us as a result

Children with special needs educated separately suffer no more, and probably less, humiliation than those in mainstream schools. Most mainstream pupils are accepting and supportive of pupils with special needs, but by no means all. This is particularly the case with pupils whose difficulties are not immediately apparent.

This meant that kids without English as a first language wouldn’t interact with their English speaking peers Why not? About 20% of my pupils do not have English as their first language but they interact perfectly well. There would be something seriously wrong with the school if they did not.

that vulnerable kids would grow up lacking the confidence to fully participate in society… Why? On what basis are you assuming that specialist schools do not equip pupils to participate in society, or that inclusion in mainstream would do it better. For some individuals, yes. For others, no. As DHG pointed out, schools can and do co-operate so that both options – and a mixture – are available.

14. Shatterface

“Classrooms are becoming more difficult to manage because the policy of inclusion means that children with emotional, mental or physical difficulties are being put into mainstream schools without the extra support they need to cope.”

Yes, it’s eye wateringly idiotic to think that children who might need extra support might, er, need extra support, just as it’s eye-wateringly idiotic for adults who need reasonable adjustments at work might need reasonable adjustments. Far better to wish the problem away. Why not double class sizes while we are at it?

Frankly this article looks like a Tory argument to cut extra funding.

And whatever the numbers of false allegations made against teachers, the fear of false allegation is very real and has severely limited physical interaction and extra-curricular activity.

“I would be more concerned on the negative effects of inclusion policies on children with SEN”

I am concerned by the effects of blanket inclusion on children with SEN and on their teachers. Teaching should be a joyful job, it should be about supporting learning of children who have retained their natural love of knowledge and development. Instead it’s often about forcing those who prefer not to learn in that particular environment in that particular way.

I work in a special school, the pupils come to us because they have “failed” in mainstream. When given a “somewhat” more natural social and learning environment ie less children in classrooms and playgrounds they thrive by comarison to the descriptions of how they did in previous schools.

Including all children in our society would be a fine aim. Putting them all in schools without careful thought about the effect of the general school system on individual children is not inclusion. It’s excluding them all in the same place.

If we must use schools to educate children we need to look at individual children’s needs and provide a system that allows teachers to support every child’s learning.

My knowledge is specific, my experience is of working with many children for whom the general school system has not been suitable. I know others who seem to have thrived on it.

My own children have a choice, they have chosen not to go to school and are “educated otherwise”. Wish there was a better term, it’s simply learning and living really. In my opinion this is real inclusion, they spend their days included in the world. Some days they wish there were more other children in that world between the hours of 9 and 3, they spend time with other Home Ed kids but the world can be a bit spooky between those hours when most of the children are missing. I know some adults feel it’s a safer place between those hours when the children are safely in school, sad that though isn’t it?

I used to think inclusion should be about all kids going to the same school and having their learning and social needs met there. I know now that that is just not possible and we need to look at more creative, or maybe less creative ways, to educate children. Maybe school’s a bit complicated? certainly 6+ hours a day for 14+ years is a long time out of anyone’s life, particularly when we humans are naturally driven to learn anyway.

Is it about including all children or is it about finding the most convenient way to occupy the kids while the adults get on with living?

“oldandrew: your own personal opinion and feelings on this are clouding the fact it is unlikely, which seems clear enough to me.”

The point is that this was (to anybody familiar with statistical methods) a bizarre and perverse claim by the authors which flew in the face of their own evidence. This sort of thing is not unusual when governments commission reports. But it is, to say the least, not grounds for taking those claims to be any kind of evidence for anything, least of all ignoring the evidence of our own eyes.

For anybody who is not familiar with the Special Needs racket, I have written about it here:

http://teachingbattleground.wordpress.com/2007/06/10/not-so-special-needs/

and here:

http://teachingbattleground.wordpress.com/2008/10/25/the-blameless-part-3-the-afflicted/

Inclusion does not work. It is a money saving scheme that has seen behaviour get significantly worse and those with genuine disabilities lose out.

With regard to false allegations, I agree that they are not usually taken seriously, but malicious complaints of one sort or another are pretty commonplace.

oldandrew:

Just an observation but you remind me of that bitter, angry brand of teacher I meet, not that often anymore but you seem to have many of the characteristics and your ‘analysis’ reflects that.

“Just an observation but you remind me of that bitter, angry brand of teacher I meet”

Of course he’s angry. He’s spending a large chunk of his time trying to impart knowledge in a system designed largely around making that at most an optional extra (if not an outright impossibility).

And he’s not an actor/electrician…!

John:

Again, a falsehood, lots of teachers manage it, very well indeed and knowledge, you may be shocked to know, is not an optional extra.

cjcjcjcjc:

Be quiet you tit and do something useful.

“Just an observation…”

I think you mean “just an ad hominem attack”. I live every day of my working life with the visible failure of the policy of inclusion. That means that, of course, anyone can accuse me of not being objective, or of having a vested interest in ending the disaster. But I am hardly going out on a limb with what I am saying. It really, and obviously, hasn’t worked and if all you’ve got left to defend your position are ad hominems then I think even you must, at some level, know that it hasn’t worked.

oldandrew:

No, not ad hominem, a comment based on how your words come across to me and me alone.

And the fact I’ve heard similar things from the mouths of teachers that are cynical, are disaffected and thus aren’t much good at their jobs anymore.

My experience is exactly the opposite, DHG. The teachers who aren’t much good at their job are the ones who obsessively excuse and/or appease misbehaviour and disruption. The ones who want to teach and are angry eventually manage to get some teaching done. The ones who have given up, well, that’s sad, but clearly not the case here.

No teacher who excuses or appeasing mis behaving is much good at their job, neither is one who moans endlessly and has let personal cynicism come above teaching.

“No, not ad hominem,”

It clearly is an ad hominem. It is an argument about why I hold my views, rather than an argument about whether my views are right or not.

You clearly got nothing worth saying about what is actually happening in schools, and all you’ve got left is the claim that anybody who accurately describes what is going on is cynical, disaffected and incompetent. It’s a pretty common tactic for people who want to ignore a problem, (remember John Major complaining about “dismal johnnies”?) but it is no argument. I suppose I could let you know all the things I’m positive about, and all the things that indicate that I am rather good at my job, but my experience is that it is not worth taking personal attacks that seriously. Do you have anything to say about the issue rather than just fantasising about the shortcomings of the people who disagree with you?

So the report didn’t find *no* evidence of harm from inclusion, they just didn’t decide the evidence was enough to conclude that inclusion was definitely harmful.

For reason which a given in the report, if you don’t cherry pick your quotations:

We found a very small and negative statistical relationship between the level of
inclusivity in a school and the attainments of its pupils. The possibility that this is
a causal relationship cannot entirely be ruled out, though this seems unlikely.

There are four reasons for this:

• There is considerable variation in the performance of schools with similar levels
of inclusivity, suggesting that school level factors are more important than
levels of inclusivity per se.

• The small negative relationship between inclusion and school performance can
be explained by the fact that, on our definition, schools with higher levels of
inclusion tend to be schools serving more disadvantaged – and hence lower attaining – populations.

The case studies suggest that highly-inclusive schools tend to manage inclusion
in broadly similar ways which seem likely to minimise any impact inclusion
might have on attainment. Both higher and lower performing schools operate a
similar model of provision.

• Although there are observable differences between highly-inclusive schools
with different levels of performance, these are complicated by broad similarities
between schools and considerable variation within schools. Moreover, they
seem to relate to factors (resourcing issues, skill in responding to the
achievement agenda, detailed implementation of the inclusion model) which are
not directly attributable to the level of inclusivity in the school.

“For reason which a given in the report, if you don’t cherry pick your quotations:”

Eh?

You appear to have used the same quotation I did, so it is hard to see how I could be cherry-picking.

Or do you think the more detailed reasons challenges what I said? It is a list of reasons why the clear statistical evidence of a connection between greater inclusivity and lower attainment *might* have an explanation other than inclusion directly lowering attainment. It is the kind of warning that always applies when dealing with correlation evidence. It is not grounds for saying inclusion *doesn’t* lower attainment only for saying that we should still consider the possibility that it might not.

It is almost a case study in the misuse of statistics. We have statistical evidence of inclusion lowering attainment. The (usual) statement that this evidence might have another explanation has then been overstated in the executive summary so that it sounds more like “we have not found evidence of a relationship ” rather than “don’t read too much into our evidence of a relationship”. This in turn has then been interpreted (by the writer of the blog entry) as meaning “there is no evidence of a relationship” which in turn has been taken to indicate “there is no relationship”.

Anyone see the “Yes Minister” episode about doing this with inconvenient research?

‘Ello,

Some interesting comments here, and I regret that I don’t have the time to contribute as much to this thread as I would’ve liked. However, I do want to try to clear up the apparent misunderstanding about this DFCS study, as the Executive Summary does give the appearance of saying two different things.

Apologies for the length of this, but I’ve emboldened the bits which I think are most significant, so you can always scroll down.

This is from the business end of the report, page 46:

First, the effect is small in relation to the range of points available at each key stage. For instance, the 0.03 points ‘effect’ of inclusivity at KS1 has to be set in the context of the 25 points available and the national mean APS in 2002 of 15.5. Likewise, the 0.53 ‘effect’ at KS4 has to be set against the 64 points available (when only the pupil’s best 8 results are taken into account) and the national mean APS of 35.63.

Second, the effect is also small in relation to the size of schools’ SEN populations. For instance, at key stage 1, every additional 10% of pupils with high levels of SEN in a school population is associated with average attainment scores which are 0.3 points lower. In fact 10% is a large difference in most primary schools. In schools with 300 pupils, for instance, it represents a difference in the population with SEN at School Action Plus or above of 30 pupils. If the difference were a more modest 2% – equating to 6 pupils at School Action Plus or above – the associated difference in attainment would be 0.06 points.

Third and most significant, as we pointed out earlier, the presence of this ‘effect’ cannot be taken to indicate a causal relationship. Pupils with relatively high levels of SEN may in some way ‘drag down’ the attainments of other pupils. However, it is equally likely that schools which identify high proportions of their population as having SEN also have generally low-attaining populations. For instance, if we imagine two 300-strong primary schools, one of which has 10 pupils at School Action Plus or above and the other of which has 40, we might not normally expect that their populations would be identical in every other respect.

Then there’s this, at page 50:

On the other hand, the relationship between inclusivity and attainment is not evident at LEA level, is very small at school level, is probably not causal and is highly variable between schools. Moreover, our definition of inclusivity relates to the presence of pupils with SEN who have long been in mainstream schools as much as (if not more than) to pupils who have more recently been placed in the mainstream under LEA and school ‘inclusion’ policies. If, therefore, the policy of inclusion is pursued for other reasons than its galvanising effects on overall attainment – for instance, on grounds of rights and entitlements, of benefit to the pupils directly involved, or of creating a more cohesive society – then there is nothing in our findings so far to suggest that the policy should be changed or abandoned.

In hindsight, I should’ve been more explicit to say, as this research does, that a negative causal link between inclusion & whole school attainment remains unproven. I should write slower.

Sorry I don’t have time to add much else tonight, but I’ll read the rest of the thread with interest.

I’m not saying that the reports authors aren’t entitled to caution people against reading too much into their own evidence (although it is hard to imagine they would have had the effect been in the opposite direction) but when an effect is measured it would be normal to research it in more detail, to find out what it means in practice, and whether the relationship was causal or not.

The authors have clearly departed from this. They have declared that the most obvious interpretation of their results is “unlikely” on purely speculative grounds and undermined their own chosen measure of attainment without suggesting another measure of attainment. It is staggering that a 0.53 change in aggregate KS4 point score can be dismissed. If it was your child who narrowly missed out on grade C’s in both Maths and English then the fact that this reflects a small change in point scores is neither here nor there. Marginal changes in educational attainment can make a significant difference in life chances.

Beyond that, everything that happens in education remains “unproven”; this is the nature of things in social science research. However, if we had to answer the question as to whether inclusion is more likely to be harmful than harmless then the evidence is that it is more likely to be harmful and saying “well we don’t think the damage it does is, on average, great” or “there may be another explanation for the harm it seems to be causing” is a pretty poor justification for pursuing a policy which common sense, and every day experience, already gives us every reason to reject. And please remember, you weren’t just mentioning the research in passing, you were suggesting that it was so overwhelming that it was “eye-watering stupidity” not to ignore what thousands of us get to see with our own eyes every working day.

Interesting piece. Couple of things:

“When set against the context of the number of children you’ll teach throughout a school year, incidents of violent, abusive or threatening behaviour are actually quite rare.”

True – and I agree with the thrust of your point here – but bear in mind that these tend to be concentrated in certain schools and certain classes. Rare for most – a frequent experience for some. Depends where you are.

More generally, I suspect that the reason why a number of people have taken issue with your post is that you are defining ‘inclusion’ far too narrowly. Your post – and the pdf you link – seems to be referring mainly to the mainstreaming of SEN pupils. But the policy of inclusion also involves mainstreaming those who have no specific learning difficulty nor physical disability but who would have in the past found themselves in a ‘special school’ because of their behaviour. In addition, it has meant here a limit to the internal mechanisms to manage this, such as transfer to another school and temporary exclusion. The net result is that schools manage this sort of situation – usually – by a process of rather informal exclusion internally. I don’t doubt it makes little impact on the aggregate exam performance of any given school but it does not follow that it is therefore a satisfactory situation. I think you’ll find most of us who work with it on a daily basis would argue that it isn’t.

Fascinating thread.

Remember Ruth Kelly pulling one of her kids from a state school to send him to an expensive private institution specializing in kids with learning difficulties?

That school specialises in getting such kids to meet the entrance requirements of various public schools. It does it simply by giving the kids a lot of individual focus, and gearing them up for the one big hurdle they need to jump. Once they’re in, the public schools concerned cope, on an inclusive basis, but then, and here’s the thing … they have the option of saying “No, it hasn’t worked, take him away” if the kid really is a problem for the rest of the class. It’s up to the staff to make that call.

So two issues: First, maybe we should give the teachers more autonomy in deciding each case. Second, it’s worth noting that the really high flying schools, like the one Kelly attended herself, the ones that tolerate no distraction at all from the knowledge transmission lark, just aren’t accessible to kids with special needs, even to those with this kind of specialist backing. Perhaps there ought to be at least some state funded schools with a similar approach

Shuggy,

More generally, I suspect that the reason why a number of people have taken issue with your post is that you are defining ‘inclusion’ far too narrowly. Your post – and the pdf you link – seems to be referring mainly to the mainstreaming of SEN pupils. But the policy of inclusion also involves mainstreaming those who have no specific learning difficulty nor physical disability but who would have in the past found themselves in a ’special school’ because of their behaviour.

Yes, thanks for pointing that out, and you’re absolutely right. Working with SEN pupils has been such a big part of my life for the past year or so that it’s consumed much of my work and a lot of my reading, and I can see how that’s narrowed my focus somewhat.

There’ll never be full inclusion and nor should there be; there should always be a place for good schools with expertise in handling severe physical disabilities or behavioural problems (I know of one school which specialises in the latter, and what they do could never be adopted within a mainstream environment). It’s also true that there are problems in the categorisation & identification of SEN which need a lot of work.

So yes, there may be some arguing at cross purposes here. I’m quite protective of inclusion because my background in SEN has made me evangelical about what good support can do, whilst others are more wary for those reasons you spell out.

DHG

You seem to be the one competent teacher who has deigned to comment either here or on the Jenni Russell thread. Most of the others seem to be backing her article which, by your logic, makes them cynical and inept. Why do you suppose your inspirational and highly professional colleagues have chosen to stay silent on this issue? Maybe they’re all busy marking things and planning exciting inclusive lessons?

It’s a shame you don’t teach full time btw. The acting and electrical world’s gain is our childrens’ loss. How’s the acting going, incidentally?..should I take the fact that I’ve never heard of you as some kind of indication in that respect, or are you doing ground breaking, experimental underground stuff that only the truly avant garde and talented could hope to get away with? Are you a qualified electrician btw..should you really be touting for work on here? I’m sure you’d be horrified to find that someone was working in a school without a current CRB…you liberal types generally get quite exercised about that kind of stuff don’t you…claim all the hype is just the Daily Mail making a fuss about nothing.

Do you have a CRB clearance? Oh..and when did you last teach ..and what do you teach..I bet it’s something with a lot of logic involved..you’ve got a real talent in that area haven’t you…a sort of thespian Aristotle with a social conscience…you’re great DHG…I hope my kids turn out just like you…a real renaissance geezer with a heart of gold..give yourself a pat on the head.

By removing the funding for SEN schools, how are comprehensives going to compete with grammar and public schools? How can a teacher cope with teaching calculus to a 14 year old while trying to teach someone who struggles with basic arithmetic ? It seems to me we require teachers not only to be scholars but also social workers, psychologists, police officers and in loco parentis is becoming a defacto parent.

I must say, there’s just been a Jerry Springer-like debate on Hagley Road on the same issue, and looking at how it’s going here I am with oldandrew all the way. To sneer, like Daniel HG is frankly doing here, at people who had problems at work by saying or implying that they’re “bitter” or “not good at their job (anymore)” is actually a nasty way of debating.

And sorry Daniel for this, you know I like you. But not on this topic ;-).

37. i'm so cool

# To sneer, like Daniel HG is frankly doing here, at people who had problems at work by saying or implying that they’re “bitter” or “not good at their job (anymore)” is actually a nasty way of debating.#

Indeed. And also premised on the fact that he seems to believe he is a competent teacher while any who complain that there is a problem are not. Given his contemptuous attitude towards other people, I find it very difficult to believe he’s even close to being a competent teacher; although his teaching experience and credentials seems a little vague; all he has done is to hint that he has taught everywhere and anywhere across all age groups for years…despite being an actor and electrician to boot.

To have encountered such unalloyed success in his teaching career, he must have developed a rare ability, whereby he can keep his dismissive and condescending attitude in check until he encounters an adult who falls into the “predicable Mail reader” demographic, whereupon he blasts them with both barrels with the full force of his playground debating skills. This I find just a little unlikely and, personally, I detect a faint aroma of bullshit when studying his offerings. I think at best he represents one of those self-deluding “right-on, doin’ it for the kids…knowledge is power man” types so transparent to and roundly despised by kids and so loved by themselves and at worst…a complete fantasist.

#And sorry Daniel for this, you know I like you. But not on this topic#

Yeah, sorry Daniel, you know I don’t believe a word you write. Especially on this topic.;)

“To sneer, like Daniel HG is frankly doing here, at people who had problems at work”

Let’s be clear, he is not sneering at me for *having* problems, he is sneering at me for daring to mention that problems exist. I’m not trying to argue that my working life is terrible; I’m arguing that children are being failed. It is that, rather than any problems of my own, that concerns me and it scares me stupid that there are people who want to conceal the problem, and are actively hostile and insulting to anybody who even mentions that it exists.

It seems to me we require teachers not only to be scholars but also social workers, psychologists, police officers and in loco parentis is becoming a defacto parent.

You’re not wrong, Charlie, although I guess one of the benefits of Every Child Matters is that there’s a bit more partnership with real social workers, psychologists & police officers. Also, to be fair, setting by ability means it’s pretty unlikely that you’d have someone trying to teach calculus when there are people in the same class who lack basic numeracy. Inclusion doesn’t (in my view, at least) mean imposing mixed ability classes on schools.

For what it’s worth, by the way, I do respect oldandrew’s position on this. I don’t agree with it, largely because for all the times I’ve been threatened, hit, sworn at, laughed at & shouted at, I still consider inclusion to be best, most rewarding job I’ve had. But I also recognise that all teachers aren’t the same and shouldn’t have to expect or tolerate that kind of behaviour, so a balance does need to be struck between the inclusion ideal and the practical, effective management of classrooms. That, perhaps, is where the debate should be situated.

My partner has been a primary teacher for around five years, and her working life is made immeasurably more difficult by the inclusion in her classes of one or more children with special needs, such as autistic spectrum disorders. Whilst I fully support the right of these children to receive a good education, it cannot be at the expense of thirty or so other children in the class. These children do vary in their capacity for disruptiveness, but I have absolutely no doubt that the learning of the majority can be negatively affected by inclusion.

Some children do receive special one-to-one support in the classroom, but not always. In cases where a child does not yet have this support but clearly needs it, there is a battle to be fought to get it, which is not always won. Even in cases where it is eventually won, it takes a significant amount of time to get it, while all the time classroom disruption is continuing.

I have formed the opinion, based only on what I have heard from my partner and other teachers, that inclusion can be the right thing for certain children, but trying to include children who simply don’t have the capacity to learn in a normal classroom environment is counter-productive for all concerned.

I think the question is not “does inclusion work?” but “Why does it take so long to recognise the examples where inclusion is not working and bloody well act on it?” It seems to me we’ve swung from one one-size-fits-all policy to another.

In just three years of teaching I taught several kids who should not have been in their particular class. They were often nice kids but they did not thrive in that environment, and the entire balance and atmosphere of the class would be upset as a result. They’d be periodically withdrawn from lessons when their behaviour got really bad, then they’d be put back in again the next week to start the cycle all over again.

It’s the implementation that’s wrong, not the concept.

Shouting people down because they argue that inclusion’s not working is not really a solution. Nor is simply saying “inclusion doesn’t work” because it evidently does, in many cases. And in many cases, it doesn’t.

Nor is simply saying “inclusion doesn’t work” because it evidently does, in many cases. And in many cases, it doesn’t.

I’m sure that’s true.
So therefore the question becomes, what should be done about the many cases in which it doesn’t?

If there are “many cases” in which a policy cannot be or is not being successfully implemented there must come a point at which the policy itself has to be challenged.

“So therefore the question becomes, what should be done about the many cases in which it doesn’t?

If there are “many cases” in which a policy cannot be or is not being successfully implemented there must come a point at which the policy itself has to be challenged.”

Exactly. But sadly that’s not the debate we were having.

I’d argue that it needs to be easier to make intervention much sooner, with the aim to include pupils back into mainstream education later when they are ready. Not just belligerently include them until they’re pretty much a lost cause and their exams are only next year and it’s all too late.

This post has made my day, Neil. What a pleasure it is to see someone who (I hope) did not have SEN agreeing with inclusion.

There are several posts on this topic at my blog, http://www.samedifferenceone.com if you are interested in reading the views of someone who did have SEN in a mainstream school.

Or http://www.samedifference1.com, Sarah. 😉

Good site.

oldandrew:

To repeat, no, not ad hominem, I’m not attacking you, I’m attacking you poor views which then reflect upon you.

And I’ve already said plenty about what is going on in school, just because you’re a cynical old goat, taking leading stats from 815 teachers with open ended general statements.

Also, don’t cry ad hominem when you do exactly the same thing by your own silly definition, its look bad on your CV whenever you decide to quit teaching.

What you call ignoring the problem I call there not being a unique problem, what you’r doing i far worse, overplaying the issue and demonising children.

You seem pretty determined to push your agenda, which is your right but don’t expect not to be challenged on it. Perhaps you and I are the poles, you set in negativity and me in positivity and the reality may be more a middle ground, not that you’ll concede that.

And as for the idea I have a problem with the idea being mentioned, not at all but if you want to think that to make yourself feel better, like the BNP playing victim at your message being repressed, that go for it but in reality it is that you are taking something and running with it to the very hills.

[Abusive, sarcastic and troll-ish comments (aimed at writers or other commenters) will be deleted.].

Claude:

I’m not sneering, I’m just disappointed by a negative attitude and the impact that has on teaching ability. In relation to the use of the word bitter and not being very god at their job, it really is about people I’ve taught with who have shared similar negative attitudes, there teaching suffered for it and they were a vortex of cynicism that sucked other teachers in.

blushes @ phil H. I wrote the hotmail address not the website address! Sorry! Glad you like the site 🙂

Daniel,

All this talk of your many guises (is he a teacher / actor / electrician etc etc) prompted me to Google your name to find out a bit more about the 21st centure social renaisance man named Daniel Hoffmann-Gill. Within 45 seconds – no joke – I had your list of recent purchases from Amazon.

Here it is:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/registry/wishlist/1P2D600HDZUHF?tag=section_wishlist0e-21

Well well well – both Volume 1 and Volume 2 of “The Rusian Criminal Tattoo Encyclopedia” – most insightful.

Perhaps you might want to add “Anger Management A Concise Guide” – Volumes 1 to 10 to your basket the next time you shop there.

Joking aside, it’s a bit scarey how all this info is available via Google.

But then again, contributors to Liberal Conspiracy can now send you their own little presents as a reward for the all the fun you give us.

That’s not purchases, that is me and my good ladies wish list Kojak but thanks anyway, I already own Vol. 3 so if you fancy getting me those two it’d be much appreciated.

Good ladies?

Are you a polygamist, Daniel?

Daniel,

I didn’t read it closely enough to pick up on that.

It sounds like congratulations are in order.

I’ll add to the list – but something different instead.

All the best 😉

Phil:

No I’m not, I just have specific learning difficulties.

Kojak:

Thanks to your bit of Googling I’ve realised that there is no need for it to be public so I’ve made it private. Thanks for flagging it duck!

Daniel,

I hope it didn’t freak you out.
You might want Sunny to also pull my message 51. I’ll ask him.

Sunny,
Could you please pull my message 51 as it’s invaisive?

Thanks

Kojak

Seriously Kojak, it is not invasive at all, it was out there, I knew it was out there and you actually did me a favour.

I’ve closed the option for anyone to view it now so really that link should be dead.

Yes, and sorry if I caused any offence with my dig at your grammar. I don’t think I caused offence, but it’s always difficult on the interwebs having a joke at people you don’t actually know.

As with Kojak, no offence taken at all Phil, honestly, I prefer an air of humour to Internet debates anywho.

57. I'm so cool

Woo!

I’m in an idiot liberal posse!

Finally, all of my dreams have been realised.

(Also, make-believe is one of the very best things life has to offer. And the classroom is a very boring place without it.)

Woo!

I’m in an idiot liberal posse!

Finally, all of my dreams have been realised.

We are, for all our idiotic flaws, a really awesome posse to have at parties. We even have our own Liberal Conspiracy Playa’s Anthem:

“You get for drinks for free,
When you ride with LC.
You only sip weak tea
If you don’t ride with LC”.*

And yes, Daniel’s still invited.

*I am, of course, lying through my teeth; there is no LC Playa’s anthem. So we’re an ‘idiotic, occasionally deceitful liberal posse’. Still, the ‘fun at parties’ thing was true.

60. I'm so cool

#Also, make-believe is one of the very best things life has to offer. And the classroom is a very boring place without it#

Oh I’m sure it is…one place where it really comes into its own is in an account of DHG’s existence. An otherwise prosaic and squalid little tale benefits hugely from a little embellishment, exaggeration and outright fabrication. Not only does he dissemble ‘manfully’ in his efforts to disguise his lack of conventional teaching experience, he goes on to assume a brief acquaintance with regular teaching entitles him to cast judgement over the abilities and attitudes of others. Delusional?

#I’m in an idiot liberal posse!#

Hang on. Are you one of the loyal idiots who cheerleads the magnificent Sunny H’s every gnomic reference, takes a default “strongly agree” on all issues which promote diversity and ‘equality’ regardless of their divisive and reactionary consequences and regards all “PC gone mad” stories as Daily Mail propaganda with no objective basis? If you answered yes to all of these then you are indeed in the posse. Send a SAE and Sheriff Sunny will send you a Deputy’s badge.

#Finally, all of my dreams have been realised.#

Surely not? What about the one where you can be taken seriously as a politically minded blogger without having to preach solely to the converted?

I like how your chosen method of quotation looks like Ceefax subtitles of me singing.

I’m so cool:

I’m dying to hear about what you’ve done with your life, how you’ve contributed to society, while I’ve been “sitting around in my smug little circle”. Or, as it’s otherwise known, working in rural Tanzania, promoting the sharing of good teaching practice in the vocational school I helped set up in my friend’s community, and leading health workshops with local peer educators. And now I’m back home, doing lots of research into girls’ education in Africa in order to help raise the achievement of not only our sponsored students, but also to raise the standard of teaching across all local schools from the primary level and up, while I wait for my new CRB checks so I can get back into work.

That’ll be me being a predictable one-trick pony, then.

If you read the comments here, you’ll see many of us are teachers, or have spoken with teachers about this issue, and have something useful to add to the debate – and you’ll find mostly the same sorts of comments and the same general level of agreement among the entire teaching population.

So please do tell me what you think of the current policy of inclusion in schools in England and Wales.

66. I'm so cool

“I’m so cool”,

Fu**in hell, do you always react like that? Camomille, anyone?

What’s the need to start spraying insults like that…?

As for your rant @65, I mean you can think whatever you want about people at LC, your opinion, but if that’s really what you think, then I feel for you if you have to waste your Friday evening on a website you despise so much and that can make you so angry. Cheerio.

69. I'm so cool

Can’t help but think the last two comments shouldn’t be here.

72. I'm so cool

“This means that whilst inclusion does not positively affect levels of achievement in a school, nor does it adversely affect it.”

LOL – That’s like saying “Drinking large amounts of cider does not positively affect levels of acheivment in a school, nor does it adversely affect it, therefore we should give out cider before every lesson”.
Most peoples idea of education (or at least most parents) is that it improves, i.e “positively affects levels of achivment”, otherwise whats the point ?

I’m closing the comments to this post for now and, in line with LC’s comments policy, I’ll also be moderating some of the uglier personal attacks. Apologies to anyone who wanted to contribute substantively, but I suspect that the most we’d get if I kept it open would be ever more imaginative character assassinations.


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