Centre for Studies on Inclusive Education

supporting inclusion, challenging exclusion

news & events

Pre-legislative scrutiny

19 December 2012

Last September the Department for Education had published the draft provisions that will form the basis for the Children and Families Bill, expected to be introduced into parliament in early 2013. The proposed changes were initially outlined in the Green Paper published in March 2011 and followed up in the Next Steps document of May 2012. A number of the recommendations are currently being piloted in a series of Pathfinders which were due to report their findings in summer 2013 but have recently been extended by a further 18 months. The Education Select Committee has conducted its pre-legislative scrutiny and has, today, published the report of its findings.

The Education Committee concludes that “the general thrust of the draft clauses is sound, but the legislation lacks detail, without which a thorough evaluation of the likely success of the Government's proposals is impossible.” It also points out a number of weaknesses in the draft clauses and suggests how the government can address these; for example, it recommends that extended Pathfinders engage with post-16 Education providers and, crucially, recommends that “the revised Code of Practice remains a statutory document, subject to consultation and laid before Parliament.”

CSIE welcomes this report and is reassured that most of the key issues highlighted by the Special Educational Consortium (SEC), of which CSIE is a member, are being addressed.

At the same time, we are deeply disappointed to see that the Education Committee recommends that the term “special educational needs” continues to be used in new legislation. In its written submission to the pre-legislative scrutiny, CSIE had suggested that this term has outlived its purpose and should be abolished, as it is weakly defined and does not serve children and young people well. We had also protested that some of the draft clauses seem to reinstate aspects of 1990s legislation that was repealed by the Special Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001. We remain very concerned that clauses may be introduced in new legislation which could undermine parental choice of school or compromise disabled children’s rights, and will continue to raise these concerns with the Department for Education.

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Equality Duty guidance

08 November 2012

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has published new guidance for schools on the Equality Duty. This new guide illustrates how the Equality Duty can help schools to raise attainment, tackle bullying and improve behaviour. It also features a series of short practical case studies and FAQs to help make it more hassle-free for Schools to meet their Equality Duty.

The EHRC website continues to offer relevant information for schools, such as guidance on the duty to make reasonable adjustments which, as of September 2012, includes the duty on schools to provide auxiliary aids and services for disabled pupils.

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We need your views

07 November 2012

We have launched a super-brief online survey (it really only takes a few minutes to complete) into parental experiences of choosing a school for a disabled child. In order to keep the wording as simple as possible, throughout the survey we have used "parents" to refer to parents and carers and "disabled children" to refer to disabled children and young people, or those categorised as having special educational needs.

The government has promised a choice of mainstream or special school to parents of disabled children, or children who have a statement of special educational needs.

We want to find out how much real choice parents have at the moment, in different parts of the country, and how parents feel about the options available to them. We are particularly interested in the experiences of parents of disabled children who want a mainstream education for their child.

We are keen to hear from parents, young people, education practitioners, other professionals, disabled people and their allies, and representatives of the voluntary sector. The survey is anonymous, but there is an option for respondents to give us their name and contact details if they want to.

Having a large number of responses will help us tremendously so please complete this survey and tell others about it too; the survey will be open until Friday 30 November.

Your answers will help us confirm what needs to change and also help us to lobby for change and try to make change happen.

Thank you, we look forward to receiving your views!

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The Big Give Christmas Challenge

30 October 2012

Please help us create “Give me a chance!”, a new resource to help schools better include disabled children. Donate online from 10 am on 6, 7 or 8 December 2012 and your donation could be doubled.

About the project

We have plans to work with parents, teachers and young people to produce a brand new resource for schools that will:

“Give me a chance!” will help challenge disability discrimination in education. This will benefit everyone, especially disabled children and their parents; the government has promised a choice of mainstream or special school, but some disabled children find the door to their local school closed. This could be because many schools do not yet feel able to work effectively with disabled children or young people. For more information on our plans please see our project page on the Big Give website.

About the Big Give Christmas Challenge

This is an annual event in which online donations are matched. CSIE has secured a Charity Champion (who has chosen to remain anonymous) and also built up a pledge fund of £5,000. Together, these two give us access to funds of up to £10,000 for matching any online donations we receive on or after 10 am on 6 December. For more information on the Big Give Christmas Challenge please see the explanation on the Big Give website and scroll down to Step 4: December Challenge Phase. Confused? It’s understandable. It took us a while to get our heads round how the Christmas Challenge works. The thing to remember is that for every £1 you give on 6, 7 or 8 December, CSIE could be getting £2, or even more if you gift aid your donation. We need £26,790 to make this project happen, so need all the help we can get in December!

How you can help

Please donate online at 10am on Thursday 6th, Friday 7th or Saturday 8th December, or as soon after 10am as you can. This is because donations will be matched on a first come – first served basis, until funds available for matching are exhausted each day. Online donations can be made until 5pm on 19th December, but later donations are unlikely to be doubled.

We hope you will choose to support this important project to help challenge disability discrimination in education. Please feel free to contact us at admin@csie.org.uk or through our facebook or twitter pages, if there are any questions you want to ask.

Remember, the government has promised a choice of mainstream or special school to everyone, but the choice of mainstream is not available to everyone. Please help us to help them! Thank you.

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Out in the open

22 October 2012

In September 2011 the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) had published "Hidden in plain sight: Inquiry into disability-related harassment”. The report had uncovered that harassment is a commonplace experience for disabled people but a culture of disbelief and systemic institutional failures are preventing it from being tackled effectively.

In July 2012 the government had published its response. Included in this response, was the rejection, by the Department for Education (DfE), of the EHRC recommendation that primary research is needed in order to better understand how segregated education affects attitudes towards disabled people. At the time, we had expressed our astonishment at this by reporting: “We struggle to understand how the DfE can support segregated education without knowing, and without being willing to find out, its full impact on the future life chances of disabled young people.”

Today, 22 October, the EHRC has published its follow-up report “Out in the open: Tackling disability-related harassment. A manifesto for change". This summarises the formal responses received from relevant organisations and sets out the EHRC’s final recommendations for local and national governments, as well as for police, transport, health and education authorities.

Having looked at the number of disability hate crimes recorded by police forces in England and Wales, and compared this with information from the Crime Survey for England and Wales, the report states that 2011 saw a very sharp increase (24.1%) on the number of disability hate crimes recorded by the police and that disability was the only equality strand to have seen an increase in the police recording of hate crimes. It is not yet clear if this is because more disabled people are being harassed or because more people feel able to report incidents of harassment. What is clear, however, is that there seems to be some kind of “postcode lottery” in recording patterns, with 255 incidents being recorded in one authority and just a handful in others. The report concludes that “some police forces are simply not trying hard enough to encourage disabled people to report these incidents or to take them seriously when they do.”

The report also picked up on the contradiction between the positive reporting on disability surrounding the 2012 Paralympics, and the day-to-day reality for many disabled people, often labelled as scroungers or benefit cheats or ‘not trying hard enough’.

We are particularly pleased to see that the EHRC has challenged the DfE’s rejection of the recommendation for more research on the long-term impact of segregated schooling. The DfE had made the point that quality of provision, rather than setting, is what matters. The EHRC, however, has reiterated that setting may also be important and that separating disabled children from their peers at an early stage may have an adverse long-term impact. This should be investigated, insists the EHRC, and the call for more research is included among the final recommendations of this report: “The Department for Education and devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales should review existing evidence on the extent to which segregated education (or inadequately supported integrated education) affects the ability of disabled children to be included within mainstream society. They should also consider evidence on the extent to which segregation adversely affects non-disabled people’s views of disability and disabled people. Where sufficient primary evidence is unavailable, they should consider commissioning new research.”

Other education-related recommendations include the suggestion that “Schools and colleges should develop material for helping students understand disabled people and the social model of disability, and the prejudice that disabled people face within society” and that “Schools and colleges should ensure disabled pupils and those [categorised as having] special educational needs (SEN) are able to participate in all school/college and after-school/college activities on an equal basis with non-disabled pupils”. The DfE had already accepted both these in its July 2012 response, citing the Equality Act 2010 and the schools’ duty to make reasonable adjustments so that disabled children are not discriminated against by being prevented from participating in school activities.

CSIE welcomes these recommendations, particularly the call for research into the long-term impact of segregated schooling, and looks forward to seeing how the DfE will respond. The EHRC has said it will publish a report in September 2013 on the initial response by authorities to its final recommendations. Further follow up reports are expected in September 2015 and September 2017.

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Express law reform

12 September 2012

The Department for Education has published the draft provisions that will form the basis for the Children and Families Bill, expected to be introduced into parliament in early 2013. The proposed changes were initially outlined in the Green Paper published in March 2011 and followed up in the Next Steps document of May 2012. A number of the recommendations are currently being piloted in a series of Pathfinders which are due to report their findings in summer 2013. The Education Select Committee is currently conducting pre-legislative scrutiny and has invited written submissions of evidence to be received by noon on Thursday 11 October. The Select Committee is expected to publish a report of its findings in December 2012.

Proposals in the draft provisions indicate the government’s intention to make no change to the way in which local authorities’ duty to educate in the mainstream is defined. CSIE is pleased to note the clarification that the law applies equally to all state-funded schools, including academies and free schools, but is disappointed to see little change in the conditions on which access to mainstream education is thought to depend. The draft provisions replicate clauses which were first introduced in the Education Acts of 1981 and 1996, when disabled children’s right to be part of mainstream life and institutions had barely been acknowledged. Alarmingly, the draft provisions also include some clauses that had been repealed by the SEN & Disability Act (SENDA) 2001. The Coalition government, as well as the Labour government before it, have insisted that type of school should be a matter of parental choice. If the promise of parental choice is real and honest, then the law must clearly state that access to mainstream education depends only on the wishes of the child’s parent or the young person. Specifying any additional conditions would be the same as admitting that some parents will not be allowed to choose mainstream and have their choice honoured. In other words, it would be the same as admitting that the government’s promise of parental choice is hollow.

Proposals in the draft provisions further indicate the government’s intention to make no change to the use, or the definition, of the term “special educational need”. Repeated criticisms of the term had so far been met with the argument that it cannot be changed because it is embedded in the law. The term “special educational need” was first introduced in the 1981 Education Act, which stated that a child should be identified as having special educational needs if he or she has “a learning difficulty which calls for special educational provision to be made”. This definition has repeatedly been criticised as inadequate and, in the words of Baroness Warnock in 2005, is “the purest vicious circle you will ever know”. She added: “Well, that is not much of a definition but it is the only definition there is.” At a time of such radical law reform, CSIE is disappointed to see that the government is not taking the opportunity to establish a new culture of making provisions for “all children”. If the DfE deems that a particular group of children and young people has to be defined and separate provisions articulated for them, a clear alternative seems to be the term “disabled children and young people” which can rely on the definition of disability which exists in the Equality Act 2010.

Other key points from the draft provisions include: the proposal that Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans are introduced for young people up to the age of 25 and replace statements of special educational need; the proposal for each local authority to publish information on the education, health and care services available locally (the Local Offer); the proposal that local authorities and clinical commissioning groups must make arrangements for joint commissioning of services; the suggestion that local authorities must prepare personal budgets for young people with EHC plans, if requested by the young person or their parents; and the suggestion that there will be a revised Code of Practice, albeit not to be laid before Parliament, as the proposal currently stands.

CSIE welcomes the government’s intention to reform the current system but remains deeply concerned about some of the proposals being made. We are also alarmed that the government is pushing ahead with law reform before many of the Pathfinders have reported. The DfE has responded to this concern by saying that the consultation process is long enough to take into account further evidence when it becomes available. One can draw one’s own conclusions as to why this law reform is being rushed with an aim to be completed by spring 2014. CSIE will be submitting evidence to the Education Select Committee shortly and publish it on this website.

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The School Report

24 July 2012

The School Report 2012

Stonewall, Britain’s lesbian, gay and bisexual charity, have recently published The School Report, a follow up report into the extent and effects of homophobia on lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) pupils in British schools. In 2007 they had surveyed more than 1000 LGB people, or those who though that they might be, asked them their experiences of school and had published the first School Report. Using a different cohort of young people, they have now repeated the exercise. Our overwhelming feeling from reading the latest report is how very little things have changed, but we are pleased to see that robust recommendations and suggestions for change have been identified, which, if followed, should lead to a marked improvement over the next five years.

Key aspects of The School Report are summarised below:

The good news is that levels of homophobia seem to have fallen by 10% since 2007 and the number of schools saying that homophobia is wrong to have increased to 50% (from 25%). Teachers are getting better at intervening when they hear homophobic remarks and more young people now feel that they have someone to talk to if they experience homophobia. Slightly more LGB young people feel gay ‘issues’ are addressed in their school and more feel as though they have someone to talk to if they are LGB.

However, homophobic language and remarks are just as common, appropriate teaching on gay ‘issues’ is extremely patchy, the type and range of abuse that occurs remains the same, teachers all too frequently do nothing, and the devastating costs of it on young people’s emotional health, educational attainment and future prospects remain bleak.

Boys are more likely than girls to experience homophobic bullying and disabled pupils or those with impairments or long-term mental health issues are at most risk. Pupils who are more open about their sexual orientation are also more likely to suffer abuse. Homophobia takes the form of: verbal abuse, malicious gossip, intimidating looks, ignoring or isolating a young person, cyberbullying, physical abuse, vandalism/theft of property, phone bullying via text, death threats, being threatened with a weapon and sexual assault.

Bullying takes place in all parts of schools, as well as outside of school, and may be perpetrated by pupils of any age. There is a high correlation between widespread homophobic remarks and homophobic bullying. Very few schools (31%) respond to homophobic bullying quickly. This figure is lower still in faith schools. When young people report homophobic bullying this has little effect; only 12% say the bullying stops immediately and 24% say it stops eventually.

LGB young people do not generally hear about LGB identities during their time at school and many libraries lack resources that include LGB identities, while one in three say they cannot use school computers to access such materials due to online blocking filters. One young woman describes not knowing “about my rights as a gay person, what the law says or anything about safe sex” (Natalie, p.17).

The results of this is that LGB young people do not feel part of their school community; they struggle to reach their full potential academically; they play truant; they have increased incidences of depression, self-harm and suicide attempts and generally, fell distressed while at school.

What schools can do

The fundamental way in which schools can change this is by having clear and promoted anti-homophobia policies, responding quickly to homophobic bullying and language when it occurs, and through supporting LGB pupils - for example, helping pupils to establish Gay Straight Alliances, or creating environments where teachers can be ‘out’.

The report goes on to list ten recommendations for schools (pp. 26-27). CSIE endorses all of these and is particularly pleased to see the final recommendation for schools to go beyond tackling bullying; we resonate with the suggestion that a school environment that promotes and values diversity and difference allows all young people to thrive. Another of these recommendations is for schools to broaden the curriculum and calls upon schools and academies to exercise the greater flexibility that is now available to them. Our own resource, the Index for Inclusion contains both suggestions on how schools may ensure that they are including LGB (and transgender) pupils across all aspects of the curriculum, but also has an entire section on an alternative curriculum.

The School Report also lists six recommendations for the Department for Education (p.28), four for Ofsted (p.28) and a further six for Academy Chains and Local Authorities (p.29). One of the recommendations for Ofsted is to “make sure all inspectors are trained on sexual orientation issues and on how to measure a school’s effectiveness in combatting homophobic bullying”. CSIE is proud to say that by the end of this summer all Ofsted inspectors will have received training using a video resource generated through involvement in our LGBT Youth Empowerment Project.

The materials, the good practice, the expertise, and the know how are all out there now. Let us all do our bit to help ensure that were Stonewall to issue another School Report in 2017 the results would be significantly better.

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Hidden despite right

17 July 2012

In September 2011 the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) had published “Hidden in plain sight: Inquiry into disability-related harassment”. The report had uncovered that harassment is a commonplace experience for disabled people, but a culture of disbelief and systemic institutional failures are preventing it from being tackled effectively.

The government has published its response today (Monday, 17 July). In it, the Department for Education (DfE) has rejected one of the EHRC recommendations, partially accepted three and accepted the remaining four.

The DfE has rejected as unnecessary the EHRC recommendation for research into the extent to which segregated education, or inadequately supported integrated education, affects the ability of disabled children to subsequently re-integrate into wider society, and the extent to which segregation adversely impacts on nondisabled children’s views of disability and disabled people. We struggle to understand how the DfE can support segregated education without knowing, and without being willing to find out, its full impact on the future life chances of disabled young people.

Three recommendations have been partially accepted. In response to the EHRC recommendation that Ofsted maintains its ability to make limiting judgements where schools under perform in equalities-related areas, the DfE stated that Ofsted will maintain a strong focus on equalities-related areas. In response to the EHRC recommendation that schools with a strong track record of promoting the understanding of disability share good practice with other schools as a matter of course, the DfE stated that all schools will be encouraged to promote the understanding of disability and share good practice as a matter of course. The EHRC report had recommended that schools and colleges develop material to help students understand disabled people, the social model of disability, and the prejudice that disabled people face within society. In its response, the DfE stated that its statutory guidance on compliance with the Equality Act fulfils this purpose. We are deeply disappointed that the DfE has not fully embraced these essential EHRC recommendations.

The DfE has accepted the remaining four recommendations of the EHRC report: for schools to adopt a zero-tolerance approach to prejudice-based bullying, including cyberbullying; for processes to be in place to prevent harassment and to deal with it effectively when it occurs; and for all schools to ensure that disabled pupils can participate on an equal basis with non-disabled pupils.

We reiterate this last point, lest it got missed. The DfE has accepted the EHRC recommendation that “Schools and colleges should ensure disabled pupils and those with special educational needs are able to participate in all school/ college and after school/college activities on an equal basis with non-disabled pupils.” In its response, the DfE cited the Equality Act 2010 and the schools’ duty to make reasonable adjustments so that disabled children are not discriminated against by being prevented from participating in school activities.

We look forward to seeing what steps the DfE takes to make sure schools comply with this statutory duty.

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Making Human Rights History

16 July 2012

GoGs Closing Event July 2012

On Monday 9th July 2012 CSIE were proud to help celebrate the achievements of thirty LGBT young people.

Since last September, we have been working on a collaborative project with Wiltshire Integrated Youth Service’s Trowbridge LGBT youth group, GoGs (which stands for Group of Gays, the name the young people have chosen for themselves), and Bath Spa University’s Centre for Education Policy in Practice (EPIP).

Over the course of the project young people engaged in a range of activities, including: learning how to market and promote their group; drama role play; presenting their work at the national Schools Out conference; hosting a question and answer session with trans speakers; and making a film about the effects of homophobia on learning, which is currently being used in the training of Ofsted inspectors.

Richard Parker, Director of EPIP, was joined by Janet Palmer, HMI and National Advisor for PSHE education at Ofsted, in handing out the awards to the young people. Ms. Palmer said "I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for the work that you are doing in combating homophobia. Your video has already begun to influence change. Inspectors are now asking questions that they didn’t ask before. Good practice and bad practice is now being reported. That didn’t happen before. All leadership of Ofsted have seen your film. I burst into tears when I saw it because I knew it was going to make a difference. 1,500 inspectors are getting trained this summer and are seeing your video as part of their training. That is just the start of it. What you have done in that video is going across the whole country. You will be a part of human rights history”.

We are very proud of the achievements of the group and wish to thank them all, as well as the dedicated and inspiring youth workers - Siobainn Chaplin, Nic Sage and Ollie Phipps - for all of their hard work over the last year. It has been a pleasure and a privilege working with them.

The group is going on to run a ‘Zero Tolerance’ campaign in six local secondary schools that seeks to stamp out homophobic language.

A project evaluation report will be available shortly and will be posted here.

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Happy Birthday CSIE

30 June 2012

CSIE Open Day June 2012

CSIE was set up on 28 June 1982 and earlier this week we celebrated our 30th birthday! To mark the occasion, we held an open day last Thursday, 28 June. We were thrilled to welcome a number of people who dropped in to find out more about our work and about inclusive education. We were especially delighted to see Mark Vaughan, founder of CSIE in 1982 and director until 2007, who paid us a surprise visit.

Originally set up in London as Centre for Studies on Integration in Education, CSIE was formed in direct response to the 1981 Education Act and the general duty for children identified as having “special educational needs” to be educated in mainstream schools. CSIE moved to Bristol in 1994 and changed its name to Centre for Studies on Inclusive Education in 1995. As the meaning of “inclusive education” has changed over the years, so CSIE’s remit has expanded to embrace all those at risk of discrimination. Our strategy paper clarifies that our work currently focuses on two key priorities: disability equality and LGBT equality (LGBT stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender).

CSIE has been at the forefront of developments in inclusive education nationally and internationally for 30 years. Our work is still needed because many schools and other educational settings still operate in ways that leave children, young people or adults feeling marginalised or excluded. CSIE provides training, information and resources that help to bridge the gaps between equality legislation and current practice. Recent successes include the collaborative production of a short film to tackle homophobic bullying, which is currently being used in the training of Ofsted inspectors.

Some of our other most significant achievements include:

In the past year CSIE has ventured into the world of social media and now provides a vibrant information exchange through facebook and twitter. We look forward to welcoming more supporters of inclusion in these virtual spaces.

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No place for bullying

21 June 2012

A new report by Ofsted, entitled No place for bullying and released on Tuesday 19 June, exposes worrying levels of bullying in schools, particularly for disabled and homosexual children and young people.

Inspectors visited 37 primary and 19 secondary schools and spoke to 1,357 pupils and 797 staff. They looked at what schools do to prevent and to tackle bullying and evaluated how effective these actions are. They found name-calling and other forms of bullying to be rife in many schools in England: almost half of the pupils surveyed wrote about an incident where they had felt picked on or bullied at their current school.

The report suggests that some groups of pupils are bullied disproportionately. Those bullied the most are disabled pupils or those identified as having special educational needs, as well as those who are (or are thought to be) lesbian or gay. In many schools discriminatory language is not consistently challenged by staff, who either dismiss it as “banter” or feel ill-equipped to challenge and address prejudices effectively.

The report states that schools which have been most effective in reducing bullying have clearly articulated values, known and lived by the whole school community; they also plan and deliver the curriculum in a way that encourages everyone to understand and value diversity. In many schools the curriculum has specifically focused on different aspects of bullying, including homophobia, racism, and cyberbullying. However, the report says that even in these schools disability was seldom covered as well as other aspects of diversity.

Schools that have noticed racist, homophobic or aggressive attitudes among parents and the wider community, and found these to be in conflict with the culture and values of the school, have reported significant success in working with parents, carers and the wider community to reach better understanding.

Ofsted inspectors also visited an additional four primary and five secondary schools that have specifically and successfully tackled prejudice-based attitudes. A number of case studies are presented in a separate part of the report, including that of a small primary school that has well above average proportion of pupils with statements of special educational needs and is being showcased for its excellent work with pupils who are or may be transgender.

The report makes a number of recommendations for schools, including suggestions that:

CSIE can help schools with all of these recommendations. Our popular resource for school improvement Index for inclusion: developing learning and participation in schools encourages the whole school community to work together in reviewing all aspects of cultures, policies and practices in their school. The Index materials guide schools through a process of self-evaluation, specifically inviting the contribution of all members of the school community, and support schools in articulating their own set of values and putting them into action. Our training events often include strategies for reducing bullying, or we can offer bespoke training tailored to the particular requirements of a school or cluster of schools.

Other resources are also available, such as The Classroom, a resource put forward by Schools OUT, which offers teachers specific tools to teach about LGBT and all equalities in the curriculum. A wealth of information can also be found at Richard Rieser’s Disability Equality website, which offers many examples of building disability equality awareness into the curriculum for primary and secondary schools.

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Happy Birthday CSIE

21 June 2012

CSIE was set up in June 1982 and next week we celebrate our 30th birthday! To mark the occasion, we will be having an open day 10am-3pm on Thursday 28 June. Do come along to our office in Bristol if you can, to find out more about our work and about inclusive education near and far. You will find us in room J9 at The Park Community Centre, Daventry Road, Bristol BS4 1DQ.

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Widespread discrimination?

11 June 2012

Recent reports suggest that many academies are refusing to admit children who have statements of special educational needs and that such decisions may not be challenged by the First Tier Tribunal (Special Educational Needs and Disability). This potentially amounts to disability discrimination and undermines children's legal right to a mainstream education. It also seriously compromises parental choice.

A case in point is an 11-year-old boy who has cerebral palsy (he is sometimes unsteady on his feet), has been identified as gifted and has already obtained an A* in Maths GCSE. The academy of his choice has refused to offer him a place, saying that his admission "would be incompatible with the efficient education of other children". The First Tier Tribunal has refused to hear his parents’ appeal, on the grounds that the academy is under no obligation to implement the Tribunal’s decision. (More information in media and other reports).

During the passage of the Academies Act the Special Educational Consortium (SEC), of which CSIE is a member, had expressed concerns that academies might not have the same responsibilities to admit children or young people who have statements of special educational needs. In response, the government had made assurances that, with regard to "SEN provision", there would be absolute parity between academies and other State-funded schools. This has clearly not materialised. Urgent action is needed to achieve such parity and ensure equality of opportunity.

We are all silent (?) witnesses to the first cohort of young people making the transition from primary to secondary education since the passage of the Academies Act. By now, more than half of all secondary schools in the country have become academies. In many areas every secondary school is an academy. This may leave some young people, and their parents, with woefully limited choice of school.

CSIE is petitioning the Department for Education to take immediate action to ensure equality of opportunity and keep its promise of parental choice. Our petition has been rejected twice but we have submitted it once again and will post here details of how it can be signed, when these become available.

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A bias towards segregation?

18 May 2012

Much later than originally expected, and almost a year after the consultation on the Green Paper closed, on 15 May the Department for Education published Support and aspiration: A new approach to special educational needs and disability - progress and next steps, setting out the progress made and the next steps in taking forward the Green Paper reforms.

We looked for the Department’s current position on inclusion, but at first glance saw nothing. The word “inclusion” is only mentioned four times in the whole document: twice as part of naming the National Development Team for Inclusion, once in naming the Inclusion Development Programme materials and once to report that social inclusion had been mentioned in consultation responses. Yes, that’s it. Inclusion doesn’t seem to have a place in the government’s plans for reform. What is worse, a strong flavour of the medical model of disability runs through the whole document.

We were surprised to find no reference to the Department’s previous commitment to “removing the bias towards inclusion” and took a closer look at the document offering details of all consultation responses. We read that many respondents said there was no bias towards inclusion. Interestingly, this is the only place where we found no clear information on how many respondents expressed this view. We are left wondering if our unofficial information was correct, that the overwhelming majority of responses said there was no bias towards inclusion. We are pleased to see the offensive phrase gone, but remain concerned that the “Progress and next steps” document reflects a bias towards segregation which remains unsaid.

There is no mention of schools’ statutory duties under the Equality Act 2010 and no mention of the government’s commitment, with reference to Article 24 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, to “continuing to develop an inclusive system where parents of disabled children have increasing access to mainstream schools and staff, which have the capacity to meet the needs of disabled children.” We know that the current way of organising education, and the existence of separate special schools, have their roots at a time in history when disabled people were not thought of as part of mainstream society. Over the years society has changed, but education hasn’t. At least not in this respect. Many disabled children and young people continue to be excluded from their local school, in the name of their own good. Well-meaning non-disabled adults continue to assume that there is no need for mainstream schools to change.

We are also alarmed at the speed with which changes are taking place. The government has announced new legislation, the Children and Families Bill, to make the legal changes required for the proposed Green Paper reforms. Draft clauses for the SEN & disability section of the Children and Families Bill are expected to be published in July 2012 and the Bill is expected to be introduced into the House of Commons in January 2013. The government, however, seems to be jumping the gun. With some pathfinders not due to report until later in 2013 or 2014, we struggle to understand what evidence there is to suggest that the proposed changes will deliver better outcomes.

The “Progress and next steps” document is organised around five main areas, as outlined below.

1 Early identification and assessment
The government proposes to replace learning difficulties assessments and statements of special educational need with a single Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP). We applaud the proposed collaboration between government Departments (is it too optimistic to think it might work this time?) and the wider age span of 0-25 years, but wonder how the government will ensure that single plans have a strong focus on broader life outcomes. We worry that they might have a narrow focus on academic achievement, or perceived readiness for it. We are reminded of the words of Mel Ainscow who, in his 2005 article “Understanding the development of inclusive education system”, says: “In other words, we must ‘measure what we value’ rather than, as is often the case, ‘valuing what we can measure’.”

2 Giving parents control
In this section the government promises parents a right to state a preference of school, proposes a personal budget and introduces the notion of a local offer.

We are significantly alarmed at the conditions that have to be met before parental choice of mainstream can be granted: the proposed four conditions indicate a change in law that would make it even harder than it is now for disabled children to be given a mainstream school place. Making it harder for disabled children to access mainstream is exactly what David Cameron had promised not to do... The promise of a “right to state a preference” will be felt as salt in the wounds of many parents, if the choice of mainstream is not made available to all. Unless the government takes steps to develop more inclusive provision in all areas, its promise of parental choice will remain hollow.

Managing your personal budget can be a great way to have a say in your own or your child’s education but, unless the full range of provision is made available to all, granting control over how money is spent could also become an ineffective gesture. What good would a meal voucher be if all restaurants in your area kept their doors locked to you?

We applaud the proposal for a local offer, i.e. an outline of what services are available, to be published by each local authority. CSIE had previously brought to light a postcode lottery of sorts, in our reports on local authority inclusion and segregation trends, and we believe that clarity and transparency are crucial in enabling parents to make an informed choice. We are concerned, however, that the government has not clarified if it will attend to the content or quality of local offers, or how it might respond in cases where the local offer describes limited options for the education of disabled children. Unless the Department for Education takes a stance on such matters, we cannot see how the government can be sure that national policy and aspiration, such that it is, is applied in all areas.

3 Learning and achieving
In this section the government proposes to remove the categories of ‘school action’ and ‘school action plus’, improve Initial Teacher Education and Continued Professional Development for teaching and non teaching staff, introduce a new Special category of Free schools and Academies, roll out the “Achievement for All” programme and give additional funding to schools through the pupil premium, to support disadvantaged pupils categorised as having special educational needs. We warmly applaud the rolling out of “Achievement for All” to all areas and extend a lukewarm welcome to training proposals (we strongly encourage the government to offer disability equality training, delivered by disabled trainers, and ensure that the social model of disability is reflected in all aspects of training. We remain deeply concerned at some of the other proposals and struggle to see how they will improve outcomes for disabled children and young people.

4 Preparing for adulthood
The government proposes to improve the transitional arrangements for disabled children approaching adulthood, as well as pre and vocational opportunities and support in work and internships. It is proposed that the single and integrated assessment and the EHCP should afford young people a smoother transition between children’s and adult services, and between school and further education, training or paid and unpaid work experience. The Government plans to amend the law so that the EHCP provides legal protection comparable to that of a statement of special educational needs, to young people aged 16 to 25 while they are in school or further education. During the assessment and planning process, young people will be able to express a preference for a college placement. We applaud the extension of statutory protection into further education, but regret that higher education has not been mentioned.

5 Services working together for families
The government proposes new legislation to make sure that services for disabled children and young people, as well as those categorised as having special educational needs, are planned and commissioned jointly between local authorities and clinical commissioning groups. We welcome such a local multi-agency strategy and joint commissioning arrangements, but note that local authorities are no longer the default provider in education, as there has been a large increase in the number of academies. We are, therefore, anxious to see how new types of education providers will be able to feed into strategic planning and commissioning.

In conclusion, even though we can see some positive steps, we are deeply disappointed to see that the commitment to parental choice is not extended to all parents.

The government has insisted
that whether a child attends mainstream or special school
is a matter of parental choice.
And yet, despite the promise of parental choice
plans for such major reform
say nothing,
absolutely nothing,
to help make the inclusion of disabled young people
into mainstream education
for those who choose this.

Offering choice
without making all options possible
is like sending an invitation
and then keeping the door locked.

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A matter of choice

04 April 2012

The Labour Party has sought the views of parents, young people and education practitioners on how to improve educational outcomes for disabled children and young people and those categorised as having special educational needs, in order to inform policies in the run-up to the next general election.

CSIE has submitted a brief summary of key issues to bring to the attention of the review panel and has scheduled a meeting to discuss these in more detail with Sharon Hodgson, Shadow Education Minister, who is chairing the review panel.

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New report out today

19 March 2012

The Office of the Children’s Commissioner published its findings from the School Exclusions Inquiry today (Monday, 19 March). The report, entitled “They never give up on you” suggests that the current system of school exclusions is in breach of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and of UK legislation.

The report highlights breaches of children’s rights with regard to Article 3 (the best interests of the child must be a primary consideration in all actions concerning the child) and Article 12 (children’s views must be taken into account in decisions which affect them) of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The inquiry highlights further evidence of illegal activity by some schools, in the form of “unofficial” or “informal” exclusions, and calls upon the Secretary of State to respond as a matter of urgency. The report also draws attention to disturbing variations in exclusion rates between different groups of children. Boys, those from Black Caribbean background, those identified as having special educational needs and those eligible for free school meals are more likely to be excluded from school. The report rightly points out that such differentials in exclusion rates between different groups are not compatible with schools’ statutory duties under the Equality Act 2010. It recommends that schools are given clear guidance on interpreting their statutory equality duties and that Ofsted takes a stronger lead in ensuring these duties are implemented.

CSIE welcomes the report, but remains significantly concerned at these findings. Some children are repeatedly failed by our system, despite the rhetoric of equality. This is untenable. The Department for Education must take this opportunity to hold an urgent review of the system of school exclusions. It must also take more decisive action if the Equality Act 2010 is to be implemented consistently in schools. Too many children and young people have been let down by this government’s weak commitment to inclusion. We hope that in its response to this report, the government can show evidence of a real commitment to equality and children’s rights.

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North South Dialogue IV

14 March 2012

North South Dialogue Conference

Around 200 delegates from 18 countries took part in the four-day conference “North South Dialogue IV– Implementing Tools of Change for Inclusion”. The fourth in this series, this event took place from 19 to 23 February in Goa, India. The first North South Dialogue was held in 2001 and subsequent events took place in 2003 and 2005.

The North South Dialogue IV enabled inclusion supporters from all over the world to share news and information local to them, learn from one another and discuss potential ways forward. The event had a strong emphasis on issues of disability equality, but also addressed other aspects of inclusion such as sectarian conflict in Northern Ireland. Organised by ADAPT (Able Disabled All People Together, formerly the Spastics Society of India), the conference also celebrated 40 years of the organisation and 10 years of Community Initiatives in Inclusion (CII), a training course funded by the Women’s Council UK and run annually by ADAPT.

Dr. Mithu Alur, Founder and Chairperson of ADAPT said of North South Dialogue IV: “This is special because it commemorates 40 years of our service to the nation. During this time we have managed to get the disabled out of their homes and given them the service that they required. Now it is time to get them out of special schools and include them in society. It is time to think of the way forward, and about how we can serve the rural and tribal population as well.”

The conference was attended by disabled activists, their allies, professionals, academics, parents, grass-roots workers, as well as corporate and government representatives. CSIE’s director Artemi Sakellariadis was among the presenters of this conference. Her presentation appears below:

Lessons from yesterday for a better tomorrow
Presentation at North South Dialogue IV, Goa, India
22 February 2012

Introduction by Mônica Pereira dos Santos, Professor of Education at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro:
Now I call Dr Artemi Sakellariadis from the UK. She is the director of the Centre for Studies on Inclusive Education, based in Bristol, England. She trained as a special educator and taught in special schools for many years before committing her energy – and she has a lot, I can tell you that – to the development of more inclusive education for all in ordinary local schools. Thank you.

Presentation by Artemi Sakellariadis, director of CSIE:
Thank you Mônica and thank you all. I work for CSIE, as Mônica has just said. The Centre works towards promoting equality and reducing all forms of discrimination in education. That said, I am here today to speak about disability discrimination, on the grounds of the Centre’s history and of my personal passion and commitment to disabled children being included in their local community. I want to point out that, because of what the Centre stands for and works towards, I have to register a bit of an unease at the way that many of us, including myself, over the past few days have been using the word “inclusion” as though it only means the inclusion of disabled children in mainstream schools. It is a much broader term, I wish we had time to talk about this more. We will, no doubt, outside of these sessions.

Today I have been asked to talk about the UK perspective with regard to “removing barriers to inclusion”, so I have chosen to talk to you about kaleidoscopic understanding. Now if you don’t know what I mean by that fear not, you are not alone. I will tell you about it in a minute. I will then focus first on institutional and then on attitudinal barriers, but I would like to point out that I do not see these as separate from one another. As many of us have heard over the past few days, all of these issues are interlinked. I am just choosing to focus on one aspect at a time, as a lens to look through a very complex picture.

So let me start by telling you about kaleidoscopic understanding. You may not have heard of the term before; it is because I have made it up footnote 1. I chose to speak about kaleidoscopic understanding when I was writing my doctoral thesis. I wanted to have some form of visual analogy, to represent how I want to encourage people to consider these complex issues. I like the analogy of the kaleidoscope, in that you look through it and see lots of little coloured particles; and they may form a pattern, you may see something in that pattern. But if you change your perspective, if you choose to turn the kaleidoscope around and look through a different angle, you will see exactly the same small coloured particles, but in a different formation; so you may make a different meaning out of them. So today I want to encourage us all to focus not so much on what we see, but on our internal meaning-making processes: on how we make sense of what we see and on how things might look from a different perspective.

We have time for a couple of examples, which is good. You know, I always think that as parents, or as teachers, we have a choice of how to understand what we see children doing. If we see somebody who is behaving in ways that we don’t like, what do we see? Do we see somebody who is being naughty, disobedient, or a nuisance, who is getting in the way, and whom we should reprimand or punish? Or do we choose to see somebody who might be frustrated, confused or bored, and whom we should support? I am not suggesting that there is someone out there who has the right answer, or that these are mutually exclusive. I am only highlighting the fact that there are more ways than one to make sense of what we are seeing.

And I will also mention Judith Snow. She is a disabled activist from Canada, whose talks and writings I have found inspirational. I attended one of her very inspiring presentations not so long ago, where she was talking about independent living. I am thankful to my colleagues who spoke about independent living earlier today and prompted this memory. So Judith was saying that sometimes people see that she is in a wheelchair and ask if she calls upon others to help her with things she cannot do herself. And she said of course, you know, of course she does! When a kitchen appliance breaks down she calls an electrician, when a tap or a water pipe leaks she calls a plumber. So, I just wanted to share this with you as an example of kaleidoscopic understanding. To challenge any assumptions about what constitutes dependence on others and how this gets evaluated in different contexts. Are some instances of dependence on others more acceptable than others? Like anyone else, I am good at some things and need help with others; but I would find it very frustrating if others defined me by what I need help with. So I invite us all to think: what do we see when we look at somebody else, and how do we make sense of our sameness and our differences at the same time?

I would like us now to turn our attention to institutional barriers, first of all. The education system that we have in the UK today, has its roots in the end of the 19th century. At that time disabled people were thought to have no place in ordinary mainstream life and institutions. Specifically for their “care” (quote-unquote), whole institutions were built, maintained and run, so people were rooted out of their families and local communities, and were made to live in those institutions. It is very encouraging to see that, not only the UK, but the whole of the world has moved forward from there and nowadays we no longer do such inhumane acts in the name of people’s own good. The uncompromised right of disabled adults to inclusion in ordinary life and mainstream institutions has been made absolutely explicit in national and international legislation. That said, we have somehow become accustomed to maintaining some separate institutions when it comes to education. We call them “special” schools. But these grew out of, they evolved, from a system that was based on a very different mindset and on very different moral values. And, even though society’s stance to disability has moved on in most areas, in education we have somehow allowed the past to continue to shape our future. At a time when schools are increasingly expected to provide personalized learning, I can see no reason why tailor-made provision has to take place in separate institutions. If we focus too much on differences, we may miss what children share in common. If we focus on the perception that some children need concentrated support by adult specialists, we may end up trumping their need for daily contact with their non-disabled peers (not to mention the sense of belonging to one’s local community, which most of us take for granted). I recently wrote about this, and suggested that sending a child to a separate “special” school might feel similar to placing a child in hospital without allowing family or friends to visit, on the grounds that the child needs the medical intervention.

So this is why I suggest we use our kaleidoscopic understanding, to look again at where we assume children should go to school and why. I used to work in special schools and was proud of the tailor-made provision we were offering. At that stage, I was taking the merit of what we were doing as self-evident. I have since turned my kaleidoscope. Please don’t get me wrong; this is not a criticism of the people who work in separate “special” schools. It is merely a reflection on a status quo that many people take for granted. It is an invitation to consider, from the perspective of disabled children and their families, what it might be like to hear that your local school is not geared up for people like you. In the 21st century, can we really justify closing the local schools’ doors on some young people, in the name of their own good? The UK government has made a strong commitment to parental choice. But where is the choice of mainstream for those who want it? Disabled adults have repeatedly told us that education in segregated settings leads to adult lives in the margins of society. I really wish I had a bit longer to tell you more about what some special school survivors say, but I do not. So I want us to leave this section by considering: What is it that we think is important about education? What is it that we want children to learn in schools? Do they all need to learn to read and write and do maths? Do children also need to learn about being with others, about making and keeping friends? What purposes other than learning do schools serve? And I want us to use our kaleidoscopic understanding to look at schools and just explore and challenge our assumptions. And to keep asking constructive questions. If we need to ask a question, I would avoid asking: “can we?” – you know, can this child come to our school? – but would ask instead: “how can we?” Here is a member of our local community. This is their local school. How can we reorganise what we are doing? How can we make sure that this young person benefits as much as possible by coming to our school? Unless ordinary local schools routinely see the education of all children in their local community as their responsibility, and unless they are supported to develop their capacity to do this, the government’s promise of choice will not apply to some families. And I think we have seen enough evidence over the past few days that practical difficulties can be overcome, when people focus on disabled people’s right to belong in their local community. That is enough about institutional barriers- Well, it isn’t, but it has to be for now.

In addition to what I have already said about attitudinal barriers, I just want to add a plea for us all to keep considering the question of: “what do you see when you look at me?” Perhaps we can reflect back over a number of things that have been said here over the past few days. I remember Mithu yesterday said, at the end of her presentation, that she has learnt to look at people differently and to respect them whatever language they speak. And to me, that is an excellent example of kaleidoscopic understanding. You know, if you shift your viewpoint, you see something that you may not have initially seen. We heard, I don’t know where Marty is, but we heard from Eva Sweeney this morning, that sometimes others see first and only her impairment, and that her aides actually help others to see things differently. So I invite us all to keep using our kaleidoscopic understanding, and encourage others to use theirs too. And to focus not so much on the differences we observe between people, but to shift our viewpoint; look again, and pay more attention to what we all share in common.

Let me also take a moment to reflect on some points already made about terminology. Yesterday morning Mônica invited us to consider the implications of using terms such as “high functioning autism”. And later in the day Richard Rieser described how the words “impairment” and “disability” are used in the UK, and encouraged us to mark the clear distinction between the two. I believe that our thinking is often reflected in the language we use, but it also works the other way round: the words that we choose to use can help shape our thinking. So I invite us all to remain alert to our choice of words and to any assumptions implicit in them.

At this point I would like to introduce you to the work of Ursus Wehrli. For those of you who may not know him, Ursus Wehrli is a Swiss comedian and artist. He has taken works of art, intervened in one way or another, and re-presented them in alternative and often amusing ways. He has called this “Tidying up Art”, which is the title of his first book. And I want to share some of this with you. I think what he has done captures in a visual image what I have been trying to say about kaleidoscopic understanding. Now, is there anybody in this room that cannot see the screen? [Response from the floor] OK, I will describe to you what it is that we are seeing.

This is the first slide and it shows a series of vertical lines in groups of five, followed by two columns of semi-quavers, then a column of quavers, then more columns, each of a particular type of musical notation: bar lines, phrase marks, clefs, rests, accidentals etc. So many aspects of musical notation neatly organised by type and each presented in a separate column. And here is the next slide, in which all those fragments of musical notation appear together. And those of you who are familiar with Western musical notation, may recognise this as the beginning of Beethoven’s Für Elise; a piece of music that many people know and it kind of fits together, it holds together – it’s got the melody, it’s got the harmony and the rhythm all in one coherent whole. So I wanted to share this with you as a visual analogy of what we might be doing if we pay too close attention to particular aspects of people. We run the risk of only seeing the first picture, the fragmented elements. Whereas when we look at people as a whole, we are more likely to see the second picture: we get melody, harmony and rhythm all rolled into one and only then can we feel the beauty of the music.

And I will show you one more of those. So the first of this pair of slides shows blocks of colours. And I particularly like this... So there is a white square, next to it a column of yellow squares, then a column of red squares, orange squares, green, blue and dark blue squares, each column a different height. I used to work for Portage, a home-visiting programme for pre-school children, and the materials were colour-coded according to which aspect of the child’s development you were focusing on; so this might be their self-help skills, motor skills, language or social skills. And the Portage materials had colours very similar to these. And actually, the real work of art is this, here in the final slide: a work of art by Paul Klee. This is a fusion of all the coloured squares together, arranged in a sort of patchwork pattern that, once again, has cohesion and enables one to see the beauty of the whole.

So I leave you with the thought that I have given you today – I haven’t given you kaleidoscopic understanding, you’ve all got it – but I have given you the notion of it. And I would like to invite you all to keep using your kaleidoscopic understanding, challenging any assumptions about what is best for other people, and encouraging others to do so too. Thank you very much.

Footnote 1

Following this presentation I was approached by Professor Gary Bunch, Chair of the Marsha Forrest Centre in Toronto, Canada, who said that Marsha Forrest had also used a kaleidoscope metaphor. I have since found a reference to this (https://inclusion.com/1992/common-sense-tools-maps-and-circles-for-inclusive-education/). It seems to refer to the beauty of the whole, as it speaks of the kaleidoscope as a metaphor for “a medley of people working together to make something unique and better happen”. My analogy is based more on the fluctuation of the image. back >>

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New Index for Inclusion translation

6 March 2012

Index for Inclusion - Chile translation

The CSIE publication "Index for Inclusion: developing learning and participation in schools” (Booth and Ainscow 2011, 3rd edition) has recently been translated into Spanish for use in Chile.

It will be launched at the conference “International Meeting about Inclusive Education: Developing Learning and Participation in Schools” due to be held in Santiago next Tuesday, 13 March. Keynote presentations include “Developing education for ourselves; gaining support from the index for inclusion” by Professor Tony Booth, principal author of the Index, and "A School Improvement Project from the Index of Inclusion: Intervention Perspective in the Chilean Context" by Index translator Dr Yolanda Muñoz Martinez, from the University of Alcalá. The conference will be followed by workshops to establish linked projects on the Index for Inclusion in Chile, Peru, Paraguay and Columbia.

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Support for LGBT young people

16 February 2012

CSIE is working with Bath Spa University's Centre for Education Policy in Practice on a project with secondary schools in Wiltshire to help make young lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people feel safer and more included within their schools and wider lives.

Young people from GoGs youth Group

Em Williams from CSIE is collaborating with Richard Parker, Director of Bath Spa University’s Centre for Education Policy in Practice (EPIP) and the GoGs Youth Group (which is short for 'Group Of Gays') on an Action Research project. GoGs have been meeting in Wiltshire since October 2011 under the auspices of the Wiltshire Council Youth work team to support lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) young people. The project is about devising ways of helping the young people feel heard, valued and included within their schools and wider lives.

The group have engaged in work around marketing and audiences, as well as engaged in some drama actvities that will form part of a resource pack for schools. Using a series of ‘scenes’ that have occurred to them, or that they have witnessed within their own lives, the group have re-worked the narrative so that they are left feeling in control and valued. Some members of the group have recently attended a national conference in London where they have spoken about the project, their school experiences and the value of GoGs as a safe space in their lives.

The young people met and impressed Janet Palmer, HMI inspector for Ofsted as well as Sarah from My Transsexual Summer and have since given a number of radio interviews about their experiences at the conference.

Richard Parker commented: “There is a danger that LGBT teenagers in schools feel they are not supported or understood. Teachers may not have sufficient guidance to tackle homophobic bullying or include LGBT identity issues in the curriculum. This project is helping address these issues in schools in Wiltshire, but the resources being produced will be helpful to schools across the country.”

The project will run until July 2012 when we intend to have a celebratory event. A final report will be available, via the CSIE website at this time.

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Page last updated: Tuesday 25 May 2021

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