Centre for Studies on Inclusive Education

supporting inclusion, challenging exclusion

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Intelligent Lives

29 November 2019

Intelligent Lives

Many thanks to all who came to yesterday’s free screening of Intelligent Lives, the latest film by award-winning filmmaker Dan Habib, and joined in the public discussion which followed. The event was organised by CSIE in collaboration with the BRIDGE research group at the University of the West of England (UWE) in Bristol, a most apt partnership for an event which involves the exchange of ideas.

Intelligent Lives tells the stories of three young adults with learning difficulties as they navigate school, college and the workplace. The film encourages viewers to explore their thinking about learning difficulties and hopes to transform the label from a life sentence of isolation into a life of possibility.

In the discussion which followed the screening there was much praise for the film, and how it brought issues to life extremely effectively. Viewers were captivated by the three young adults' stories and commented on these, as well as on more general issues such as the importance of role models and of attending to everyone's perspective, including parents of other children in school and professionals who offer well-intentioned advice without always acknowledging that they might be on a different personal philosophical standpoint to that of the child's family. The highlight of the evening was perhaps the moment when one viewer said that the event transformed them, and they would be leaving the auditorium a different person to the one they were when they came in.

The second screening of Intelligent Lives scheduled for Sheffield next week has had to be cancelled, for reasons beyond our control, and will be rescheduled for next year. We also look forward to organising more free screenings of the film, each followed by a public discussion, across the country.

We remain grateful to filmmaker Dan Habib and the Intelligent Lives Project for selecting CSIE to organise these events in the UK.

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IMAS II project update

30 October 2019

IMASII

CSIE continues to be involved in the IMAS II project (IMproving ASsistance in inclusive educational settings II). Last week project partners met in Varna, Bulgaria, on 21 and 22 October to discuss progress on the development of the five online Knowledge Boxes. This was followed by a training activity on 23-25 October, during which learning support assistants from all countries represented in this project (Austria, Bulgaria, Portugal, Slovakia and the UK) came together to hear about ongoing work on the Knowledge Boxes being created by project partners, and offer feedback which contributes to their further development. Ongoing work presented on this occasion involved the Knowledge Box on Physical & Sensory Impairments, and the Knowledge Box on Cognition & Learning.

The IMAS II project is a two-year project funded by the Erasmus+ programme of the European Union (2018-1-AT01-KA202-039302). The project was launched in October 2018 at the University of Graz, Austria, he of the lead partner. It seeks to support and strengthen the development of learning support assistants' competencies for inclusive practice, in ways which are consistent with the requirements of Article 24 (Education) of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. CSIE is one of nine project partners from six European countries. For more information please see the project newsletter.

Erasmus

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Intelligent Lives

28 October 2019

Intelligent Lives

We are delighted to announce that this year CSIE will be marking UK Disability History Month with two free screenings of the film Intelligent Lives. This is the latest film by award-winning filmmaker Dan Habib. It tells the stories of three young adults with learning difficulties as they navigate school, college and the workplace. The film encourages viewers to explore their thinking about learning difficulties and hopes to transform the label from a life sentence of isolation into a life of possibility.

Each screening will be followed by a community discussion. What do we lose when intelligence is a number? What are the implications of having the label of “learning difficulties”? And can any attempt to measure intelligence predict a person's value, or their potential to contribute meaningfully to the world?

These free screenings and community discussions are a must for learning support assistants, teachers, senior leaders and school governors who care about equal opportunities for every child. The events are also relevant to students, researchers, academics, families and other members of the public.

These events are being organised by CSIE, in collaboration with a local partner for each event: the BRIDGE research group at the University of the West of England (UWE) in Bristol, and iHuman, the University of Sheffield, in Sheffield.

Do come do one of the free screenings and join the conversation:

Bristol:

Thursday 28 November, 6:00-8:00 pm

www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/intelligent-lives-film-screening-bristol-tickets-78326872785

Sheffield:

Wednesday 4 December, 6:00-8:00 pm

www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/intelligent-lives-film-screening-sheffield-tickets-79123623889

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Contrasting responses to diversity

30 July 2019

CSIE has been reporting, since the 1980s, school placement trends of all local authorities in England (i.e. the proportion of children sent by each local authority to separate special schools within or outside the local authority’s boundaries). This detailed level of analysis, ranking of all local authorities from the one with the lowest to the one with the highest proportion of children in special schools, is unique to CSIE.

Work on the latest issue in this series, covering the years 2014-17, has now been completed with the help of a grant from the British Academy, to whom we remain grateful. We have, once again, worked in collaboration with researchers at the University of Exeter: Professor Brahm Norwich, Dr Alison Black and Dr Yi Liu (who has since moved to the University of Bristol). Findings of this research were presented at an open seminar in London in April 2019.

For the first time in the history of the Trends series, we are making the latest information freely available online: a report written by Dr Alison Black and Professor Brahm Norwich, a summary leaflet and a web application developed by Dr Yi Liu which includes: a) an interactive map; b) detailed information on rates of segregation for each local authority; and c) lists of all local authorities arranged from the least to the most segregating for each of the years examined. A manual is also available to help users access the information on the web application.

By referring to rates of segregation, this research adopts terminology put forward by the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. In its General Comment no. 4, the Committee explains how segregation, integration and inclusion should be understood, given that Article 24 (Education) of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities requires the development of an inclusive education system at all levels. Segregation, which is not mentioned in Article 24, is defined as the education of disabled students in separate settings, isolated from non-disabled students. Integration, the Committee says, is the process of placing disabled students in existing mainstream institutions and expecting them to adjust to the requirements of these institutions. Inclusion, on the other hand, is the process of “systemic reform” involving changes in content, methods, approaches, structures and strategies in education, so that all students can have an equitable and participatory learning experience.

As has always been the case in the Trends series, this research is merely descriptive: it gives information on the proportion of pupils placed in different types of settings, without commenting on pupils’ experiences or attempting to explain the trends observed, both of which are beyond the remit of this research.

This research shows that there has been a rising national trend of special school placements over the last 10 years. Like other Trends reports before it, it also suggests a postcode lottery for inclusive education: there continues to be huge variation in the rates of segregation into special schools of children with Education and Health Care Plans. Some local authorities consistently rely more on mainstream settings, while others regularly send high proportions of children to special schools. In 2017 the proportion of children sent to special schools ranged from 0.18% (the equivalent of 1 child in every 552) in the London Borough of Newham, to 1.75% (the equivalent of 1 child in every 57) in Torbay. That is close to a tenfold difference! While there are small variations from year to year, these patterns remain relatively constant: most local authorities send to special schools roughly the same proportion of pupils from year to year.

Such significant differences between local authorities cannot easily be explained by the size or type of a local authority or by its social or geographical characteristics. Further research is needed in order to understand these diverse patterns.

Despite every local authority being subject to the same national policies and legislation, CSIE Trends reports keep bringing to light disturbing local variations. The significance of this research is twofold: up-to-date information can empower parents to make better informed choices for their children’s education, and it can help parents, professionals and others to lobby for change. Previous reports in the Trends series are available from CSIE.

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Happy Birthday CSIE!

28 June 2019

On this day CSIE celebrates 37 years of remarkable achievements! Founded on 28 June 1982 as the Centre for Studies on Integration in Education, CSIE took on its current name in the 1990s. The Centre has continued to evolve, has expanded its remit to cover all aspects of equality in education, and has remained at the forefront of developments in inclusive education. Within the past year alone, CSIE has:

Happy Birthday CSIE, we all wish that you keep going from strength to strength and continue to be valued for achievements at the cutting edge of educational change!

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Widening participation for disabled students

20 June 2019

The report is now available from a small-scale study commissioned by the Widening Participation Research Group of the University of Bristol. The study set out to understand disabled students’ experiences of studying at the University of Bristol, to shed light on any barriers to disabled students’ presence, learning and participation at the University, and to put forward recommendations for developing a more inclusive environment.

The research was carried out by CSIE’s director Artemi Sakellariadis, in collaboration with Dr Dave Bainton, Research Fellow at the University of Bristol. The study adopted the definition of disability as this appears in the Equality Act 2010 and, therefore, sought to engage with students who identify as disabled according to this definition: those who have a physical or mental impairment, including mental health issues, which has a substantial and long-term negative effect on their ability to carry out ordinary daily activities.

The study adopted a qualitative research approach. In the summer of 2017 students were first invited to share their experiences through an online survey (22 participants) and later discuss these in greater detail during narrative interviews (12 participants) which continued into the autumn of that year. Participants came from a range of faculties, were engaged in undergraduate and postgraduate studies, included mature students and had a range of impairments. The report suggests that the sample may be relatively small, but the lived experience of these students is very real and worthy of rapt attention.

The report foregrounds the voice of students and represents their experiences with regard to: support for their studies; support for personal needs related to their impairments; their understanding of barriers to inclusion; and the impact all this has had on their studies. Reflecting on these students’ experiences, and attempting to open up possibilities for reconceptualising support for disabled students and improve student experience and outcomes, the report suggests three broad areas for consideration: seeing the whole person, creating parity of experience and engaging in transformative problem-solving.

The University of Bristol is consistently ranked among the top ten UK Universities for its overall teaching and research output. By attending to the above areas, the report suggests, the University will be better placed to offer greater equality of opportunity for disabled students in the future. It should also be further enabled to operate in line with the requirements of the Equality Act 2010 and of Article 24 (Education) of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

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IMAS II Project update

17 May 2019

Erasmuse IMASII

CSIE’s contribution to the IMAS II project (IMproving ASsistance in inclusive educational settings II), took us to Portugal last week. Project partners met in Coimbra on 6 and 7 May to discuss progress on the development of five online “knowledge boxes”. We then moved to picturesque Lousã, home of project partner ARCIL and were joined by learning supporters from Austria, Bulgaria, Portugal, Slovakia and the UK (all participating countries in this project). For the next three days we immersed ourselves in the content of the knowledge boxes on behaviour and on communication, visited a local school and shared our collective reflections on the whole event.

The IMAS II project is a two-year project funded by the Erasmus+ programme of the European Union (2018-1-AT01-KA202-039302). The project was launched in October 2018 at the University of Graz, Austria, home of the lead partner. It seeks to support and strengthen the development of learning support assistants' competencies for inclusive practice, in ways which are consistent with the requirements of Article 24 (Education) of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. CSIE is one of nine project partners from six European countries. For more information please see the project newsletter.

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Redefining ‘quality of education’

05 April 2019

The Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) has had an open consultation, inviting feedback on its proposed new inspection framework “Education inspection framework 2019: inspecting the substance of education”, which is expected to be introduced in September.

In its response, CSIE welcomed the proposal to introduce a ‘quality of education’ judgement, seeing this as a more inclusive approach, shifting the emphasis away from performance outcomes. It added that this could be more closely aligned with the statutory duty which schools have, under the Equality Act 2010, to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to respond to the needs of disabled pupils. As this is an anticipatory duty, CSIE suggested that any evaluation of the quality of education should include an evaluation of the school’s readiness to respond to the needs of existing and prospective disabled pupils, as is the legal requirement. CSIE also asked for greater clarity on the criteria which inspectors will use to make judgements on the quality and implementation of Education and Health Care Plans, particularly for children and young people who have low incidence needs.

CSIE also suggested that the new inspection framework should be more closely aligned with key themes from the Code of Practice, such as the concepts of person-centred planning, empowerment and preparing for adulthood, to help ensure that schools are encouraged and supported in its implementation.

With regard to the Equality, diversity and inclusion statement which formed part of the same consultation, CSIE’s response welcomed the existence of this document and its clear emphasis on the public sector equality duty. At the same time CSIE expressed concern at the apparent hierarchy of protected characteristics and the implication that some should be given priority over others, as there is no such hierarchy suggested in the Equality Act. At a time when homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying continue to be rife in schools, the protected characteristics of sexual orientation and gender reassignment are just as important as those listed as more relevant to schools.

Last but not least, in its response CSIE suggested that the new framework offers an excellent opportunity to reinstate the limiting judgement according to which a school cannot be judged to be outstanding unless it can evidence its work to promote disability equality and increase its capacity to respond to the needs of disabled children and young people. This would be in line with the Government’s declaration of 2009, made in the process of ratifying the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which states that the UK Government is committed to “continuing to develop an inclusive system where parents of disabled children have increasing access to mainstream schools and staff, which have the capacity to meet the needs of disabled children”.

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Royal Thanks

03 April 2019

Royal Invite Windsor Castle

CSIE’s director Artemi Sakellariadis attended a Reception at Windsor Castle yesterday, 2 April, celebrating 100 years of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO). 200 charities were invited to attend, from a total of 14,000 NCVO members, ensuring a balanced representation of charities of different size, location and objectives. The Queen and members of The Royal Family were present at the event and spoke to guests. We are not permitted to share on our website photographs from the event itself, but were proud and honoured to hear that The Queen said to Artemi “Thank you for what you do”.

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Postcode lottery for inclusion?

12 March 2019

CSIE has been working with researchers at the University of Exeter to explore school placement trends (i.e. the proportion of children placed in special schools or other separate settings) of all local authorities in England. CSIE has been reporting local authority school placement trends since 1988. Work towards this latest report has been funded by the British Academy, to whom we remain grateful.

This report provides up-to-date information for the years 2014-17. It shows that there has been a rising national trend of special school placements over the last 10 years. Like other Trends reports before it, it also suggests a postcode lottery for inclusive education: there continues to be huge variation in the rates of inclusion into mainstream schools of children with Education and Health Care Plans. Some local authorities consistently rely more on mainstream settings, while others regularly send high proportions of children to special schools. In 2017 the proportion of children sent to special schools ranged from 0.18% (the equivalent of 1 child in every 556) in the London Borough of Newham, to 1.75% (the equivalent of 1 child in every 57) in Torbay. That is close to a tenfold difference! While there are small variations from year to year, these patterns persist in a way which renders the most inclusive and least inclusive local authorities consistently so.

Such significant differences bear no simple relation to the size of a local authority or its social or geographical characteristics. Further research is needed in order to understand such diverse patterns.

This latest report will be presented at an open seminar in London on Wednesday 10 April. The event is free but places are limited and must be booked in advance. For further information and to book your place please visit the eventbrite website.

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Page last updated: Wednesday 29 July 2020

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