Centre for Studies on Inclusive Education

supporting inclusion, challenging exclusion

news & events

Access as a fundamental human right

21 December 2020

Hand-drawing of large picture made up of 30 segments, each of which represents one way of making schools more accessible.

During UK Disability History Month (UKDHM) CSIE run the “30 ways in 30 days” social media campaign. Each day we shared an example of how to improve access in schools and other educational settings, which we hope will continue to inspire change for a long time to come.

Throughout Disability History Month, each day we shared one suggestion for making schools more accessible. Each daily post included an image, presented as a piece from a jigsaw puzzle, and a short description of the suggestion. At the end of the Month, we are delighted to present the full picture which emerges when all the puzzle pieces are joined together.

UK Disability History Month is an annual event creating a platform to focus on the history of disabled people’s struggle for equality and human rights. This year it run from 18th November until 18th December and its theme was “Access: How far have we come? How far have we to go?”

We remain grateful to our wonderful volunteer Ruth Thornton, who has worked tirelessly to plan this campaign and to create every single image for it.

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The gift of connection

18 November 2020

Last week CSIE received the gift of a free Zoom licence and webinar licence from Schools OUT UK, who had themselves received a number of complimentary licences from Zoom. It is a wonderful and significant gift which will help CSIE to continue many of its activities online as the pandemic continues. Furthermore, thanks to this gift CSIE hopes to be able to reach even more people, spreading our vision for all children to be safe, included and learning in their local school.

Here are some of the ways CSIE is planning to use this fantastic gift:

This generous gift is much appreciated and provides a real opportunity for CSIE: both to make internal communication more effective and to innovate regarding how CSIE carries out its work on promoting equality in education. We would, therefore, like to extend our sincerest thanks to Zoom and to Schools OUT UK. Thank you!

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CSIE celebrates UK Disability History Month 2020

17 November 2020

ID from @pacingpixie: blue background with disability wheelchair symbol. On it there is the following steps arranged in a circle to illustrate a cycle: inaccessibility-disabled people unable to participate - disabled people not seen in public - disabled people seen as outlier/rarity- 'so we don't need to consider them'- inaccessibility

Image by @pacingpixie

UK Disability History Month (UKDHM) is an annual event creating a platform to focus on the history of disabled people’s struggle for equality and human rights. This year it runs from 18th November until 18th December and its theme is “Access: How far have we come? How far have we to go?”

To mark the event, CSIE will be running a social media campaign highlighting a range of ways to make schools more accessible for all. Each day CSIE will share an example of how to improve access in schools and other educational settings, aiming to:

Each example will be described in words, as well as in an image in the form of a puzzle piece. We acknowledge that the image may be inaccessible to some people, but at the same time may make the message more accessible for others. At the end of the month all the pieces will fit together to create a bigger image of an accessible classroom, which can be used for future reference.

The suggestion that schools should become more accessible for disabled pupils is not new. It has been a legal requirement since 2002 that schools must have an Accessibility Plan which sets out how the school will improve access to the physical environment, and to the curriculum, for disabled pupils. In January 2020 the Alliance for Inclusive Education reported that many schools are failing to meet this legal duty.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is also relevant here. In addition to Article 24 (Education) which calls for an inclusive education system at all levels, Article 9 (Accessibility) states: “To enable persons with disabilities to live independently and participate fully in all aspects of life, States parties shall take appropriate measures to ensure to persons with disabilities access, on an equal basis with others, to the physical environment, to transportation, to information and communication including information and communication technologies and systems, and to other facilities and services open or provided to the public, both in urban and in rural areas. These measures shall include the identification and elimination of obstacles and barriers to accessibility”. The UK government ratified this convention in 2009, recognising accessibility as a human right.

If as a society we are to secure access for disabled people, then each and every one of us should think carefully about what we do and, more importantly, how we do it. It does not matter if we are considering something new or reviewing a long-established practice, we have to make sure that we do nothing which might unintentionally prevent disabled people from taking part. No matter how deeply committed to disability equality we might be, it is still possible that we may have overlooked an access issue and there will always be things that can be improved.

So this UK Disability History Month, join us on this journey of exploring access in schools, and let us all become agents of change! Look out for our daily posts on Facebook and twitter and please share these, to help spread the word as widely as possible!

We remain grateful to our wonderful volunteer Ruth Thornton, who has worked tirelessly to create every single post of this campaign.

Happy UK Disability History Month!

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Free online resources available

10 November 2020

Knowledge Box

CSIE has been a partner in the IMAS II project (IMproving ASsistance in inclusive educational settings II) and the original IMAS project before it. Project partners have recently completed five Knowledge Boxes for use by Learning and Support Assistants, and any others interested in any of the topics covered: Disabled Children’s Rights in Education; Interaction & Communication; Cognition & Learning; Physical & Sensory Impairment; and Emotions & Behaviour. Each Knowledge Box contains theoretical information as well as practical strategies and approaches for supporting disabled children and young people in school and includes a wide range of materials.

The Knowledge Boxes are available free of charge, upon free registration on the D-LoT platform (Disability Leaders of Tomorrow). A small number of Learning & Support Assistants from all partner countries have worked with a first draft of the Knowledge Boxes and offered feedback. The Knowledge Boxes have been further developed and are now more widely available in English. The next phase of the project, to translate the Knowledge Boxes in the local language of each of the project partners, is underway and is expected to be completed next month. A more thorough evaluation has been planned and will take place before the project concludes. For more information please see the most recent IMAS II newsletter.

The IMAS II project is a two-year project funded by the Erasmus+ programme of the European Union (2018-1-AT01-KA202-039302). It was launched in October 2018 at the University of Graz, Austria, home of the lead partner, and has recently been granted an extension necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic. The project seeks to support and strengthen the development of learning and 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 visit the project website.

project number:2018-1-AT01-KA202-039302

IMAS II homepage

IMASII Erasmus

“The European Commission support for the production of the publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents which reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.”

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No child should be “hard to place”

19 October 2020

CSIE has responded to the Department for Education’s consultation on Changes to the School Admissions Code. CSIE’s main response to this consultation was included in the response from the collective voice of the Special Educational Consortium. In its additional submission CSIE drew particular attention to the following two issues:

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New equality guide for Early Years

15 September 2020

mini guide

We are delighted to announce that nasen has commissioned CSIE to write a new equality guide for Early Years, to complement nasen’s existing miniguide series.

The new resource is expected to cover all aspects of equality and be completed by the end of March 2021. It will be based on issues put forward by Early Years practitioners in the coming weeks.

This is an open invitation for staff working in any Early Years setting (childminders; state, private, voluntary or independent nurseries; or Reception classes) to send us any equality-related issues or questions which concern them as soon as possible, and no later than 30 September. Questions may be on any aspect of equality such as, for example:

How can we support a member of staff who is transitioning to another gender?

How can we ensure a newly arrived refugee family feels included in our local community?

How can we encourage and support friendships between children from diverse backgrounds?

How can we ensure equality of opportunity for a child with learning difficulties?

Please send us your questions or concerns through social media: www.twitter.com/csie_uk or www.facebook.com/csie.uk. Alternatively, you can write to us at admin@csie.org.uk.

We are also inviting early years settings to collaborate with us in the process of creating the new miniguide. We are looking for 6-8 settings to nominate an experienced member of staff who will work with us exploring the issues raised and offer examples of good practice to be included in the new guide. We anticipate having 2-3 online meetings in the autumn term lasting no more than an hour each, and one more meeting in the spring term. We will consider these settings as project partners and acknowledge their contribution in the published resource.

If you would like to nominate an Early Years setting to work with us in this exciting new project, please email us at admin@csie.org.uk, with “nomination for equality miniguide” in the subject line, and tell us: a) the name and address of the setting; b) the reason for your nomination; and c) name, role and contact details for us to get in touch. Thank you!

Later this term we will also invite Early Years settings to pilot the new resource at the start of 2021 – watch this space!

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A bias towards segregation?

22 July 2020

The government has announced that more than 3,000 thousand places will be created in 37 new special free schools to be opened throughout England.

CSIE applauds the intention to provide tailored support for children categorised as having “special educational needs and disabilities (SEND)”. At the same time, however, there seems to be no indication of a parallel effort to increase capacity in mainstream schools to provide for the full diversity of learners. This seems inconsistent with the government’s pledge of parental choice.

CSIE has shown, through its Trends reports which date back to the 1980s, that the proportion of children in special schools in England has been steadily rising in recent years. This means that the country’s ordinary schools are the main place of education for a continually decreasing proportion of all children and young people.

The UK has been repeatedly criticised for failing to develop inclusive education by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, for example in the concluding observations of its examination of the UK in 2016 and, more recently, the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in its concluding observations following its 2017 review of the UK’s compliance with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The government has repeatedly stated that all parents have a choice of type of school for their child. Part III of the Children and Families Act 2014 concerns the education of children and young people categorised as having special educational needs or disabilities. The Code of Practice provides statutory guidance on how the law should be put into practice. Paragraph 1.26, on p.25, states very clearly that the UK Government is committed to developing more inclusive education and that the law has a presumption of inclusion in mainstream schools for disabled children and young people.

No matter how welcome this intention might be, the fact remains that if parents have to make their choice in a context where mainstream schools are not willing or able to offer a place to their child, their choice becomes severely limited. This effectively creates a chicken-and-egg relationship between parental choice and the context in which it takes place. In other words, until schools in every part of the country are willing and able to include the full diversity of learners, the promise of parental choice remains hollow.

As CSIE has said before, offering an entitlement without developing inclusive schools is like issuing a ticket and keeping the door locked.

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CSIE has received the gift of hope

10 July 2020


All is well that ends well! As CSIE approached its 38th birthday, the situation was looking rather gloomy. As we have mentioned in recent news stories, like many charities, CSIE has been facing financial uncertainty prior to Covid-19 rearing its ugly head, however with the global pandemic, things were looking particularly troublesome. CSIE was facing the very real possibility that we could not continue to operate. Our director, Artemi, managed to save the charity from closing immediately in her heroic efforts in the ‘2.6 challenge’ where she ran 26 x 2.6 miles. This sustained the charity for a little longer, however, there is only so much running Artemi could do and this was not a long term solution.

Inclusive Solutions wanted to do something to help, so they offered a PATH (Planning Alternative Tomorrows with Hope) session to CSIE as a ‘Many Happy Returns’ birthday gift. As they describe on their website, PATH is a facilitated group person-centred planning session. It draws on people’s ability to imagine different futures for individuals or an organisation such as CSIE, and from this vision or dream, it is possible to plan backwards to tell a story about how that vision came into being. The development of a graphic runs throughout the planning process, which once completed can be used to focus on the path ahead. CSIE trustees were incredibly grateful to Inclusive Solutions for this wonderful gift.

On 30th June 2020, nearly 40 CSIE friends and allies gathered online to take part in the PATH session for CSIE. Everyone in attendance was passionate about improving inclusion, and the energy in the virtual room was palpable. CSIE had drawn together CSIE supporters and allies from across the world, united by a desire to find a way to find a way for CSIE not only to survive, but to be able to thrive. The PATH session was an opportunity to celebrate CSIE’s achievements over the last 38 years, whilst also thinking about how CSIE can have a successful future supporting inclusion and challenging exclusionary practices.

The session was facilitated by Colin Newton and Elliot Newton. At the start of the event colleagues from the IMAS II project presented CSIE with a surprise gift card, pictured here. The original IMAS project (IMproving ASsistance in inclusive educational settings) was launched in November 2016 and the current follow-up IMAS II project in October 2018. The project focuses on the education of disabled children and young people in Europe, with the aim of establishing a common framework for how assistance should be provided to support learning and participation in schools. With this gift card, the IMAS II team wanted to express their gratitude to Artemi and CSIE for their continued contribution to the project, in the form of a graphic with quotes from all partners setting out hope for continued collaboration in the future. This introduction set the tone for the rest of the session, which drew together passionate advocates for inclusion, who could collectively work together to develop a vision for CSIE to be able to continue the vitally important role we play in developing best practice frameworks and resources that promote and enable inclusive practices, in order to improve how education settings include disabled pupils.

The three-hour-long session flew by, with whole group discussions being supplemented by small breakout groups which were organised to make sure that everyone had an opportunity to speak. Fortunately the technology did not fail us! As the ideas flowed and the graphic started to form, it was clear to see how everyone in attendance valued CSIE and our work, and that the PATH session was just the start of everyone working together, with a renewed sense of purpose and a shared vision. Not only was it important for CSIE to become self-sustainable and to have clarity of purpose and a plan for moving forward, but it was necessary to work together to change the dialogue, to challenge perspectives and to work collaboratively to improve inclusion. At the end of the session, a number of actions were agreed, including the need for friends and allies to continue to meet and work together.

After the session, CSIE has also received two donations, which will not only ensure CSIE is safe for now, but also will give CSIE staff, trustees, and friends and allies, the time and space to review the wonderful ideas that were generated in the PATH session and to build a business plan which will lead to CSIE being able to move towards the vision imagined. We will be taking up offers of help from those who attended the session, for which we are very grateful indeed. We know there are many more advocates for inclusion who were not able to attend the event. If you wish to contact us to discuss how you can support CSIE in its next stages, we would love to hear from you. Alternatively, please do look at our website for the myriad of other ways you can support our work.

Thank you to Inclusive Solutions for their generous gift of hope for CSIE, and to everyone who attended the PATH event and helped us picture what our future can look like. We look forward to working with you all to have an impact and to improve inclusion for disabled children and young people.

IMAS II Gift Card

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Happy Birthday CSIE!

28 June 2020

Happy Birthday CSIE

On this day CSIE celebrates 38 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:

CSIE has recently averted the sudden danger of having to fold, largely thanks to the fundraising efforts of its director who ran more than 70 km as part of a “2.6 challenge”. The donations page is still open, for anyone who wants to make a gift, large or small.

Last but not least, a PATH event (Planning Alternative Tomorrows with Hope) has been planned for Tuesday 30 June, which many of CSIE’s friends and allies are expected to attend from as far afield as Europe, Brazil, India and Canada. This is offered as a gift to CSIE by Inclusive Solutions, who offer a wide range of online training on a range of topics, including on person-centred planning, and to whom we remain grateful for this gift.

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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New internship

08 June 2020

We are delighted to welcome Ruth Thornton to the CSIE team! Ruth has joined us as a Research and Project Assistant for a month-long internship funded by the University of Bristol. Ruth, an undergraduate student studying French and German, searched for a local education charity when she heard of the University’s COVID-19 Small and Medium Enterprises scheme. This program aims to help organizations such as CSIE through these difficult times by paying the salary of a student intern for a month. Passionate as she is about promoting equality, Ruth chose to support CSIE and begins her internship today, Monday 8 June.

Ruth will be supporting CSIE’s ongoing efforts in fundraising, as well as contributing to work on current projects. We hope that, with her help, we will be able to set up a “matching” service, to pair up experienced educators with time on their hands, with children and young people needing additional support to learn from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. Ruth is a most welcome addition to the team and we extend our most heartfelt thanks to her, for choosing to support our work, and to the University of Bristol, for making this possible.

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Covid-19 and CSIE

23 April 2020

The good news is that CSIE staff and trustees are well, safe, and staying as positive as possible. In one sense it is business as usual: staff are busy working from home on existing projects. The IMAS II “Knowledge Box” on Disabled Children’s Rights in Education is nearing completion and will soon be available to school assistants who want to pilot it. Our long-awaited online Equality Hub is also nearing completion and should be available on www.tes.com when usual working conditions are restored. And we are still glowing with delight, at the memory of the IMAS project being selected as a “success story” and the international interest in CSIE following the Zero Project Conference 2020.

But all is not well. Bookings to deliver workshops and to speak at a conference have been cancelled and, with schools still closed, an important source of income is not available to us. CSIE’s future now hangs in the balance and, unless we find a way to cover a shortfall of £2,500 per month until schools reopen, CSIE will have to close.

That said, there is still hope. CSIE has joined the 2.6 challenge, a nationwide initiative to support the charity sector, starting this Sunday, 26 April. The idea is that people choose a challenge linked to the number 2.6 or 26 (because 26 April would have been the London Marathon, which raises millions for charities every year) and either make a donation to their chosen charity or ask family, friends and colleagues to sponsor them and make a bigger donation to their chosen charity. The challenge could be anything: walk, run, wheelchair, swim or cycle 2.6 miles, have an online meeting with 26 people, shrug your shoulders 26 times, literally anything. The only rule is to observe Government guidelines on exercising and social distancing. There is more information, including a wide range of challenge ideas, at www.twopointsixchallenge.co.uk.

CSIE’s director Artemi Sakellariadis has made a video describing her challenge.

We are also inviting our supporters to set up a challenge of their own to support CSIE. To do this, you will need to:

  1. sign in or create an account with Virgin Money Giving;
  2. click on ‘Take on a personal challenge’ and enter your challenge;
  3. select ‘2.6 Challenge’ when asked if you are doing a particular event;
  4. search and select CSIE when prompted to choose your charity;
  5. click on ‘Create my page’.

Many thanks in anticipation of your support! With your help we can keep CSIE on the map and continue to promote equality in education: addressing prejudice and working towards equal opportunities for all, especially for disabled children and young people!

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IMAS project a success story

31 March 2020


We have been delighted to hear that our earlier project on IMproving ASsistance in Inclusive Educational Settings (IMAS) has been selected as a “success story” by a panel of experts from the Directorate-General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture of the European Commission.

"Success stories" are finalised projects that have distinguished themselves by their impact, contribution to policy-making, innovative results and/or creative approach, and can be a source of inspiration for others.

The IMAS project took place in 2016-17 and was funded by the Erasmus+ programme of the European Commission (project number 2016-1-AT01-KA202-016778). It focused on the education of disabled children and young people in Europe, with the aim of establishing a common framework for scrutinising how assistance is organised in schools.

The project stemmed from the fact that the European Union and all member states have ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) and, therefore, the European educational systems have to become inclusive. All children and young people should be able to rely on professional staff to enable their learning and participation in school. For disabled children and young people, non-teaching staff (learning support assistants, teaching assistants or similar) play a vital role in enabling them to successfully engage in every aspect of compulsory and post compulsory education.

The IMAS project set an important first step to draw attention to assistance services at national and European level, on the understanding that these play an important role in developing a more inclusive education system consistent with the requirements of the UNCRPD. The project demonstrated that there are no clear and consistent frameworks for availability, quality and responsibilities of learning support assistants in schools and other educational settings. It also showed that in some regions of Europe the possibility of making assistance services routinely available to disabled children does not exist.

The project put forward a set of recommendations, which were intended to provide orientation for decision makers and assist them in further developing assistance services in their countries, in ways which are consistent with the requirements of the UNCRPD.

CSIE is currently involved in the follow-up project, IMAS II, a two-year project which was launched in October 2018 and is also funded by the Erasmus+ programme of the European Commission (project number 2018-1-AT01-KA202-039302). CSIE is one of nine project partners from six European countries, working to develop five web-based “Knowledge Boxes” for learning support assistants working with disabled children and young people.

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International interest in CSIE

03 March 2020

Zero project 2020

Four years after receiving an Innovative Practice Award for our equality toolkit for schools, CSIE was honoured to be invited back to the next Zero Project Conference on the theme of Education. CSIE’s director Dr Artemi Sakellariadis was invited to contribute to an international panel on inclusive education. Called the “Couch Session”, because panellists sit on easy chairs and have a discussion, rather than being on stage making formal presentations, this was an opportunity to discuss what we mean by inclusive education, what barriers there are to achieving it and how these barriers may be overcome.

Michael Fembek, Director and Chief Executive of the Zero Project, moderated the discussion and fellow panellists were Albert Brandstätter, General Secretary of Lebenshilfe, Austria, and Nafissa Baboo, Director of Inclusive Education, Light for the World, South Africa. We are delighted that this session attracted very positive feedback from the 800-or-so delegates and that CSIE’s contribution generated a strong interest in our work and invitations to work with colleagues in a number of countries including Spain, Jordan and Brazil.

The Zero Project is an international organisation working towards a world with zero barriers, with a particular focus on disabled people’s rights. The Zero Project Conference takes place every year at the United Nations offices in Vienna, with a 4-year cycle on the themes of: Independent Living, Education, Employment and Accessibility.

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Rise in exclusions for racism

14 Jan 2020

CSIE was honoured to be invited on to Voice of Islam, a national radio station, to discuss a recent rise in exclusions for racism in primary schools. CSIE’s director, Dr Artemi Sakellariadis, was interviewed on Voice of Islam’s Breakfast Show yesterday, Monday 13th January, along with Paul Kearns, Deputy Chief Executive of Show Racism the Red Card. The programme was responding to a recent BBC analysis revealing that, whilst the number of exclusions because of racism across all schools in England had decreased in the decade 2006/7-2017/8, the number of primary-school exclusions for racism had dramatically risen.

As well as sharing CSIE’s history and aims, Dr Sakellariadis answered questions on possible reasons behind this increase and on whether exclusions represent effective solutions to expressions of racism in schools. Yesterday’s breakfast show is now available online, CSIE’s director is interviewed from 1:26 onwards. We would like to thank the Voice of Islam for the invitation to speak on this programme, giving us a chance to share our work and our perspective with the radio station’s national audience.

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Page last updated: Tuesday 01 June 2021

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