Centre for Studies on Inclusive Education

supporting inclusion, challenging exclusion

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UK failing disabled children

04 September 2017

The UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has produced a damning report, following its recent Review of the UK government’s compliance with the Convention. The Committee met in Geneva on 23 and 24 August to examine the UK government’s progress on fulfilling its commitments.

Far from being a world leader in disability equality, the UK government’s record on upholding disabled people’s rights has been condemned by the Committee; one member went as far as calling this a “human catastrophe”. In its Concluding Observations, the Committee has made more than 60 recommendations, the highest ever number of recommendations to the UK. Deaf and Disabled People’s Organisations (DDPOs) were hailed as the genuine “world leaders” for their efforts in bringing to light the injustices and human rights violations inflicted on disabled people in the UK.

Education for disabled children has been highlighted as an area of major concern. The Committee was concerned at the increased number of disabled children being sent to separate “special” schools, and the UK’s reluctance to develop more inclusive education for disabled children; it called for a strategy to end the segregation and institutionalisation of children and young people from their families and communities. It also expressed concern at the UK government’s failure to address high levels of bullying, hate speech and hate crime against disabled children and young people.

Specifically with regard to Article 24 (Education), the Committee expressed concerns at:

  1. The persistence of a dual education system that segregates disabled children to special schools, including based on parental choice;
  2. The number of disabled children in segregated education environments is increasing;
  3. The education system is not geared to respond to the requirements for high-quality inclusive education, in particular the practices of school authorities turning down enrolment of disabled students who are deemed ‘as disruptive to other classmates’; and
  4. Education and training of teachers in inclusion competences is not reflecting the requirements of inclusive education.

The Committee’s recommendations for education include:

  1. Develop a comprehensive and coordinated legislative and policy framework for inclusive education, and a timeframe to ensure that mainstream schools foster real inclusion of children with disabilities in the school environment and teachers and all other professionals and persons in contact with children understand the concept of inclusion and are able to enhance inclusive education;
  2. Adopt regulation, monitor development and offer remedies in combating disability-related discrimination and/or harassment, including deciding upon schemes for compensation;
  3. Adopt and implement a coherent strategy, financed with concrete timelines and measurable goals, on increasing and improving inclusive education. The strategy must:
    1. Ensure the implementation of laws, decrees and regulations improving the extent and quality of inclusive education in classrooms, support provisions and teacher training, including pedagogical capabilities, across all levels providing for high-quality inclusive environments, including within breaks between lessons and through socialisation outside “education time”;
    2. Setup initiatives raising awareness about and support to inclusive education among parents of children with disabilities; and
    3. Provide sufficient, relevant data on the number of students both in inclusive and segregated education disaggregated by impairment, age, sex and ethnic background, and further provide data on the outcome of the education reflecting the capabilities of the students

The Convention, which is the first human rights treaty of the 21st century, promotes respect for the inherent dignity of all disabled people and safeguards all disabled people’s human rights and fundamental freedoms. The educational rights of disabled children and young people are directly addressed in Article 24, which stipulates an inclusive education system at primary, secondary and tertiary level. In particular, Article 24 specifies that States Parties shall ensure “an inclusive education system at all levels”, that “persons with disabilities receive the support required, within the general education system, to facilitate their effective education”, and that essential staff training “shall incorporate disability awareness and the use of appropriate augmentative and alternative modes, means and formats of communication, educational techniques and materials to support persons with disabilities.”

Further information on the Convention is available on the UN website, as are the UN Committee’s Concluding Observations.

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Happy Birthday CSIE!

28 June 2017

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. Some of our most recent achievements are listed below.

Our 2016 resource continues to attract the interest of teachers and school leaders. "Equality: Making It Happen" is a succinct and user-friendly set of reference cards to help schools reduce bullying, address prejudice and promote equality holistically. It has been sponsored by teachers’ union NASUWT, has won an Innovative Practice Award 2016 from the Zero Project, for a world with zero barriers, is being translated into Spanish and Portuguese with more translations in the pipeline and has been complimented in an independent review in Educational Psychology in Practice, the professional journal of the Association for Educational Psychologists.

In September 2016 CSIE created a short film with the generous help of George Magner, a freelance film maker who his services free of charge. The 3-minute film presents “Equality: Making It Happen” and the impact the new guide has had on schools, as well as describing CSIE’s intention to take this project one step further and create on online equality hub to be freely available to all schools.

CSIE has recently embarked, in partnership with a researcher from the University of Bristol, on a collaborative research project on Widening Participation for disabled students. This research has been commissioned by the University of Bristol and focuses on disabled students’ perspectives on the support that the University provides, identifying what works well and what are some of the barriers in disabled students’ learning and participation in all aspects of University life.

During the course of the year CSIE delivered equality workshops for education practitioners throughout the country, generously supported by Barclays Bank and The Ben Cohen StandUp Foundation, to whom CSIE remains grateful. Workshops were delivered in Bristol, Cardiff, King’s Lynn, Norwich, Leicester, Reading, Chorley and York. The overwhelming majority of participants said that they found the content excellent, useful, very interesting or thought-provoking, and the presentation well-paced, clear, concise, friendly and informal, tailored to the needs of the group, and with a good balance of discussion and listening.

CSIE’s disability awareness workshops for pupils are becoming increasingly popular with primary and secondary schools; this year workshops have taken place in Leicester, Kent, Glasgow, Surrey, Barnet, Hounslow, Cheshire, Aberdeenshire and Solihull. These workshops have been developed in response to the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s recommendation that schools should do more to help pupils understand disabled people, the social model of disability and the prejudice disabled people face (“Out in the open”, EHRC, 2012). This year’s workshops have reached around 1,500 pupils, 95% of whom have said on anonymous feedback slips that they have found the workshop helpful. Some of the reasons pupils gave for finding the workshops helpful were:

“If people look different doesn’t mean their personality is different.”

“It has taught me that we shouldn’t ignore people who are different to us.”

“I know not to judge a book by its cover and it’s the person inside that matters.”

“It showed me to be a lot more open to disabled people.”

“It has made me realise that disabled people are just as friendly as we.”

“It changed my outlook on how I look at disability.”

Alongside all these exciting achievements, recognition from others continues to grow. This year CSIE has been invited to support a school to undertake a whole school equality audit and to contribute to three more European projects, in addition to ELICIT+ and IMAS projects where CSIE is currently a partner in. Invitations to speak at conferences and contribute to edited books and journals continue to arrive

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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CSIE is invited to contribute to The Beit Project

15 June 2017

The Beit Project

CSIE is honoured to have been invited to contribute to the Beit Project, a European project promoting social cohesion. The project was launched in Paris in 2011 and is co-funded by the “Europe for Citizens” Programme of the European Union.

The Beit Project connects historical heritage with the fight against racism, social exclusion and discrimination. By using the urban space, the heritage and the history of the place as the source of questioning, participants investigate concepts of ‘the other’ in society. The project has already been realized one or more times, in one or several districts, in Paris, Rome, Barcelona, Berlin, Brussels, Lódz, London, Marseille and Sofia.

After a first Pilot in Tower Hamlets in 2015, the Beit Project returns to London this month, this time in King’s Cross, bringing together pupils from a range of schools, from inner and outer London. Pupils taking part in the project build a nomadic school in a public place where they meet and study together, working towards a shared understanding that differences are not obstacles but great assets. The final presentation event is due to take place at Granary Square, King’s Cross, on Thursday 6 July.

The Beit Project aims to transform heritage sites into educational platforms for dialogue and debate, linking History and contemporary issues. It was created by David Stoleru, a French educator and architect specialising in Heritage Preservation and Education, and is led today by a Not-for-Profit based in Barcelona and a dynamic multi-disciplinary team including educators, historians, architects, artists and network experts. For more information please see the Beit Project website and YouTube channel.

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Widening Participation for disabled students

30 May 2017

CSIE is delighted to have been awarded a grant from the University of Bristol to research current experiences of disabled students, in collaboration with Dr Dave Bainton, researcher at the University of Bristol.

The study is already underway and seeks to explore experiences of students at the University of Bristol who identify as being disabled or who experience mental health issues. It is anticipated that outcomes will shape policy and practice across all disciplines and departments of the University.

This research project adopts the definition of disability as this appears in the Equality Act 2010 and, therefore, seeks to engage with students who identify as disabled according to this definition (i.e. students who have a physical or mental impairment, including mental health issues, which has a substantial and long-term negative effect on their ability to do ordinary daily activities).

The study aims to provide the University of Bristol with: a) feedback on current policies and practices which are effective in ensuring that disabled students are included in every aspect of University life; and b) practical recommendations for improving current procedures for welcoming and adequately supporting disabled students. As a result, the University will be further enabled to operate in line with the requirements of the Equality Act 2010 and Article 24 (Education) of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

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Page last updated: Thursday 14 September 2017

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