Centre for Studies on Inclusive Education

supporting inclusion, challenging exclusion

news & events

18 November 2021

Today, 18 November, we celebrate the launch of UK Disability History Month (UKDHM). This is an annual campaign which draws attention to disabled people’s lives, the oppression they have faced and their struggles for equality and human rights. By inviting everyone to explore their own assumptions, we are working to raise awareness and challenge stereotypes and discrimination.

This year UK Disability History Month has two themes: Disability and Hidden Impairments; and Disability Relationships and Sex. They both have to do with invisibility and widespread stereotypes which act as barriers to disabled people’s inclusion. People with Hidden Impairments are often not recognised as disabled people; while media and popular culture often portray disabled people as unable to experience emotions and sexuality or to have meaningful and satisfying relationships. CSIE will be marking both these themes throughout the Month, so do follow us on Twitter and Facebook and look out for our regular posts on each theme.

We all face barriers to leading fulfilling and satisfying lives, and there should be no hierarchy making some barriers more acceptable than others. For some people the greatest barrier is the lack of reasonable adjustments in response to their impairments. The Equality Act 2010 specifies nine “protected characteristics”, including disability, and states that it is unlawful to treat anyone less favourably because of a protected characteristic, adding that all public service providers must make “reasonable adjustments” in response to people’s impairments. The Act clarifies that a person is considered disabled if they have a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to carry out ordinary day-to-day activities.

There are more than 13 million disabled people living in the UK today and most of them have hidden impairments. Hidden impairments covered by the above definition of disability include a range of mental health conditions such as depression, bipolar disorder or psychotic disorders; physical health conditions such as hearing or sight impairments, chronic fatigue syndrome / Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), chronic pain and chronic illnesses such as fibromyalgia, epilepsy, diabetes or kidney failure; and other conditions such as autistic spectrum, dyslexia or dyspraxia.

It is not possible to know what people are experiencing just by observing their appearance and behaviour. Withholding judgement and challenging disablist assumptions are key to enabling more inclusive environments in our schools, workplaces and broader communities. It is important to have open and honest conversations about any hidden impairments people have and about the reasonable adjustments needed in response to them.

We all need to understand disability as an ordinary part of life and work towards a society which acknowledges diversity and habitually makes reasonable adjustments. Acknowledgement and education can go a long way in addressing assumptions about disabled people. For example, many people assume that if a person cannot speak clearly, then they also cannot understand (often assumed about people with cerebral palsy), or that if someone has learning difficulties they do not experience feelings and sexual desires, or do not need strong and meaningful relationships. For impairments which are not visible this is all the more important.

It is easy for anyone to assume that the way they experience the world is the same as everyone else’s. Such assumptions can be strengthened by social conditioning, for example from advertising, literature, schools, films and other tools of enculturation. Widespread stereotypes make it harder to appreciate diversity as a natural expression of our shared humanity and can lead people to believe that “difference” is problematic. Instead, we prefer to say, over and over again, that we are all of equal value by virtue of being human.

It takes time and effort to recognise and reduce the barriers that disabled people face. But if we are committed to disability equality in education, we can all benefit from exploring our own assumptions, in the first place. In schools, colleges and other educational settings we can strive to have open and honest conversations, and to create more respectful and inclusive environments. With this year’s joint themes in mind, we will want to make sure that the Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) curriculum is meaningful and relevant for disabled learners, and that we consider and provide reasonable adjustments for people’s impairments, including hidden impairments.

Our website offers further information and resources for advancing disability equality in education.

back to top


One Kind Word

15 November 2021

Anti-Bullying Week aims to raise awareness of bullying and highlight ways of preventing or responding to it. It is an annual UK event held in the third week of November and this year it runs from 15 to 19 of November. The Anti-Bullying Alliance in England and Wales are the official organisers of the annual event and their efforts include a range of engaging tools and activities to support schools in eliminating hurtful behaviour. The campaign has been building momentum not just among teachers, parents and students, whom it is meant to support, but from the broader community that understands how harmful bullying can be for everyone involved. We stand with these groups and many others who wish to see an end to any activity that makes young people feel unwelcomed in or out of the classroom.

Every child deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. This contributes to a sense of self-worth which is crucial for all individuals in society to flourish. Although anyone can be the target of bullying, those who appear to be different – for example disabled children and young people, those from different ethnic backgrounds or those with diverse sexual orientation – are sometimes treated in ways which challenge their sense of self-worth.

Our role as educators is to protect our pupils from the damaging effects of bullying and educate everyone away from prejudice. After all, some behaviours which are called “bullying” in schools would be categorised as “hate crime” if they happened in other spaces.

We offer resources and training to help schools address prejudice, reduce bullying and promote equality holistically. Many of our resources are also available digitally from our online shop which includes free downloadable resources.

Bullying is categorised as harmful action that can take many forms and can have long-lasting effects. Activities ranging from verbal threats like teasing, taunting or unwanted sexual comments to excluding someone by embarrassing them or spreading rumors, or through overt physical abuse such as spitting, hitting or making rude gestures are all types of bullying. These behaviours can happen in a public setting, but have been taking place more often online as we become electronically connected. Any and all aggressive and repetitive behaviour that makes someone feel undervalued or outcast is linked with creating mental health issues that are likely to be carried on into adulthood.

Research has suggested that not only do many young people struggle with being bullied, but that there is a link between bullying and declining mental health among children, especially for those aged between 11-16 years old. In July 2021 the Early Intervention Foundation published a report on ‘Adolescent mental health: A systematic review on the effectiveness of school-based interventions’, which presented key findings related to bullying. On a hopeful note, the report found that interventions which focused on improving emotional, behavioural and social skills have proved effective in preventing instances of bullying. It is our belief that through consistent self-inquiry, training and maintaining dialogue through properly equipped education, campaigns such as Anti-Bullying Week will continue to raise awareness about the harmful effects of bullying, and give young people empowering tools to learn and explore in a safe environment.

The theme for this year’s Anti-Bullying Week is “One Kind Word.” The words we use can be powerful and can have a significant impact on those who hear them. Taking more care in what we say, as well as how we say it, can make a big difference to those we interact with. After another year of disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, each of us has had to deal with its impact on our lives and on our mental health. Whether our interactions are online or in person, One Kind Word can help us all reconnect and bring joy, care and acceptance into our learning environments.

back to top


Promising temporary team

01 November 2021

We are delighted to welcome three students from the University of Bristol as part of the Intrapreneurial Knowledge Exchange Enterprise Pathway (IKEEP) project placement this November. This project gives students an opportunity to gain first-hand experience of behind-the-scenes work in a charity. As such they will be working with CSIE staff in a variety of tasks including a thorough review of our website, social media and helping to preserve CSIE’s rich history and legacy. Students hope to contribute their enthusiasm, fresh perspective and varied skills to support CSIE at a time of transformation and to implement our new business plan.

Lumina Kemp completed her undergraduate in Anthropology in the USA and is currently working on a Masters in History. She has a keen interest in understanding the origins of power structures and social inequalities and hopes that through her training she can contribute to a society that values social justice and helps all people reach their potential. Lumina is enthusiastic about using her research and writing skills to help make CSIE more effective in eliminating discrimination and promoting quality inclusive education to all students.

Henry Shi completed his undergraduate degree in Accounting in China and is currently doing a Masters in Accounting and Finance. He received most of his education in China and saw many areas that required improvement. Therefore, it is an excellent opportunity for him to have this knowledge to find accessible suggestions and measures. Henry tries to complete this project not only as a participant but also as a learner. Henry is passionate about bringing this awareness and insight to people around him through social media and talk.

Lacey Trebilcook studies Law and is passionate about combating inequalities in the education system. She serves as the Disabled Students Liaison Officer for the University of Bristol Women’s Network and is a member of Bristol Disability Equality Forum. Lacey uses her social media platforms to promote social justice and educate people on ableism in educational institutions. Her commitment and experience in tackling discrimination is a valued contribution to this team project.

back to top


National Hate Crime Awareness Week

08 October 2021

Hate Crime Awareness Week is here again, running from 9 to 16 October, and we believe it is essential to mark it in schools and other education settings. Hate Crime Awareness Week is a week of activities aimed at increasing public awareness of hate crime and educating people about preventing it.

Hate crime is defined as any criminal offence which is perceived, by the victim or a witness, to be motivated by prejudice against a personal characteristic such as disability, transgender identity, ethnic background, sexual orientation, religion, or a combination of these. This might be verbal abuse, assault or damage to property.

In schools and other educational settings hate crime is not unusual, it just tends to be called bullying. Perhaps the most important lesson we can help our pupils learn is to understand that we are all of equal value, by virtue of being human, and must always treat one another with respect.

As educators, we have an important role to play in educating against prejudice and hate. We need to help our young people understand and accept diversity as a natural expression of our shared humanity. It is also essential to help them understand that we all have multiple identities, and those who have more than one Protected Characteristic (as defined in the Equality Act 2010) are at exponentially greater risk of harassment or discrimination.

Hate Crime in England and Wales has risen steadily in recent years and, according to information from the Home Office, in 2019-20 there was an overall increase of 8% of hate crimes reported. The rise is even sharper (9%) for disability hate crimes, and we strongly echo the recommendation from the Equality and Human Rights Commission that schools should do more to help pupils better understand disability and the prejudices disabled people face. CSIE has been helping schools do this with our disability awareness workshops for pupils, which typically 95-100% of participants say that they found helpful.

Hate Crime Awareness Week, like other designated days and months, provides a wonderful opportunity to respond to prejudice, explore it, educate others about it and review what more a school can do, for example ensuring that all Protected Characteristics are represented in the curriculum and throughout the setting. This should give everyone additional opportunities to celebrate diversity, appreciate it as a rich learning resource and enable the whole school community to have the vocabulary and the confidence to respond constructively to any indication of prejudice.

In addition to the disability awareness workshops mentioned above, our award-winning equality toolkit can help primary and secondary schools ensure everyone is safe, included and learning. Equality: Making It Happen, only £35 if bought directly from CSIE, is a succinct and user-friendly toolkit to help schools address prejudice, reduce bullying and promote equality holistically.

back to top


Every teacher an SEND teacher

24 August 2021

The Department for Education appointed an expert group to review courses that lead to qualified teacher status, with the aim of providing high-quality training to teachers, and has sought responses to its recommendations.

In its response, CSIE welcomed the single acknowledgement that teachers must be adequately prepared to teach pupils with labels of special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). At the same time, CSIE’s response stressed that the omission of any reference to this from the rest of the document makes it unlikely that teachers will be sufficiently prepared to respond to the full diversity of learners. If every teacher is a teacher of SEND, as the government has suggested and as they should be, then ITT must ensure that they can be.

In the current landscape, the education of children with labels of SEND is largely seen as the domain of specialists. This can give rise to the assumption that if one does not have such a specialism they are ill-equipped to respond to these children's needs. In the process of developing a system where "every teacher is a teacher of SEND", it is essential to prepare all teachers to work in inclusive classrooms, and equally important to provide sufficient professional development for those who support newly qualified teachers.

CSIE drew attention to the fact that the government’s annual survey of newly qualified teachers (NQTs) regularly finds that only about half of NQTs report that their ITT equipped them well to teach pupils with labels of SEND.

Current data suggests that fewer and fewer children are benefitting from the core high quality provision in our education system, as more and more children are segregated in separate special schools and alternative provision. CSIE’s response suggested that, in the 21st century, this needs to change. Education needs to better reflect the level of disability equality achieved in other parts of life.

The principal of Universal Design was put forward as an alternative basis for initial teacher education, with issues of SEND woven into its fabric instead of being bolted-on as an afterthought. This would contribute to the much-needed culture change in which disabled children’s right to an inclusive education is fully understood and respected in all schools. This, after all, is what the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child and the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities have repeatedly recommended to the UK as a matter of urgency.

CSIE’s response also suggests that the consultation may have been ill-timed, given that the summer holidays are not the best time to engage all key stakeholders in a meaningful way.

Finally, the response queries the need for such a radical transformation of ITT at all, given the apparent absence of evidence upon which this review was commissioned, or upon which its recommendations are based.

back to top


Summer Volunteers

13 August 2021

We are thrilled to welcome three new volunteers from the University of Bristol to the CSIE team this week – Ayoola, Katie and Honor. They will work on a variety of tasks to support the day-to-day running of the charity and contribute to ongoing projects, gaining an invaluable insight into the work carried out here this summer.

Ayoola

Ayoola is currently doing her Masters in Education (Leadership and Policy). She is fascinated by CSIE’s commitment to promoting equality and eliminating discrimination in education through the workshops it offers to teachers, assisting schools in promoting equality and reducing prejudice. This aligns well with her interest as she is passionate about promoting quality education to students, especially the disadvantaged, through research.

Katie

Katie is currently studying Politics and Philosophy. She is committed to advancing equality and inclusion in education, taking on many jobs in the field such as volunteering with Bristol’s Student Action for Refugees society, where she helps children from refugee backgrounds with their homework. She is also a Widening Participation Ambassador for the University of Bristol. Katie is excited to work with CSIE to further her contributions to advancing inclusive education.

Honor

Honor is an undergraduate student studying Chemistry, with plans to study a masters degree in Sociology. She is delighted to have the opportunity to learn about the principles underpinning inclusivity in education to support a wider interest in promoting equality in society and making sure people of all backgrounds and identities can feel safe and included. She has enjoyed working with charities in the past and looks forward to continuing this by making a positive contribution to the work of CSIE.

We look forward to seeing Ayoola, Katie and Honor progress in the coming weeks.

back to top


National Disability Strategy

30 July 2021

Earlier this week the Government published a National Disability Strategy, intending to create a ‘concrete plan’ to improve the everyday lives of disabled people.

Part 3 includes the summary of actions each government department has pledged to take. The Department for Education (DfE) has pledged a review of actions to improve outcomes for pupils with labels of special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), a number of financial investments, and improvements to supported internships and apprenticeships.

While welcoming these pledges, CSIE remains concerned that the proposed actions are inconsistent with the development of a more inclusive education system, which the government has committed to. When ratifying the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the Government had committed to developing “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”. The Code of Practice also clearly states, in paragraph 1.26, the government’s commitment to inclusive education and that there is an expectation (“the general presumption in law”) of mainstream education.

Earlier this month, the DfE announced that many new special schools will be built by September 2022, taking thousands more children away from the mainstream education system where they have a right to be. Such actions are bound to increase segregation in education and build on misconceptions that disabled and non-disabled children cannot be educated together, to the benefit of all.

The government insists that parents of children with labels of SEND have a choice of the type of school their child will go to. If this is to be a real choice, however, one would expect the DfE to announce concrete plans to strengthen the capacity of ordinary schools to include disabled children. We have heard of no such plans yet.

At the end of June Ofsted published “SEND: old issues, new issues, next steps”, a seminal report concluding that there are long-standing issues in the SEND system, which have been highlighted and intensified by the Covid-19 pandemic. The new Strategy does not seem to contain any proposals to deal with the root causes of such inequality, instead responding to its symptoms by preserving and strengthening institutional prejudice.

Last but not least, CSIE is also aware of reports that the consultation process for the strategy development was tokenistic. These suggest that it lacks the due diligence needed for developing a strategy relevant to such a diverse group. It seems that the fundamental principle of ‘nothing about us without us’ may not have been meaningfully observed on this occasion, leaving the government to create a National Disability Strategy which disabled people find “not fit for purpose”.

CSIE would have preferred to see a National Inclusion Strategy, which considers the varied and important perspectives of disabled people and sets out a clear path to greater inclusion in society, beginning with educational settings.

back to top


Free resources available online

30 June 2021

Knowledge Box

We are delighted to announce that the four webinars which frame CSIE’s Knowledge Box on Disabled Children’s Rights in Education are now also freely available on YouTube. We are working on adding subtitles, to make these materials even more accessible.

Part I clarifies what national and international laws state about the education of disabled children and young people. Part II presents a clear rationale for inclusive education, from a children’s rights perspective. Part III describes specific approaches and strategies which support inclusion for all, and Part IV focuses on roles and responsibilities of Learning and Support Assistants in ordinary schools.

The complete Knowledge Box, with all its supplementary resources, continues to be available free of charge, upon free registration on the D-LoT platform (Disability Leaders of Tomorrow).

These materials have been created as part of the IMAS II project (IMproving ASsistance in inclusive educational settings II) in which CSIE was a partner. The project saw the creation of five online Knowledge Boxes for use by Learning and Support Assistants and anyone else interested in better supporting the learning and development of disabled children in ordinary schools. All Knowledge Boxes are available in five languages (Bulgarian, English, German, Portuguese and Slovakian) and cover the following topics:

Disabled Children’s Rights in Education
Interaction & Communication
Cognition & Learning
Physical & Sensory Impairment
Emotions & Behaviour

Educators from all project countries took part in a far-reaching evaluation of the Knowledge Boxes. The results confirm that Assistants who have engaged with these materials not only enhanced their knowledge and practical skills but, as a result, this also increased their confidence as they reported feeling better prepared and better equipped to do their job.

The IMAS II project was 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 concluded on 31 March 2021, following an extension necessitated by the Covid-19 pandemic. The project set out 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 was 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.”

back to top


Happy Birthday CSIE!

28 June 2021

Happy Birthday CSIE! - Photo by rovenimages.com from Pexels

Photo by rovenimages.com from Pexels

On this day CSIE celebrates 39 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 address equality in education holistically, and has remained at the forefront of developments in inclusive education. Within the past year alone, CSIE has:

Above all, this time last year CSIE was the focus of a memorable online PATH event (Planning Alternative Tomorrows with Hope), gifted to us by Inclusive Solutions, which brought together CSIE supporters from all over the world including Austria, Brazil, Canada, India, Netherlands, Portugal, UK and more. Attendees were clear that CSIE’s work is valued and still needed, and spent three hours deliberating on a way forward. And so it is that our biggest cause for celebration comes as a direct result of this event and the funding pledged during it: we are still here!

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!

back to top


CQC/Ofsted report reproaches SEND provision

21 June 2021

A seminal report entitled “SEND: old issues, new issues, next steps” was published last week by Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission.

The report looks at the experiences of disabled children and young people in ten local areas, in the context of the reforms introduced by the Children and Families Act 2014 and of the pandemic.

Alarmingly, the report concludes that there are long-standing issues in the SEND system, which have been highlighted and intensified by the pandemic.

The report mentions a widespread lack of ambition for children and young people with labels of SEND. This is all the more worrying in the context of rising numbers of children being given such labels, often inappropriately as the report suggests. For example underachievement, sometimes due to a poorly designed or taught curriculum, is sometimes wrongly labelled as ‘SEND’. Similarly, speech, language and communication needs may be misunderstood as moderate learning difficulties.

During the first lockdown many children with labels of SEND did not attend school or college. Some received remote education and coped with it well, while others did not. In autumn 2020 some but not all returned to school or college. Of those who did, some received a narrower curriculum than usual. Others were simply not receiving education. Important healthcare also ceased, for example some children and young people did not receive physiotherapy, leaving them immobile and/or in pain.

Such lack of health and care provision, alongside inconsistent educational provision and long waiting times for assessments, all had an impact on children and young people’s physical and mental health.

By spring 2021 concerns had intensified and many children and young people were feeling isolated and lonely.

Looking back, it is clear that all local areas had to adapt their way of working, in order to provide services for children and young people with labels of SEND. The report clearly states that the success with which they adapted seemed to be closely related to the quality of their work before the pandemic.

This is not new. CSIE’s series of reports on local authorities school placement trends has repeatedly shown the existence of a ‘postcode lottery’, with significant differences in how local authorities implement national law and policy.

The report concludes that further reform to the SEND system has become even more urgent than it was before the pandemic.

CSIE is deeply concerned about these findings. At the same time we hope that, by making these problems explicit, this report may pave the way to a new normal, where disabled children and young people are better respected and better supported in education, and are able to experience real equality of opportunity.

back to top


Education Recovery Commissioner resigns in protest

04 June 2021

Education recovery commissioner Sir Kevan Collins has resigned following the government’s proposal of an additional £1.4bn for the UK’s education catch-up, on top of the £1.7bn already pledged, instead of the £15bn he had recommended.

Sir Kevan is a widely respected education adviser who was knighted in 2015 for services to education. He had previously been Chief Executive of the Education Endowment Foundation, which examines evidence for what works in education. He was appointed to this role in February, to develop a long-term plan to help pupils make up for learning lost during the Covid-19 pandemic.

He advised the government that a £15bn budget was necessary for the scale and size of this project. Thus, with the proposal being almost a tenth of this, Sir Kevan believes that the government’s plan is “far from what is needed.”

In his resignation statement, Sir Kevan described the government’s budget as a “half-hearted approach” to the country’s education catch-up, with thousands of pupils now at risk of further educational failure. This comes after nearly two years of upheaval within education already due to COVID-19.

In particular, he said not enough is being done to help vulnerable children, children in early years or 16 – 19-year-olds. This prompts us to ask ‘who’ is the government supporting to catch up?

It is important to recognise that catching-up will not be the same nor involve the same issues for all pupils. Some pupils, in particular disabled children, will require additional support that extends beyond academic assistance for the school time missed over the past 2 years.

A No 10 spokesperson has said that the government is working to ensure “no child is left behind in their learning.” However, Sir Kevan believes this is not achievable on the current financial proposal, which he states as equating to, on average, £22 per primary school child.

Many have extended understanding and support for Sir Kevan’s decision to resign, with many disappointed with the government’s proposal.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has responded to the resignation, reassuring the public that additional funding is “coming down the track.” As it stands, the government has committed just over £3bn for the education catch-up.

CSIE welcomes the government’s promise of additional funding, albeit in the wake of such upheaval, and looks forward to more evidence that the education catch-up will become a top government priority

back to top


Summer internship

01 June 2021

This month we welcome a fresh face to the CSIE team as our summer intern Rishona Ruegg-Morrison begins her month with us!

The internship involves a variety of tasks that work to offer our intern a true and exciting glimpse into working for the charity sector. She has already hit the ground running and is reading and working on important CSIE work.

Rishona is an undergraduate studying Law at the University of Bristol and is participating in the university’s COVID-19 Small and Medium Enterprises programme. This scheme enables undergraduates to work with organisations such as CSIE by paying the student’s salary for the month they are with us.

Rishona speaks fondly of her own school experiences, which she states informed her views on inclusive education. She recalled her and her peers having to travel to a neighbouring park for her P.E. lessons as the school’s field was not accessible to all. Her school was of the view that until the school’s field was accessible to all, to disabled and non-disabled children alike, no pupil could use the facilities. It was not until Year 9, when a ramp was installed to improve access to the school’s field, when she and her peers began to have her P.E. lessons on school grounds.

This shaped her view and understanding of what ‘inclusion’ is and means. It is ensuring that everyone has equal opportunities, not bound by the individual characteristics or circumstances they find themselves to have or be in.

We are very excited to begin working with Rishona, who is passionate to make education more inclusive, very much like her school, and extend much gratitude to the University of Bristol for making this internship possible.

back to top


IMAS II project update

19 April 2021

Project partners meet online for the final project meeting

CSIE has been a partner in the IMAS II project (IMproving ASsistance in inclusive educational settings II) and the original IMAS project before it.

The IMAS II project was 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 concluded on 31 March 2021, following an extension necessitated by the Covid-19 pandemic. The project set out 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 was one of nine project partners from six European countries. For more information please visit the project website.

Project partners have developed five online Knowledge Boxes for use by Learning and Support Assistants and anyone else interested in better supporting the learning and development of disabled children in ordinary schools. All Knowledge Boxes are available in five languages (Bulgarian, English, German, Portuguese and Slovakian) and cover the following topics:

Disabled Children’s Rights in Education
Interaction & Communication
Cognition & Learning
Physical & Sensory Impairment
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).

Educators from all project countries have taken part in a far-reaching evaluation of these Knowledge Boxes. The results confirm that Assistants who have engaged with the Knowledge Boxes not only enhanced their knowledge and practical skills but, as a result, this also increased their confidence as they reported feeling better prepared and better equipped to do their job.

The final project activities, originally planned to take place in London, successfully took place online. Teaching and Learning Support Assistants from all partner countries gathered online for a three-day training activity prepared by CSIE, in which all online Knowledge Boxes were presented and the Knowledge Box which CSIE developed, on Disabled Children’s Rights in Education, was explored in more detail. The event attracted very positive feedback from all participants, with comments such as:

“Great professionalism, great approach!”

“What I learned was beyond my expectations very well prepared.”

“It´s been amazingly well done. I’ve been part of more projects but this is top class.”

“Just wanted to say thank you for all of the amazing people who created this fantastic information.”

Project partners met on 25 March for the final project meeting, which also took place online. All project activities were reviewed and news was shared of the positive evaluation of the Knowledge Boxes and the participatory research with children and young people in schools. This meeting, and the whole project, ended on a positive note and the hope that a follow-up project could take these successful outcomes even further.

More information is available in the project’s fourth and final Newsletter.

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.”

back to top


Is the tide turning?

14 April 2021

Last Thursday, 8 April, the National Education Union (NEU), which represents over 450,000 members in the UK, voted to create a high-profile national campaign to address disability equality in schools for both staff and pupils.

The motion was carried almost unanimously with 837 votes for, no votes against and only one abstention. It responds to widespread concern that disabled children and staff were not treated fairly during the Covid-19 pandemic, which seems to have exposed pre-existing cracks in the system.

Through the motion, the conference instructed the Executive to carry out a new campaign for among other things "a properly funded inclusive education system", "large scale staff training on inclusive pedagogy" and "a curtailing of normative testing". In addition, the Executive was instructed to produce a Disability Equality Framework which challenges negative attitudes and stereotypes. The full text of the motion appears below.

CSIE welcomes the passing of this motion and looks forward to supporting its implementation. Advancing disability equality in education is long overdue, and the moment seems ripe for addressing the vicious circle many areas find themselves in.

The past decade has seen the establishment of many new special schools, as local authorities sought to reduce out-of-authority placements. This additional supply of places seems to have created greater demand, and the number of Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) issued has been steadily rising.

As demand is once again outstripping supply in many areas, it remains to be seen if we will see even more special schools being opened, deepening this vicious circle and leaving ordinary schools to cater for fewer and fewer children as time goes on.

It seems clear to us that, by increasing the capacity of ordinary schools to respond to the needs of all learners, the need for EHCPs will reduce, particularly where these are sought as a ‘passport’ to separate special schools.

If more local authorities arrive at a similar realisation, we may begin to see a long overdue turning of the tide. This certainly affords us an excellent opportunity to rekindle conversations about the benefits of inclusion for all, and to remind ourselves of the national and international legal call for developing more inclusive schools.

Here is the official text of the motion:

back to top


Call to address inequity in education

09 March 2021

CSIE is joint signatory in a letter to the Secretary of State for Education, which expresses intense concern at the withdrawal from schools and colleges of funding which previously supported work on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

The letter lists a range of recent cuts and points out that ongoing inequity in schools presents a national challenge which needs to be addressed with national funding. It refers to the Equality Act 2010 and the Public Sector Equality Duty, highlighting the need to address gender, race, class and disability inequalities, among other issues related to all protected characteristics covered by the Equality Act.

The letter urges the Department for Education to reinstate funding and take every action necessary in order to: ensure greater diversity among those in leadership positions; protect students and staff from inequity in schools and colleges; support the recruitment and retention of staff who have protected characteristics; and address professional gaps in curricula, knowledge and skills.

The letter arose out of the collaborative efforts of the Diversity Roundtable, a collective of professionals working in the field of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

back to top


FREE webinar

05 March 2021

FREE Webinar

Knowledge Box

CSIE is delighted to announce this FREE online webinar, which will take place on Tuesday 30 March, 3-5 pm.

The webinar will focus on the contribution which Learning Support Assistants, or Teaching Assistants, make to the learning & development of disabled children in schools. It will present the outcomes of an international project which created FREE online resources available for self-study.

The webinar will explore a rationale for inclusive education, in the context of national and international laws which call for inclusion, and offer useful information and practical advice relevant to the following areas: Interaction & Communication; Cognition & Learning; Physical & Sensory Impairment; and Emotions & Behaviour.

It will also present information from the evaluation of these resources, which have been rated very highly by assistants from five different countries, by teachers who work with these assistants, and by parents of children who are supported by these assistants.

This event is for Learning Support Assistants, or Teaching Assistants, who are interested in more effective ways of supporting disabled children and young people in schools. It will also be of interest to parents of disabled children, and to teachers, senior leaders, SENCos and other educators involved in planning for disabled children’s learning and development in schools.

This webinar is offered as part of the collaborative project IMAS II (IMproving ASsistance in inclusive educational settings II), co-funded by the Erasmus+ programme of the European Union (2018-1-AT01-KA202-039302). CSIE has been among the nine partners from five countries in this project, and in the original IMAS project before it.

The IMAS II project was launched in October 2018 at the University of Graz, Austria, home of the lead partner, and concludes at the end of March 2021. The project has sought 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.

FREE Webinar



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.”

back to top


Intelligent Lives

02 March 2021

Intelligent Lives

Intelligent Lives

We are delighted to announce a FREE online screening of the film Intelligent Lives, by award-winning filmmaker Dan Habib. The film tells the stories of three young adults with learning difficulties who challenge perceptions of intelligence as they navigate high school, college and the workplace.

Academy Award-winning actor and narrator Chris Cooper contextualizes the lives of these central characters through the emotional personal story of his son Jesse, as the film unpacks the history and impact of intelligence testing.

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. For more information please see www.intelligentlives.org.

This 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?

Event outline:

This event will be of interest to teachers, learning support assistants, students, researchers, academics, families and other members of the public.

Do come along and join the conversation! Intelligent Lives

back to top


Note: some of the documents on this page are in PDF format. In order to view a PDF you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader

Page last updated: Wednesday 24 November 2021

Support our work

If you like what we do, you can help us do more.

news