Foxfield School recognises that there is a growing demand at all levels for movement towards a school system that is more socially and educationally inclusive. The school fully supports the view that every pupil should access an appropriate education that meets their needs within a well structured and resourced continuum of provision. An issue considered is the interpretation and implementation of inclusion in practice. We need to ensure that there is a dual approach focusing on both the rights of children and the effectiveness of their education.
In the “Programme for Action” for meeting special educational needs (DfEE, 1998), a commitment was made to disseminate the good practice that exists in special schools through collaborative working with mainstream and to promote their contribution to an increasingly inclusive education system.
Foxfield School has made a commitment to this statement and has now created links with a number of the local mainstream schools. The DfEE suggested that “For those with more complex needs, the starting point should always be ‘Could this child benefit from education in a mainstream setting?’”. This is a vital consideration when considering placing a child in a mainstream school as part of their education. The main issues when identifying potential pupils to receive part of their education within a mainstream setting are; parent views, benefits to the child’s education and the appropriateness of the provision of the mainstream setting. The notion of pupils with complex educational needs attending a mainstream school for all or part of the week would and does, result in the need for quite substantial changes for both the special and mainstream school.
Where are we now?
The mainstream schools currently working with Foxfield to develop inclusion links are;
- South Wirral High School
- Woodchurch High School
We currently have fifteen of our pupils attending mainstream school on a weekly basis. We are hoping to increase this number in the near future as we have co located into our new building next door to Woodchurch High School. We already have started building links with them and it is hoped that these will be further developed next year. Pupils spend half a day at a mainstream school and take part in various lessons as part of the mainstream curriculum. These lessons include;
English, Maths, History, Geography, Music, Art, Drama, DesignTechnology, Textiles, PSHE, IT, Food Technology, PE.
The pupils generally attend mainstream in pairs, together with a member of support staff from Foxfield who is experienced at supporting our pupils. Many of the pupils also have their lunch at the mainstream school and socialise with mainstream pupils.
All placements are monitored and reviewed on a regular basis by relevant members of staff. All pupils receive a subject report from their mainstream school and photographs are also taken as evidence of the work they produce. Any information is then kept in the pupils Progress File. A report is written and kept on record that outlines what has been covered in each lesson that the pupil has participated in.
Parents are also invited to attend the mainstream school for events such as parents evening and a general tour/induction of the school.
Other projects and links have been set up with the mainstream schools, including the following;
- Joint trips
- Mainstream sixth formers taking performing in assembly at Foxfield
- Mainstream schools are invited to attend Foxfield school productions and vice verca
- Mainstream ‘Sport Ambassadors’ come to support our pupils during sports events and our annual sports day
- Foxfield pupils attended mainstream schools and joined in various events throughout the year activities
- Foxfield pupils invited to after school clubs at mainstream
- Mainstream staff have attended Foxfield as part of their staff development and Foxfield will continue to provide support
Foxfield School is currently working with mainstream schools to promote and develop inclusive practices in both settings. This has and will continue to include;
- increasing the confidence and skills of staff in the mainstream setting to work with pupils with a range of learning difficulties
- to develop a greater awareness of mainstream practice and standards amongst the staff at Foxfield, and their confidence and skills to work with mainstream pupils
- to offer pupils with complex learning difficulties the opportunity to participate in relevant, meaningful and enjoyable learning experiences within a mainstream environment.
- to create links between subject specialists with a view of sharing expertise
- to provide training to mainstream staff as part of their induction programme
- to provide parents with up-to-date information regarding the plans for inclusion and support provided by both schools
Inclusive education is now said to be firmly established as the main policy imperative with respect to children who have special educational needs or disabilities (Department for Education and Skills, 2001a). It is championed as a means to remove barriers, improve outcomes and remove discrimination. Inclusion is, however, a complex and contested concept and its manifestations in practice are many and various.
Dr Gary Hornby states that “the most important rights of children and young people with SEN are the right to an appropriate education and the right to be fully integrated into the community to which they belong when they are adults.
Foxfield School will continue to promote inclusion links with mainstream schools with the clear understanding that the needs of the pupils are paramount and any change in the pupils’ education is of a clear benefit.