In Canada, students with special educational needs are usually included in our schools, with extensive support from Teaching Assistants (also called Educational Assistants) who are highly trained, patient, dedicated and life-savers for the teachers. Inclusion seems to be working, or so most of our teachers would say, before moving to teach in London, England that is.
Then they get to London. They teach in classrooms with 22-28 students from 22-28 different countries, with as many as 17 IEP's. The needs range from EBD (emotional & behavioural difficulties) to SLDs (severe learning disabilities) and of course, there are some gifted & talented.
Today, Sarah Ebner of Times School Gate fame, raises the question of inclusion and whether or not it's working in UK schools. As a parent and journalist on all issues education related, Sarah knows what it's really like in British schools:
"None of us wants our precious child sitting next to the difficult child at school. But this creates its own problems - what to do with the badly behaved and how not to write them off. Often the good, well behaved child, is put next to the difficult one, in the hope that their positive behaviour will rub off. This may be good for the naughty child, and for the class. I'm not sure it's good for the well behaved child (and I say this as a parent whose child often seems to be put next to the loud, misbehaving boy). It's all rather complicated, but that doesn't mean we should rush to the most popular conclusions (getting rid of the difficult and not caring what happens to them)."Some of our teachers work in separate SEN schools for students with EBD, but many of our teachers work in mainstream schools where everyone is included. I taught in mainstream schools myself, and can tell you that students with behavioural difficulties are in almost every class I taught in. Their behaviours vary (often on a minute by minute basis), but I can tell you that chairs are thrown, children hide under their desks, recycling bins are kicked, shouting & yelling is normal (whether by the student or the teacher at the end of their wits...).
So my question for you is - what should the UK do?
As Canadian or American teachers working in the UK, I'm sure many of our readers have very strong opinions about this very issue. Here's your chance to add your voice to the heated discussion. Should the students with EBD be sent away, perhaps to EBD schools or left at home, or should schools include everyone?
If you could "fix" the UK education system, what would you do? Or perhaps, you think it's not broken at all? Please share your thoughts below.
Also, please read Sarah Ebner's article to get more insight into this discussion and debate.
Classroom Canada Website
Guide to Teaching in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians by Yours Truly
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