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Inclusion Now Articles Issue 12

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Amelia's Children - Beech Green Nursery School

Young Voices - Updates from two young adults

North South Dialogue - Report from a New Delhi Conference on Inclusion

Two Contrasting Mornings - Observations from an SEN Advisory Teacher

UN Draft New Convention - Richard Rieser calls for protest

Deaf Pupil Enriches School - A teacher's story

Spa School Blues - Poem

Right to Reply - Responses to Channel 4's 'Make Me Normal'

Why Inclusion? A parent tells her story

All of Us - Play Review

New Law Strengthens Rights - Disability Discrimination Amendment Act

Amelia's Children

Between 1956 and 1973 Amelia Fysh ran a nursery school which pioneered inclusion decades before the original Warnock Report. Brought up in Grimsby, she trained as an emergency teacher after the war. Shocked at the class size of 50 in primary school, she turned to nursery education, believing this was where she could make a real difference to children's lives. She became head of Beech Green Nursery School in Aylesbury in 1956.
Her delight and fascination in children meant that she could not see any reason to turn away any child from her nursery, whatever needs they had. She welcomed children with a wide variety of impairments, despite having no extra staff or facilities in the beginning.
Amelia's aim was to allow pupils to express their natural tendency towards inclusion through creative play and the many hundreds of photographs that she took during her time at Beech Green document this beautifully.
This wonderful archive of photographs is at last to be given a public exhibition and will be on view from July 14th to 21st at the Queens Park Arts Centre, Queens Park, Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire. The exhibition will be open on Mondays - Thursdays, 10am - 9.30pm and on Saturdays, 10am -2pm. Amelia is thrilled that Dr Tom Shakespeare, a former pupil of the nursery, will be a guest speaker at 7pm on July 20th at the Aylesbury Grammar School in Walton Street. For further details contact the Arts Centre on 01296 424332 or visit
A small glimpse into the vast photographic archive.
Text by Amelia Fysh:
The stories of these children serve to highlight the value of inclusion. So much to be gained by both disabled and non-disabled children in learning compassion, tolerance and mutual respect; learning to value both shared common factors and unique differences.
Michael had a severe hearing loss as well as Ataxia. He attended a unit for hearing impaired children in the morning where he had to work very hard. Then he came to us for school dinner and a happy time with his choice of play. His cheerful nature was a most loveable characteristic.
Roger knew his strengths and his weaknesses and he built on one and accepted the other. Thank you Roger, for helping us to know you.
On the occasion of my 80th birthday we managed to contact him. He's doing well reflecting his early determination working as a gardener.
Jamie was a remarkable child who, in spite of his limited growth and fragility, did so much. In outdoor play the other children would give him rides - and NO accidents! Responsible four year olds felt it a privilege to push Jamie, thus learning to care and share.
Careful provision and suitable adjustments made for his inclusion in ALL activities.
Ian's control in outdoor play enabled him to use his wheelchair to give rides in a pram tied to his chair. Here he is stopping - to get petrol!
One day a four year old came to me when I was busy and said 'come and see what Amanda is doing'. He knew I would want to know that there she was going up the steps and down the slide (with staff close by) - Amanda was registered blind.
Joseph had haemophilia. Although we kept a close eye on him he was allowed to do what he wished within the normal bounds of safety. He did not have any accidents and enjoyed climbing or any physical activity. (A member of staff is behind that wall!)
Emma was an inspiration. She had spina bifida and was hydrocephalic. She was a true pioneer and showed such pleasure in being introduced to sand and water play. My knowledge of spina bifida was nil! We coped because of our basic philosophy: that every child is 'special' and needs to be loved and valued.
Donato and Jonathan both used walking aids and Jonathan also wore a caliper on one leg. His physiotherapist had advised against crawling but he would climb into the sandpit. When asked the whereabouts of his walker he said 'I've parked it'. He was a real 'outdoor' boy, always active. Donato can be seen using a pram instead of his walking aid and giving a child a push.
Build on what the child CAN DO - sharing music, games and all group activities. Always look for the POSSIBLE. It is our business to study and know our children and LISTEN to them as they discover their own REALITY OF THE POSSIBLE.
Amelia Fysh


Young Voices

My name is Anthony Ford-Shubrook. I was runner up in the Learning Skill Council London West region Annual 'Champions Of Learning' Award.
I gained this award because I have worked incredibly hard to study for my A levels. I am a physically disabled person with a speech difficulty. As a wheelchair user, accessing education has often proved difficult. I am unable to write so I need to dictate all of my work and my exams. Dictation and exams are tiring and I therefore have to be more disciplined and efficient as I cannot revise for as many hours as other students. I feel that I have exceeded many expectations and despite many obstacles, have achieved a lot.
I really enjoy education, especially Geography, and hope to read Geography at university and then work for an organisation that supports people in developing countries. I have been offered places at UCL (London), Reading, Southampton, Sussex and London University Royal Holloway. I really want to go to Royal Holloway because it's on a campus.
I had my education in mainstream schools. Even though it wasn't easy I know that I would not have achieved so much if I had been to a special school. Just by being in my college, students and staff now realise that a disabled person like myself wants to achieve academically and be accepted socially like anyone else. So to all you disabled young students - don't give up and if you want any hints on how to survive, contact me.
Anthony Shubrook

My name is Judith and I am the mother of Liz. We have both been members of Parents for Inclusion and the Alliance for Inclusive Education for many years now.
I wanted to share some good news with you - Liz has been awarded a place on a foundation Art Diploma course at Weston College on interview and portfolio. They have offered a statement to cover both her ME and literacy needs and put her into a part time mature student group whose teaching days will allow her to continue her music education with her cello teacher and theory teacher in Bristol.
The college waived the need for 4 GCSEs (she's already doing a short photography course which helped as an intro I think). After all the horrible experiences we had with South Gloucestershire LEA this is a 360 degree turnaround. They are the total opposite and I am sure we are benefiting from inclusion work and a totally different attitude. The difference it has made is immeasurable.
Liz always knew from her work with the Alliance and Pi that inclusion was possible and she has encountered it now. All that hard work over all those years is paying off at last! If only it would filter into the resistant areas! We resorted to home education on the principle of 'first do no harm' (much too late in the day and she paid a very heavy price educationally and emotionally) but she had stuck at it through statements not actioned, special unit in an 'accessible' school (not!), home tuition, hospital school and PRU. Having done our own thing highly successfully for four years full time it is a joy to at last find the sort of responsive provision she's always needed and we've always believed was totally possible!
It is so good to be able to share a positive outcome for once!!!
Judith Kefalas


North South Dialogue on Inclusive Education

New Delhi, March 2005
Richard Rieser
North South Dialogue III was an amazing conference which brought together disabled people, parents educators and government officials.
Good practice on inclusive education was shared from Brazil, Russia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Australia, Canada, United Kingdom, South Africa and all over India.
We learned that to make inclusion work is not dependent on resources but on the will to make it happen. That transforming the attitudes of parents, administrators and disabled people themselves was the key.
The Conference marked the culmination of a Canadio-Indian collaboration with the publication of three really useful hands on manuals about how to develop inclusive education in poor countries- CAPPI-III.
Whereas many countries have got legislation in place, appropriate mechanisms to put it into action have not been worked out, leaving
hundreds of children without any services and out of the safety net of essential services. To address this systemic failure in India, the National Resource Centre for Inclusion, India has been working on several levels.
To create a mechanism of implementation of inclusive education specifically dealing with children with disabilities, a code of practice has been designed called CAPP which stands for Culturally Appropriate Policy and Practice.
During the Conference we were assured by the Indian Government that they were going to take inclusion seriously. This certainly seems true as in April the Government laid before Parliament a Comprehensive Plan for developing Inclusive Education. This statement commits to getting all children into mainstream education by 2020.
Existing special schools will become resource centres to support the development of inclusive practice. Every University which provides teacher training will appoint a professor of inclusive education and all students will have inclusion as a core part of their course.
A Global Alliance for Inclusive education was set up to campaign, support and develop inclusive education. Now there only remains a world to win.

"We come together to further international dialogue and alliances across such groups and to lend support to individual campaigns to end exclusion that may focus on particular groups.
We celebrate and are committed to respect for human dignity, diversity and the equal value of every person, consistent with inclusion in society in the context of human rights, anti-discrimination and social justice.
We are committed to working in solidarity with like-minded individuals and groups - disabled people and other adults and youth who have been marginalized and segregated, their family members, practitioners, academics, government representatives and other allies - and to welcoming diverse perspectives and voices in support of inclusion.
Disabled people, their families and others who have been marginalized must play a lead role in the struggle for inclusive education for all.
Sharing particular concern for the educational access, inclusion and participation of disabled learners, we are committed to furthering those ends for all learners."


Two Contrasting Mornings

I spent, by chance, two mornings on consecutive days with two 4 year old children, one in a special school and one in a mainstream school. Both children had similar levels of ability.
It was two different worlds.
The first morning I arrived with Damien at nine o'clock and we waited for about half an hour for the other children to arrive on special transport and be made ready for class. After some introductory activities as a group we did an activity with some bricks, trying to make a tower and to make a pattern with the colours. Damien was not interested in this activity but we persevered.
Then it was time for the children to be 'toiletted'. With so many disabled children this took a long time. With hands now washed it was time for a snack. Again this was a long process, seating children and helping them with drinks and snacks. Then it was time for outside play. Some children were transferred to wheelchairs and coats put on and we were ready for the cold. Back inside and out of coats, I looked forward to the next lesson. To my amazement it was quarter to twelve and there was just time for a little story and they were off to the dining room.
The next morning I took Jake to a large primary school. We arrived at nine and Jake was encouraged to make some marks as the children signed on a large piece of paper. We had a story and a song and some counting activities, in which Jake enjoyed the rhythms. Then we got down to the activities. There was a wide range of activities and Jake had a go at all of them - briefly. I looked at my watch and it was half past nine. Jake had already done far more than Damien had for the whole morning the previous day! So we went back to some of the activities he had enjoyed most with encouragement from some other children. Then the teacher involved him in a group matching activity with my support. Then it was break time and after a visit to check his nappy and sit on the toilet, he played outside.
After break the children changed into PE clothes and there was a dance lesson which Jake enjoyed enormously. We again worked on some of the class activities and then there was a story and a song and the morning closed.
It was two different worlds.
SEN Advisory Teacher,
Northwest England



The United Nations are drafting a Convention on the Rights of disabled people
Richard Rieser
There is a Committee that has been meeting in New York consisting of a number of States including the European Union and disabled peoples organisations.
The United Kingdom will be leading the European Delegation in New York from 1st to 12th August. The main problem is that many states are not prepared to specifically give disabled people the same human rights that everybody else is already entitled to.
Another problem is that a number of disability organisations representing blind, deaf/blind and Deaf people don't want inclusion, but the right to choose separate segregated education. This is what is being proposed in Article 17 on education.
Protest and ask the British Government to defend disabled people's rights. The Department for Work and Pensions have been co-ordinating the British Government response. Please Write to David Blunkett MP Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions, Parliamentary Relations Unit, Richmond House, 79 Whitehall, London SW1A 2NS. Send a copy to Ann McGuire Minister for Disabled People at the same address or e-mail by going online to:

Draft Article 17: Right to Education
The final wording of this Article needs to ensure, at least, that the following objectives are met:
That every child with a disability has access to compulsory education;

An obligation on state parties to develop inclusive education and reduce segregation and phase out separate 'special' schools and provide a continuing safeguard against them being set up and against segregation in mainstream settings;

That no child or adult with disabilities is discriminated against in their access to education (all levels of education from primary to university, including life-long learning) in a mainstream setting, by making these settings accessible to all and by providing, when needed, reasonable accommodations;

That the Convention ensures that it does not in anyway diminish the rights established under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) which amount to a right to inclusive education;

That there should be safeguards for those with particular communication needs such as blind, deaf/blind and deaf children and students to be educated in groups with the appropriate communication systems such as Braille and Sign Language.


How the arrival of a Deaf pupil has enriched our whole school

by Lis Watson
The journey of a Deaf child through the education system is often a complex one. Fierce debates continue about the best approach to Deaf education.
The parents of a Deaf child may feel they have entered a minefield as they consider the merits of oralism, signing, total communication, or a bi-lingual approach.
Each child is an individual and has different needs. Also the needs of a particular child may change as he or she matures. Social and academic needs must be considered and the balance of priorities may shift at different stages in the child's development. As the needs of the child change the placement may also need to change. Often the best placement will involve an element of compromise.
It is beyond the scope of this article to discuss these important issues further, rather we want to share our experience of how our whole school community has been enriched by the arrival of a Deaf pupil.
All Saints' Blackheath is a small church school in the London borough of Lewisham. We had no previous experience of working with Deaf pupils, let alone a pupil who communicated through British Sign Language. When we learnt that a profoundly Deaf pupil would be joining our Year 5 class there were some misgivings.
Although the pupil would have a full time communication support worker to aid communication during lesson times we worried about play times. How would the children in the class communicate with him? We were also concerned that having someone signing in every lesson might distract the other pupils and hinder their progress.
Instead our experience has been richly rewarding for all concerned. There have been many very positive spin offs for the pupils, staff and parents of the school. The whole school community has become more Deaf aware and has been able to learn about Deaf culture. Parents have commented that they find the signing in church services and assemblies a very beautiful and enriching addition.
A most positive benefit has been the huge interest in learning British Sign Language. A lunchtime club was started for the Year 5 pupils to learn BSL. In June nine of those pupils were entered for the CACDP Level 1 exam. Some pupils have been inspired to continue learning BSL when they leave primary school this July, and have already started to prepare for Level 2. One Year 6 pupil is planning to be a junior helper on a summer play scheme for Deaf children. Another is hoping to start a BSL club at her new school.
Lunchtime signing clubs for Year 3/4 and Year 1/2 have been well attended. Reception class have also started to learn some BSL. More than sixty pupils, ranging in age from four to eleven, have attended the various signing clubs. Recently we were proud to discover that we are to receive an award at the 2004 European Languages awards. The pupils were pleased to meet two of the judges who visited our school and to have the opportunity to show them what happens in the different clubs.
A particularly exciting and unusual development has been the interest shown by some of the parents. An after-school club where parents and children can learn BSL through stories and games was set up by one of the parents. Other parents meet together for an informal "Coffee and BSL" morning in one of their homes.
The hearing pupils in our school have enjoyed the opportunity to learn a new language. It has also been an area where the Deaf pupil has been able to take a lead and demonstrate his expertise. When asked what advice he would give to other mainstream schools with Deaf pupils, he said start signing clubs so that the hearing children learn to sign.
We have appreciated the support from Greenwich Education Authority who provided the funding for a full-time communication support worker. Without Louise Sinclair's enthusiasm and expertise it would not have been possible to run the lunchtime sign language clubs. Regular visits from Andrew Burgess, head of the Hearing Impairment Advisory Service for Greenwich, have provided ongoing support for the class teachers and Learning Support Co-ordinators. Andrew has also been involved in training staff in Deaf awareness and hearing aid management. We have valued the high level of personal involvement from an advisory service.
We have also valued the link which has been established with the hearing impaired unit of Thomas Tallis, a local Greenwich secondary school. Leigh Bish, Deaf instructor at Thomas Tallis, organised the special permission required for children under the age of twelve to take the CACDP Level 1 exam. He also ran a series of exam preparation classes at our school. These classes were a valuable opportunity not only to prepare for the exam, but also for our hearing children to meet a Deaf adult and for our Deaf pupil to relax with another BSL user.
Our aim to introduce sign language in a meaningful rather than a tokenistic way has involved a huge amount of time and commitment from many people. However, it has not only been for the benefit of one pupil. Far from being distracted from their studies the other children in the class have had the chance to learn a new language. The whole school has gained an insight into Deaf culture, and signing is now a valued part of our school.
Lis Watson.
Learning Support Co-ordinator.
Article first printed in SIGNMatters


The Spa School Blues

Written after watching 'Make Me Normal' featuring four young people with autism who all attend a large State run Special School. Shown on Channel 4, June 2nd 2005

Four beautiful young people
Alive, feeling, wondering why
The world does not seem to want them.

Every day they are sent to Special School
To hear from Jude
And her conspirators
That the world does not want them
Because they are flawed
To the core of their beings
And their AUTISM won't go away
But will ruin their lives
Unless they practice and practice and practice
Acting like normal people

Special School has a mission it seems
A curriculum based on self hatred.
"I have to drum it into them"
Jude's earnest voice informs us
"What a big and awful thing
Their AUTISM really is".
She needs them to know this, she says,
So they can not expect too much of life.

It works. They are learning.
One looks at the camera and says she has
one friend,
Just one friend in the whole world.
"Is life worth living with just one friend?"
She asks.
Another is desperate to have a girl friend
But no young mates to show him the ropes
A third spills her pain all over the playground
Not knowing she is being filmed.

The youngest, just lost his mother to cancer
Climbs into a trunk
And from the dark safety inside
Wonders if his bad behaviour killed her.
Now it is too late, he says,
To tell her he was sorry.
No one comforts, no one reassures,
No one explains that they are good,
Magnificent and courageous,
Interesting and delightful.

No one tells them that they are loved
and wanted,
That autism is part of them, like their hair
and their eyes,
Or that it is the world which needs to practice
Carving out the unique places
Each one of us needs
In order to be included,
To live a life amongst people
Who can embrace our differences
And in so doing,
Embrace their own.

Don't make us normal.
Make us welcome.

Micheline Mason


Right to reply

More responses to 'Make Me Normal'
I watched the programme and was appalled by the way these young people with autism were being treated, but also horrified by the write up in the Times the following day. It felt like being back in the dark ages.
I work in Somerset as part of a team including youngsters with impairments into mainstream schools, it's hard work changing perceptions, and a programme like that does so much harm.
Eleanor Bird
Advisory Teacher

Someone go and tell and teach Channel 4 and the makers of this terrible programme and the school's head and teachers and other workers there about the 'social model', PLEASE!!!
I was horrified by this documentary. I have spoken with Adrian Wyatt of DANDA* too about this programme and he shared my views and we agreed that this kind of programme needs to be challenged by us and was so 'stereotypical' and is abuse of our basic human and civil rights. The programme will reinforce negative attitudes and behaviour and stir up more 'disablist' attitudes and behaviour towards 'us' from others in society.
The programme did not give a balanced viewpoint on ASD at all. It was so negative and where was the positive life-stories in living with ASDs.... I forgot to mention that in my opinion what happens to the children at this school and how the makers of the documentary presented it was child-ABUSE!!
Colin Revell - 'Aspies for Freedom' -a self-run group of neuro-diverse people.

*DANDA stands for Developmental Adult Neuro-Diversity Association


Why inclusion?

by Liz Wilson
I am Elsa's Mum. Elsa is nearly nine and has the label of 'severe learning difficulties'. This is the story of her inclusion.

The story starts 42 years ago, long before Elsa, when I was a little girl.

After a long wait, the baby sister I had been promised finally arrived. She was a boy! Nevertheless, I was delighted. The grown-ups didn't take it so well. There was a lot of weeping and whispers. The celebration fell a little flat. I didn't realise boys were so awful.

As time passed I overheard he was a 'mongol', inferred this was bad. When the next baby was due my uncle came with his car and we took Kenny to hospital. The nurse came and put him in a cot. It was cold and grey, not like the one at home. There were lots of cots - three long rows, more than I could count. They each had babies and little children in, sad children with snotty noses and no smiles. Kenny had to stay there for three months because Mum couldn't manage him and a new baby, and no-one else would help. A lot of the aunts thought he ought to be left there forever. Mum got him back as soon as she got out of hospital. Me and mum loved him.

Eventually, Kenny went to special school and grew up. He didn't die like the doctors said he would.

Although we got him out of hospital, he never quite made it into life. The special school was fantastic - bright, sunny, caring staff - so far from the hospital that we couldn't see past it to a better alternative. He could! With amazing persistence and resourcefulness, Kenny regularly escaped from the safe garden with the reinforced fence, to go out to play with his sisters on the street or neighbourhood. Often he found us, he learned to ride a bike and swear. Sometimes we weren't where he expected and he kept going - the neighbours or Police brought him home later, puzzled about why he should run away.

Me and my sisters left home and moved away. Mum, dad and Kenny retired to the country. They didn't know anyone, it was peaceful and safe compared to London. Kenny began to 'lose his skills' (depression) and just before Dad died, he moved into a residential 'community' thirty miles away from the place where he had eventually found his way around and made friends in.

Mum is dying now and she is worried that Kenny won't have much contact with people who aren't paid to be with him. Ten years ago she didn't want him to move in with me - too far from her. Now she wonders if she made the right decision, and I know I asked the wrong person. I know Mum did her very best, with the information she had, in the time that she lived. Mum and Kenny's gift to me and Elsa is that we don't have to make the same mistakes.

So Elsa's story is different. Born with the same condition as her uncle, she has been loved for who she is right from the start. When I went back to work when she was six months old she went to the local nursery. Before she was three I thought about retirement, and decided to move to where I wanted to be sooner rather than later, why waste 30 years anyway?

Elsa went to playgroup, then started school just a few minutes from home. We walk up the hill to school with the other children in our street. Circles of Friends have transformed school life - for everyone! Kids come home to play, sometimes sleep over. She goes to Brownies with the rest of the girls from school. Camping is a bit weird with no lights in the tent, but the others shared their torches when the batteries ran out.

Mainstream school is about far more than education. Elsa may never learn much reading, writing and arithmetic, but other lessons are more important: how to be with all sorts of children and their families; how to make friends; how to play….

So I have a dream, that when Elsa is 42 and I am getting old and tired, I will be able to relax, because when she walks down the road to the shop she will be greeted by people who know her name, served by someone she went to school with. That local children will know her as one of dad's school-mates. That when people go to the hairdressers, they will chat to the woman who washes their hair, even of she doesn't say much.

I dream that some of the children who are in her circle now will still be in it when I am dead and gone - that they will keep her at the centre of her own life. That they will check in on her and her husband, who may not be the prince she plans on now, but a good man who loves her as much as I do. If she has nieces and nephews they will enjoy her company, invite her to their parties. She will have plenty of her own parties for friends and family.

Segregated school would never allow this future. The foundations of my dream rely on real relationships and respect in our local community. Mainstream school is not yet perfect (for any child) but it is the path to inclusion in life.
Liz Wilson


All of Us

All of Us is a 50 minute play about inclusion in a secondary school written by Janice Connolly and performed by 'Women and Theatre'.
Directed by Terina Talbort, it was commissioned by Birmingham Council Action for Inclusion. From 2004 it has been on several tours of Birmingham Schools. It raises issues equally for staff or pupils.
I watched it with the entire teaching staff of Wheeler Lane Technology School. It had a big and positive impact on the staff.
The play covers three pupils: Kevin who is a challenging child - his mother committed suicide when he was 8 - and often lashes out; Kai who is deaf and attends the resource provision at the school and his younger brother Pal who has cerebral palsy, is non-verbal and uses an electric wheelchair. There is also plenty of interaction with dinner ladies, parents and staff. Amazingly all parts are played by only three actors. The play raises a whole number of inclusion issues which the actors then work with the audience on.
I can thoroughly recommend the play. If you want to arrange for a performance (cost between £500 and £1000) please contact Women and Theatre: 0121 440 4203
or e-mail:
As Pal writes and Kai reads to a wholeschool assembly:

"All of us are different
And all of us the same
All of us want a chance to take part in
the game.

None of us deserve to fail
For we all have our gifts
But none of us will get the best until the system shifts.

All of us is difficult
That's what some people say,
But other people see it as the only way
For all of us to live our lives as they were meant to be,
Where none of us are wasted,
And that means you and me."
Richard Rieser


New Law Strengthens Rights

Just before the Election an important piece of legislation was passed into law-
The Disability Discrimination Amendment Act 2005
From December 2006 all public bodies-
When carrying out their functions public authorities must have due regard to develop training around these new duties to:

Promote positive attitudes towards disabled persons;
Encourage participation by disabled persons in public life;
Promote equal opportunities;
Eliminate disability related harassment;
Eliminate unlawful discrimination.

These duties will apply to exam boards, OFSTED, Councils, Local Education Authorities, Schools, Colleges and Universities to name but a few. The law will allow anyone with an interest to seek a judicial review if they can demonstrate that the body is not implementing the duty.
There is also a specific duty to make a disability equality plan and the educational bodies above have all been included in this duty as well. The plan will be similar to that which has to be made under the Race Relations Amendment Act.
There is more information on the DRC website:
Disability Equality in Education has teamed up with Scope to provide training around these duties. For more information: or phone 0207 359 2855 and ask for Chris Sherwood.