Inclusion Now 58

My Positive Experience of Lockdown Learning

Kadijah Adam – a Disabled teenager studying in her local mainstream school – is interviewed by Michelle Daley, ALLFIE Director, for Inclusion Now magazine. We hear about her positive mainstream inclusion experiences at St Paul’s Catholic School in Milton Keynes, including how Covid-19 remote learning has enhanced her inclusive education experience.

Head and shoulders shot of Kadijah Adam at school. Kadijah is a Young Black woman with her hair tied back and she is pictured in her St Paul's Catholic School uniform, which is purple and yellow.

My name is Kadijah Adam, I am 15 years old and experience sensory, physical and learning difficulties. I’m currently studying Year 10 at my local mainstream school, St. Paul’s Catholic School in Milton Keynes where, out of 800 pupils, only a few are Disabled pupils. Before I started at St Paul’s there were discussions around me attending a special school, but fortunately my parents rejected the idea and I remained in mainstream education.

Why is it important that Disabled children attend mainstream school?

It’s a bit scary being in mainstream school – for example you get can red marks for things like late attendance – but I developed a small friendship circle, which is very important to me. I believe all Disabled children should have the opportunity to mix, to learn together, which increases our friendship circles, so nobody is segregated from the experiences of community life.

How have you found home-schooling and remote learning during lockdown?

I really enjoy home-schooling and remote learning. In a formal classroom setting, I find the size and structure difficult to cope with. This causes barriers which impact on how I work in groups and communicate with other pupils in the classroom, including forming relationships. At school, before lockdown, I often felt a lack of motivation and was considered by others as socially awkward. I was made to feel  that my epilepsy and other impairments were an issue to my learning. With remote learning, I find it easier and less stressful because I don’t have to deal with the school processes and structures. I have my own routine, I don’t have to move from one class to another, and I have my own desk with my laptop and phone to do school work. As a result, I now spend the week working on subjects which I do well in, which makes me happy and I feel motivated to do more work in my own environment. I also have fewer distractions, which gives me time to pursue topics and subjects I love. Remote education gives me control over what I’m doing with my learning, and motivates me to dig deeper into the topics I have learnt.

As a result of home-schooling/remote learning I was awarded the pupil of the week in English for the first week of December. I have also been nominated for 2019/2020 learning support achieved at key stage 3 – without home-schooling I wouldn’t have achieved this. I have also improved my cooking skills, which I’m passionate about. Over lockdown, I have done a lot of cooking and baking at home with my mum and sisters. Unfortunately, I don’t have access to my learning support assistant, but my parents have provided my support, which has worked well.

What should school look like after the lockdown?

I think that the Department for Education should talk with pupils to find out about our experiences on the good and bad things about home-schooling and remote learning. I don’t think we should go back to the old ways of schooling, children should have access to both in person classroom and/or remote learning and this should include: flexible timetable, choice of in-person classroom or remote learning, and access to support assistance outside of the classroom. I think these changes would improve accessibility of schooling and learning for all children.

I want more Disabled children like myself to be able to attend mainstream school so that everyone can learn together, which will help us to learn about unity and respect.