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EECERA 2007 PRAGUE. Inclusion in Early Years Childhood Education: A rich tapestry of diversity clouded by considerable challenge. Kathleen Clark Frances Ross-Watt Senior Lecturer Lecturer University of Strathclyde University of Strathclyde. Legislative Background.

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Inclusion in Early Years Childhood Education: A rich tapestry of diversity clouded by considerable challenge

Kathleen Clark Frances Ross-Watt

Senior LecturerLecturer

University of Strathclyde University of Strathclyde

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Legislative Background

  • The Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act, 2004

Broadened the range of pupils who require additional support

for their learning.

SEN sits within the range

No longer ‘special’ but individual needs (Corbett, 2002)

  • The 1980 Education (Scotland) Act

Choice of schools

  • The Children Scotland Act, 1995

Rights/Duties of education authorities and parents

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Legislative Background

  • The Education (Disability Strategies and Pupils’ Educational Records) (Scotland) Act, 2002

Scottish schools in compliance with the Disability Discrimination Act

Education authorities must have Accessibility Strategies Plans

  • The Race Relations Amendment Act, 2000

  • The Standards in Scotland’s Schools etc. Act, 2000

Presumption of mainstream for all children.

Collectively these bands of legislation provide a robust framework for 21st Century education in Scotland.



Equality of opportunity


(Thomas& Vaughn, 2004)

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Background to the Study

  • Quality Indicators (HMI, 2007)

  • Challenge of Inclusion (Hamill & Clark, 2005)

  • Changing curriculum framework

Four capacities for learning: confident individuals; effective contributors; responsible citizens; successful learners

  • A continuum of Support (West Lothian Council)

Policy and guidance + practical support “responsible inclusion” (Vaughn & Schumm, 1995)

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The Research (Phase One)

staff understanding of and views on inclusion

insights about schools’ support systems and strategies

Survey Approach

perceived needs in terms of project materials

good inclusive practice


17 schools – geographical spread: large/small; (primary and nursery) urban/rural; varying socio-economic factors.

All staff – promoted staff, class teachers, support assistants, nursery nurses etc.

Ownership:- Awareness of Researchacross the authority.

Additional good inclusive practice identified via Educational Psychologists and Cluster Heads based on knowledge of good practice for pupils requiring additional support.

“Bottom –up” model as discussed by Lunt (2002)

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Findings – Phase One

Quantitative and Qualitative data from the survey.

12 schools responded (111 questionnaires)

Responses from: headteachers, depute headteachers, principal teachers, class teachers, learning support teachers, nursery teachers, classroom assistants, nursery nurses, support assistants and auxiliaries.

Self-selecting sample views expressed both pro-and anti-inclusion

  • Understanding – matched to Armstrong’s (1999) definition

  • “a system of education which recognises the rights of all children and young people to share a common educational environment in which all are valued equally, regardless of differences in perceived ability, gender, class, ethnicity or learning styles” (page 76).

Outcome - 3 of the 12 schools overall appeared to have staff with a collective, clear understanding of inclusion based on the definition above.

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Factors which promote successful inclusion

The same 3 schools’ staff identified many of the factors already identified by: Lipsky & Gartner, (1996); Giangrero, (1997) and Visser, Cole & Daniels, (2003). These factors relate to the three dimensions that, according to Booth & Ainscow, (2002) promote inclusion.

  • The other schools

  • Mixed responses: SEN model of integration

  • Varying understandings of inclusion: no unified staff understanding or vision.

  • Support Staff: more narrow view than teachers but not exclusively.

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Responses: Understanding of Inclusion

  • “Inclusion of special needs pupils in mainstream education regardless of how disruptive this may be for the teacher and other pupils”. (early years class teacher A)

  • “All children, irrespective of needs to be included in mainstream schools although it is not necessarily the best situation for them or the other children”. (early years class teacher B)

  • “Children with learning and/or physical disabilities coming into mainstream schools”. (early years support assistant).

  • “Including children with various disabilities in mainstream school and nursery”. (nursery nurse).

dissatisfaction based on experience?

Teacher comments

concern for pupils with no identification?

principle sound, practice problematic?

Quality of experience

Support staff comments


No shared vision of process

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The Suggestions: Materials(Realistic Domain)

  • Videos showing good practice

  • Guidelines on legal requirements

  • How to work collaboratively

  • Examples of documentation re. support (Multi-Agency Support Plans)

  • Explanation of Inclusion

  • Simplified programmes of study/differentiation

  • Cross-referencing of resources

  • Contact numbers e.g. agencies, voluntary organisations

  • Practical advice.

    Feasible and to be considered

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Resources: Material

Resources: Extra staff

Continuing Professional

Development: Courses


More Special Schools

Reduce Class Sizes

Specialised Equipment



Better School Building

Permanent Contracts for all Support Staff

The Suggestions: Wish List

“It’s not material we need it’s staff!” (support teacher)

“I suggest the authority produces more special schools and teachers” (early years class teacher C)

These sentiments express strength of feeling about the changes demanded of staff. As stated by Hamill and Clark (2005) “The financing of inclusion cannot be underestimated”. (Page 35).

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The Research (Phase Two)

  • Good practice identified – Observations

  • Filming in good practice schools

    • Interviews

    • Classroom/school routines and practices

    • Responses

  • Hardcopy material to support video (case studies including early years )

  • Links to key initiatives and documents

    Audit Curriculum framework West Lothian’s Continuum of (3-18) Support

    Ensuring quality responses to individual needs within the culture of supportive,

    inclusive classrooms and schools, whose staff have a shared understanding and vision of inclusion.

    Staff development and evaluation to be key factors in the desired changes.

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Case Studies

  • Autism / ASD early yearsP1

  • Verbal Dyspraxia

  • Able Pupils

  • Cerebral Palsy

  • English as an Additional Language early yearsP1

  • Dyslexia

  • Down’s Syndrome early yearsP3

    ( Representing Levels 1- 4 on the Continuum of Support)

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  • 4 Mainstream schools

  • 2 Special schools

    Outreach Support to Mainstream

    Pupils on split placements

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Range of Filmed Practice

  • Classroom

  • Social Settings

  • Support Settings

  • Collaborative Planning Meetings

  • Planning for Transition

  • Multi- Agency Collaboration

  • Partnership with Parents

  • Cluster Resource Group Meeting

  • Outdoor Activities

  • Systems/Strategies/Resources at School/Classroom and Individual levels.

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  • Head teachers and other management personnel

  • A range of school staff ( LST, CT, SA etc.)

  • Educational Psychologists

  • Speech and Language Therapists

  • Outreach Support Teachers

  • Visiting Teachers ( EAL etc.)

  • Parents

  • School Counsellor

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Leon’s School : Quality Indicator Themes

  • Key Performance Outcomes

  • Impact on Learners

  • Impact on Staff

  • Impact on the Community

  • Delivery of Education

  • Policy Development and Planning

  • Management and Support of Staff

  • Partnerships and Resources

  • Leadership

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General findings Across Good Practice Schools

  • Strong leadership : Leading by example

  • Teamwork

  • Commitment of staff / willingness to give a bit extra

  • Partnership with parents / range of agencies

  • Good communication / liaison between staff and across agencies

  • Supportive ethos

  • Positive attitudes

  • Celebrating diversity

  • Acknowledging achievement

  • Shared vision of inclusion

  • Evidence of “ A Curriculum for Excellence “: Embracing policy and guidance

  • Early identification / early intervention

  • Targeting resources / support

  • Whole school approaches / systems / strategies

  • Awareness of the importance of the pastoral role in education

  • Preparation for transition ( nursery - primary, class - class )

    All qualities listed in the quality indicators (HMIe, 2007 )

Evidence of Vygotsky’s philosophy embedded in practice

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The Package

  • DVD and hard copy case studies / pupil profiles

  • Examples of MASPs and pupils’ work

  • Audit tool based on HMIe (2007)

  • Matching each school in the study to the audit tool based on observations made

  • Continuum of Support and how it has been accessed in each case

  • Authority /School / classroom and individual support strategies, systems and resources

  • Highlighting the steps in the journey towards successful inclusion in each case

  • Weaving in and cross-referencing national policy, authority policy, the continuum of support & a Curriculum for Excellence.

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What Now?

  • A staff development pack to support staff who in turn will support pupils (scaffolding for both)

  • Staff development to introduce staff to the materials

  • Evaluation within clusters to find out its impact in other schools

    Sharing Good Practice within an authority that is operating a model of “responsible inclusion”

    ( Vaughn & Schumm, 1995 )