What the resource is.
This research report looks critically at the impact on mainstream schools, of the national policy for inclusion, using an empirical approach to the relationship between inclusion and achievement.
The aims of the resource.
The study seeks to answer five key questions:
- Is there any evidence that inclusion has an effect on attainment at LEA level?
- Is there any evidence that inclusion has an effect on attainment at school level?
- Is there any evidence of differential effects of inclusion on the attainment of different pupil groups?
- Is there any evidence that inclusion has impacts on achievements over and beyond the attainments that are captured in national assessment?
- Where highly inclusive schools also produce high levels of attainment amongst pupils, how do they manage this?
Key findings or focus.
The study took findings from a range and variety of research approaches to inclusion. The broad general conclusion from the literature review is
"...that placing pupils with SEN in mainstream schools has no major adverse consequences for the children's academic achievement, behaviour and attitudes and that there can be positive benefits, particularly in relation to mainstream children's attitudes and understanding of disability. This is a positive finding and supports international trends towards the developments of inclusive policies and practices...." (p.28)
This finding has major implications in terms of countering high profile criticism of the policy of inclusion by Warnock (2005) and others. However a major caveat noted within the research report is that the majority of the studies examined as part of the literature review were carried out in the United States, where schooling and special education are very different from in England, and the numbers of schools and pupils involved were quite small. From their empirical research Dyson et al (2004) presented a set of key findings: N.B This research doesn't find any significant negative impact on the learning of 'general education pupils' but ITT students need to be aware of the six key findings of the report
- no evidence of a relationship between inclusion and attainment at LEA level.
- a very small and negative statistical relationship between the level of inclusivity in a school and the attainments of its pupils. The possibility that this is a causal relationship cannot entirely be ruled out, though this seems unlikely.
- some evidence that the small negative relationship between inclusivity and attainment affects pupils with and without SEN differentially and that the nature of this effect is different in primary and secondary schools.
- some evidence (chiefly in the views of teachers and pupils) that inclusion can have positive effects on the wider achievements of all pupils, such as social skills and understanding
- these findings are in line with the international research evidence. Most studies find few if any negative impacts of inclusion on the attainments and achievements of pupils without SEN
- the detail of how highly-inclusive and higher-performing schools manage provision is different in each case. However, there is a model which seems to depend on flexibility of grouping, customisation of provision to individual circumstances and careful individual monitoring, alongside population-wide strategies for raising attainment.
These findings need to be viewed in the context of the full research report but represent a significant contribution to the debates on the purpose of the national policy of inclusion.
The quality, authority and credibility of the resource.
This is empirical research undertaken by respected researchers in this field and should be given more credence than ‘opinion pieces.' The research report focuses on both primary and secondary schools, It is a clear study that will allow ITT students to consider critically the implications for their own teaching in terms of inclusion in the primary classroom. The evidence provided is the most comprehensive study so far on the inclusion challenge but it already needs some updating in relation to the Every Child Matters (2004) and the five outcomes. For example: LEAs are referred to when we now have LAs. The school level issues will underpin and highlight for the ITT student the impact on their SEN pupils and their peers. The Introduction and the Literature Review are key sections for the ITT student to read and reflect upon.
The implications for ITE tutors/mentors.
The value of this research will be for a variety of ITE pathways:
- CPD: SEN focussed students & SENCO initiatives/courses
- ITT Students
- Foundation Early Childhood Studies at Level 2
The issues considered and researched will give all the above evidence of the impact so far of a national policy of inclusion and provide a vital framework for debate and consideration of educational settings and their inclusion policies and initiatives, most notably a more positive outcome for pupils in terms of related achievement, in particular the strategies for achievement [p.77] and what indicates a higher and lower performing school [p.92]
The relevance to ITE students.
Inclusion and current government programmes have an immediate impact on the developing educational philosophy and concept of the mainstream classroom of ITE students. They need to have a critical awareness of the issues of inclusion for the child experiencing SEN, the peers, parents and the whole school community. This research doesn't find any significant negative impact on the learning of 'general education pupils' but ITT students need to be aware of the six key findings of the report [pg. 11-12]. Also reports on the positive aspects of social outcomes. ‘This is a positive finding and supports international trends towards the development of inclusive policies and practices.' (p.28)
A consideration of this research is essential in the current SEN educational field as it underpins educational pedagogy and engages ITT in an arena of critical ‘inclusion' debate.
The following might be useful to read in conjunction with this resource:
Bartolo, P., Blake, C., Jacova, Z. (eds) 'Support for Learning', British Journal of Learning Support Vol 22, (2), Special Issues ‘International Perspectives on SEN and Inclusion.'
Farrell, P. (2001) Special Education in the last twenty years have things really got better? British Journal of Special Education. Vol 46, No.1 pg.3-9
OFSTED (2004) Special Education Needs and Disability: Towards Inclusive Schools. London: OFSTED
OFSTED (2006) Inclusion: Does it matter where pupils are taught? London: OFSTED
Warnock. M. (2005) Special Educational needs: a new look. London. Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain.
Critical debate, inclusion, negative v positive aspects, academic achievement , SEN , peers
Alan Dyson, Peter Farrell, Filiz Polat, Graeme Hutcheson, University of Manchester
Other Contributor :
Frances Gallannaugh, University of Newcastle
Article Id : 13637
Date Posted: 16/8/2007