It is widely acknowledged that Teaching Assistants (TAs) have a prominent influence on the education of children in mainstream primary schools. However, the role of TAs is regarded by many educational professionals and researchers to be both highly complex and unclear. TAs undertake numerous pastoral and educational responsibilities within their role on a daily basis. Taking account of all of these in a role descriptor is very difficult. Continue reading Teaching Assistants: reconceptualising the role
Institute of Education, University of London.
Teaching assistants (TAs) are supporting our most disadvantaged children in almost every classroom in the UK. Despite our inclusive education system, these young people can be segregated because they spend more time talking with a TA than with the teacher. Of major concern is that, unlike the teacher, TAs often have limited training or preparation to do this very important job. Continue reading Improving the Practice of Teaching Assistants
At present, student voice is widely considered to be integral to much that occurs within educational systems across the world. Whilst pupils have been formally consulted within educational research for many years (Cortis and Grayson, 1978), there has been a recent upsurge in interest in involving children and young people as active participants. This is mirrored in proposals to promote their participation in decision making in a range of aspects of their school life including agency in relation to their learning (Flutter and Rudduck, 2004). Continue reading Promoting Inclusion Through Authentic Pupil Voice
From an international perspective, the over-representation of students from minority groups in special education placement is well documented in the research literature (Artiles et al., 2011; Ahram, et al. 2011; Skiba, et al. 2006; Valencia, 2010; Zion and Blanchett, 2011). My recent research in Ireland builds and expands on such research as it brings the intersectionality between social class and placement in special education centre-stage. The research highlights empirically, the disproportionality of students from lower socio-economic status (LSES) backgrounds in special education programmes. Moreover, empirical data illustrate that ‘students least likely to encounter widely available educational resources at home are also least likely to encounter them in school’ (Darling-Hammond, 2010, p. 22). These observations of discomfort mirror the seminal work of Illich (1971) that school can be the problem not the solution to in/equity because it creates mechanisms to discriminate against some and to privilege others. Continue reading Home/School Discontinuity is not Disability
The legacy left by the IQ test is an assumption that human intelligence is an innate and immutable personal attribute, that is normally distributed throughout the population (on a bell-shaped curve). This can be seen to have far reaching effects on the organisation of education as children are categorised according to whether they are thought to be ‘high ability’, ‘low ability’ or perhaps deemed to have ‘special educational needs’. The presumption that we can make judgements about future ‘potential’ on the evidence of current performance continues to legitimate practices of providing different educational experiences for children according to their perceived ability. Continue reading Extending opportunities to participate in learning
One of the key aspects of an alternative policy manifesto must be a more practical and comprehensive approach to inclusion in our schools and, ultimately, our society. The Children and Families Act, which recently gained Royal Assent, outlines some changes to the special educational needs and disability (SEND) systems and evaluations of the pilot projects show some positive progress. However, the Act does not impact on the power differentials between parents and professionals within the education system and does nothing to address the lack of knowledge and understanding of SEND present within many schools and local authorities. Continue reading Nowhere that fits: the realities of schooling for families of children with SEN
Engaging with students’ voices by listening to the multiplicity of their views on learning and teaching helps teachers to construct learning communities and to tune teaching and learning activities to the social and cognitive needs of students. In giving students some ownership of the educational processes by engaging in dialogues about the limits of choice in constructing teaching and learning to achieve curriculum objectives, in particular socio-economic and policy contexts, teachers encourage students to develop positive and pro-active identities as learners. These discourses demonstrate teachers’ respect for students and help students understand educational decision-making processes, as well as allowing them the opportunity to raise critical questions about those processes, developing and enhancing their skills as citizens and preparing them for adult life. Continue reading Students’ voices, democratic schooling and inclusion