Inclusion in the Early Years – Phyllis Jones
Inclusion is a big deal at the moment – I’m particularly aware of this since I’m currently studying the topic of inclusion on my Masters degree. In the UK there is a bit of a debate about the most recent version of the SEND Code of Practice, particularly the part that states that inclusion and quality education can occur either in mainstream schools or in special schools. The big push back to this Code of Practice is the argument of how are we being inclusive if we still have segregated schools?
Of course this topic could be argued endlessly and frequently is. So what does that have to do with this book? Well. this book takes Early Years classes from four schools – 2 mainstream and 2 special – and looks at the way they make their lessons inclusive. A single lesson, which the staff at the school believe highlights good practice, is then discussed in depth.
Ultimately, in an ideal inclusive world, all our children would be given a challenge and appropriate education in their local community school. The reality of current provision is that we need to learn more about how we can include a diverse range of learners in appropriate and exciting teaching and learning, whatever the context.
Each setting is described in terms of location, school set-up, the demographics of the school, class sizes and ages, and often with the descriptions of specific children with special educational needs. Then there are descriptions about the types of activities that are carried out in different lessons before the focus shifts onto describing the lesson that was considered the “best example of good practice”.
The lesson is a literacy lesson based around the picture book Handa’s Surprise. The book is used as a focus of a series of lessons in the classroom. The first lesson introduced the book, there was a shared reading, and then the children went shopping for the fruit in the book. The children used picture symbols in the shopping activity.
The second lesson shared the story again, this time as a ‘story sack’ experience, and then children split into groups for the following activities: fruit exploration and tasting, printing with the fruit, soft dough activity where the children roll and cut animal characters from the book, cooking activity where the children made animal characters from the book.
If you work with children with special needs then these lesson plans and descriptions are great for stimulating ideas for your own setting, if you’re a parent they can give you some ideas for play and learning at home. After all four best lessons have been described we then revisit each one to read about how the staff in the setting evaluated each of these best lessons and, most importantly, what they can do better next time or what they can do to stretch their students next time.
Is it worth reading?
If you are a family member of someone with special needs then this can give you an idea of what quality of education your family member deserves. If you are a professional within the field then it’s even more interesting to read each setting, evaluate it yourself and then take parts to use in your own setting. As I said above it only features four settings so it is limited in that scope, but worth a read.
Useful Links and Resources
http://www.cafamily.org.uk/ – This UK charity was mentioned in the book. They provide advice, information and support for the families of children with special needs and/or disabilities.