Every eight hours, someone in the UK will become permanently paralysed. It could be as the result of an illness or something as simple as falling down the stairs. Spinal cord injury can affect anyone at any time.
= Play around with this bit – decide when you want to ntroduce yourselves, talk about your experience and why you are school advocates while keeping some key messages in there. Hearing why you do what you do will certainly engage the audience =
Spinal cord injury changes your life in an instant. Those changes are physical – limiting your movement, bladder, bowel and sexual function – and emotional and psychological too. Adjusting to spinal cord injury can be overwhelming. People often feel isolated and alone. The suicide rate is six times higher among people affected. Less than a third of people with spinal cord injury are in employment. But with the right support and opportunities, people who are paralysed go on to live active, independent and fulfilled lives.
Back Up is a leading UK national charity that inspires people affected by spinal cord injury to get the most out of life. Our award-winning, practical services challenge the perceptions of what’s possible and increase people’s skills, independence and confidence. Today, we’re at the forefront of helping people to adjust positively to spinal cord injury – because we have been there and can understand. Almost 500 highly skilled volunteers and staff make up our team – many of us are affected by spinal cord injury. We share our expertise at home and abroad, collaborate with and influence others to make sure good services are in place which everyone can access.
Back Up is the leading authority in helping children and young adults adjust to spinal cord injury – with specialist courses, wheelchair skills training, mentoring, support at school and participation opportunities. We are here today to share with you our front line work of ensuring children and young people with spinal cord injury are fully included in mainstream education. We will also talk about our growing influencing work - ensuring trainee teachers receive high quality inclusion training. Both our front line and influencing models can be applied to different situations. We look forward to hearing your questions and learning from your experiences.
Back Up’s school inclusion service started in 2009 on the back of research we commissioned by the Institute of Education, which identified that many children with spinal cord injury were not being included in mainstream school like their non disabled peers in areas like physical education and school trips. All services at Back up are driven by need. Services adapt to meet changing / identified need (youth city skills course and next steps course)
So how do we in the schools inclusion service work to ensure a young person with a spinal cord injury is able to participate in school life just like t their friends?
Tailored to the need – everyone’s needs are different and so is our support. Listen to all people involved supporting the child to bring together stronger communication while keeping the child’s voice and needs central. Understanding family and schools concerns not criticising them.
Peer led- all our services at back up are delivered by people with spinal cord injury themselves, bringing personal, lived experience to help others. We have a strong team of 20 plus school advocate volunteers across the UK diverse in age and experience with spinal cord injury.
Face to face support through assemblies raising awareness of spinal cord injury, class workshops as well as 1-1 support at annual reviews, telephone support and our online resource.
Here for whatever time a child needs us – starting a new school, transitioning between years….
Holistic – providing support to child, family, school and peers and other services at back up can meet other needs
Young people’s needs differ and so should the support given. Through our experience supporting young people with spinal cord injury in schools across the UK, it was clear that good practice of inclusion is happening, but it is not happening everywhere and more needs to be done. Our research shows that teachers themselves feel more quality inclusion training is needed. We believe that inclusion for all children and young people is possible with the right training, information and attitude.
We launched our #ThisSchoolIncludes campaign, which is calling for training on the principles of inclusion to all students teachers in Initial Teacher Training, delivered by people with disabilities themselves.
We have collaborated with a range of organisations to develop an inclusion training module for student teachers. We will be piloting the module with 2 UK training providers this coming year.
So what exactly is our skills for inclusion module?
It takes trainee teachers through what inclusive education is and why is it needed. It is not a module on identifying a list of long term health conditions but rather the principles of how to include a person who needs a bit more support, whatever support that may be. It focus’s on the key issues that often stop full inclusion happening and how to over come them including communication, attitude and disability awareness. The importance of promoting the voice and perspective of the child and providing real life scenarios of how to include a pupil with additional needs; seeking out the right people at the right time for support and focussing on what the child CAN do. We want all teachers to ask, ‘How can we include?’ rather than, ‘Can we include?’
We welcome your comments, questions and reflections! Here is our website and contact details
RIWC_PARA_A196 enabling children and young people with spinal cord injury to be fully included in education
“Not being able to return to
my old school impacted
negatively on my emotional
well-being as a teenager. I
spent several years thinking
being disabled meant no
future. I watched my peers
gain qualifications and
employment and developing
in self confidence many years
before me. I got there in the
end which shows with the
right advice and support a
devastating injury is not a
barrier to a fulfilling career.”
Tracy Moore, 32
• Tailored to the need
• Young person at the
• Family & professionals
• Peer led
• Face to face support
• Short and long term
• UK wide
100% of children and young
people who received face-to face
support were happier at school
“I feel more included at
school after the support
from Back Up because I
feel that I have more of
a voice now.” Maisie, 15
100% of schools improved their
understanding of inclusion needs
“She answered questions,
that staff weren’t even
aware they were thinking.
It allowed them to think
critically about the room
and how we will make it
inclusive. She made staff
feel able to ask anything.
She made everyone feel
The need for inclusive
Promoting the voice of the
Identifying circles of
Practice with real life