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Inclusive practice


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All mainstream practice needs to change in order to ensure fairer opportunity for all. Understanding inclusive practice is fundamental to the good practice development within any organisation. Furthermore, an inclusive environment is a right to which we are all entitled, and one that we all have a responsibility to make happen.

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Inclusive practice

  1. 1. INTRODUCTION All mainstream practice needs to change in order to ensure fairer opportunity for all. Understanding inclusive practice is fundamental to the good practice development within any organisation. Furthermore, an inclusive environment is a right to which we are all entitled, and one that we all have a responsibility to make happen. Intentional Welcome and Active Listening • Practitioners need to encourage diversity to come through door, and have a multitude of strategies on offer to suit all types of individuals. • Get the welcome right and then really listen! • Safety and belonging are everything! • What do we need to feel both confident and competent in delivering our service. • We can all participate when we get what we need, in order to be catered for, we need to be listened to. Celebrating diversity • It is about being valued for who we are, and not been treated the same. • Being equal is being treated as individuals, this individuality needs to be respected and celebrated. • As humans, our basic needs are similar, but the way we get them satisfied will be different. • If we feel safe, secure and included, we can be ourselves, and be honest about what our needs are, so that these can be met. • All individuals need to feel in control about what happens to them, both physically and emotionally. • It is about recognising choice (or its lack as an abuse of power), and also recognising that there are some demands on our lives where we cannot always make a choice, but being aware, particularly as providers, of the difference between the two. Inclusive Practice
  2. 2. Definitions of ‘inclusion’ vary widely according to context, and many existing definitions are highly contradictory. To reflect a never-ending process in this document ‘inclusive practice’ has been chosen, in preference to ‘inclusion’, to reflect the understanding that it is not a state but a way of working. Furthermore, it reinforces the idea that both practice and ideas are subject to change. The emphasis is on practice, which means to do something repeatedly in order to adapt to changing circumstances, and implies development and transformation. Development is ongoing and this needs to be clearly articulated in the way people work. Inclusive practice is an emergent process: rather than offering an alternative to existing habits, it builds on existing best practice and develops different action that eventually transforms culture. It is vital that inclusive practice is not understood as a tool to ‘mainstream’ the difficult or the needy. Crucially, practice needs to become flexible and person- centred so that it respects and responds to individual needs. Consistent steps towards greater equity through inclusive practice, engages all participants, by creating an environment that fosters belonging. The development of inclusive practice articulates the underpinning philosophies of equality and diversity. It builds on existing success by changing practice and policies in mainstream settings, and ultimately strengthens relationships improving the lives of whole communities. Everyone Matters The development of inclusive practice fundamentally tackles the issue of equity - equal outcomes. Changes in practice made to address culture will ultimately secure a better entitlement for all children and ensure an increasing quality and better standards across all provision. The principle of equality has to be reinforced and extended by the practice of equity. On the basis of the discussion so far three broad principles about the nature of inclusive practice will inform the rest of this document: Equality: every human being has an absolute and equal right to common dignity and parity of esteem and entitlement to access the benefits of society on equal terms. Equity: every human being has a right to benefit from the outcomes of society on the basis of fairness and according to need. Social justice: justice requires deliberate and specific intervention to secure equality and equity. (Chapman & West-Burnham 2009) Inclusive practice is an important component of a wider move towards enabling environments and positive relationships, one which will ensure all children can reach and exceed expectation, fulfil early promise and develop latent potential. At the heart of inclusive practice is the expectation of participation, fulfilment and success. (NCSL West-Burnham 2008). On the most basic level belonging is nurtured when the culture is accepting and allows each individual to be honest about his or her needs. Getting it right can often be straightforward, if the strategies put in place help people feel they belong. However things go wrong when practice and language do not support acceptance, and people are expected to fit in. It is the ‘shared and common agreement’ that often is not expressed in language and behaviour, and further reinforced by rigid systems. All too often decisions are made without enough thought as to who holds power in decision making. It is all too tempting for adults to take charge and organise activities in ways that suit them and not the wishes of the child. Defining Terms
  3. 3. Equity means all children getting equal levels of satisfaction and benefit from shared activities. Having an opportunity to share in all setting activities enables the personal development that supports increasing levels of life satisfaction, physical and mental health. When children enjoy an equal experience, inclusive practice is working well. That is why equity is an unpinning aim of recent strategy and legislation - Every Child Matters and the Children’s Plan. Strategies for change also need to be developed in accordance with the principles of the Children’s Plan. As is clearly articulated in local government strategy The Children’s Plan: • Government does not bring up children – parents do – so government needs to do more to back parents and families. • All children have the potential to succeed and should go as far as their talents can take them; • Children and young people need to enjoy their childhood as well as grow up prepared for adult life • Services need to be shaped by and responsive to children, young people and families, not designed around professional boundaries. • It is always better to prevent failure than tackle a crisis later (DCSF 2007 pp5-6) The principles serve to help workers to plan new provision and achieve the outcomes that address every child’s wellbeing. (Every Child Matters, The Children’s Plan and The Workforce Strategy documents are all available in full through the Every Child Matters and Council websites.) Every Child Matters and the Children’s Plan
  4. 4. Every  Child  Ma.ers  Five  Outcomes:                    THE  PRINCIPLES                                                                                THE  PRACTICE Every  Child  Ma.ers  Five  Outcomes:                    THE  PRINCIPLES                                                                                THE  PRACTICE Every  Child  Ma.ers  Five  Outcomes:                    THE  PRINCIPLES                                                                                THE  PRACTICE Be  healthy      Be  healthy      Be  healthy       Enjoying  good  physical  and  mental   health  and  living  a  healthy  lifestyle   Enjoying  good  physical  and  mental   health  and  living  a  healthy  lifestyle   Understanding  personal  health Making  healthy  choices  about  diet  and  lifestyle Strategies  to  enhance  mental  and  emoFonal  health Awareness  of  issues  relaFng  to  sexual  health  and  drug   abuse Developing  a  posiFve  self  image   Stay  safe  Stay  safe  Stay  safe   Being  protected  from  harm  and   neglect   Being  protected  from  harm  and   neglect   Strategies  for  personal  safety   Freedom  from  bullying,  inFmidaFon  and  abuse Freedom  from  discriminaFon   Access  to  appropriate  support  and  intervenFon Living  and  learning  through  secure  relaFonships   Enjoy  and  achieve  Enjoy  and  achieve  Enjoy  and  achieve   GeMng  the  most  out  of  life  and   developing  skills  for  adulthood GeMng  the  most  out  of  life  and   developing  skills  for  adulthood Access  to  balanced  and  relevant  learning  experiences Support  in  learning  how  to  learn A  culture  of  high  aspiraFons  and  expectaFons Opportunity  for  success  and  achievement An  integrated  and  developmental  curriculum Make  a  posiFve  contribuFonMake  a  posiFve  contribuFonMake  a  posiFve  contribuFon Being  involved  with  the  community   and  society  and  not  engaging  in  anF-­‐ social  or  offending  behaviour   Being  involved  with  the  community   and  society  and  not  engaging  in  anF-­‐ social  or  offending  behaviour   ParFcipate  and  contribute  to  all  aspects  of  life Share  in  social  learning,  acFviFes  and  projects Volunteer  and  provide  to  the  wider  community   Develop  tolerance  and  respect Engage  in  social,  cultural  and  sporFng  acFviFes Achieve  economic  well-­‐beingAchieve  economic  well-­‐beingAchieve  economic  well-­‐being Not  being  prevented  by  economic   disadvantage  from  achieving  their   full  potenFal  in  life Opportunity  to  develop  skills,  abiliFes  and  interests Awareness  of  career  and  employment  possibiliFes Awareness  of  economic  and  social  opFons Opportunity  to  develop  skills,  abiliFes  and  interests Awareness  of  career  and  employment  possibiliFes Awareness  of  economic  and  social  opFons
  5. 5. The next challenge is to listen to people, starting with those among us who already experience discrimination. • How does the perception of fairness differ across our communities and organisations? • Have we learnt from past injustices? • Have we really listened? • Have we changed our behaviours? • Who writes the new rules? • Who decides who is heard? Establishing the balance of power fairly and safely should be a priority and benefits all parties. Our life histories, social culture and systems will inevitably influence the outcome of any meeting. If we are not aware of how we are influenced we may fail to consider the truly important issues leads us to assess clothes, accents and appearances and to make judgements corrupted by our own prejudices. This in turn will influence our thoughts, direct our actions, and hinder openness and acceptance in each new encounter. We need to be clear in our understanding of stereotype and prejudice. Whilst stereotypes are essential in our ability to process difference and enable a fine-slicing based on experience and instinct. Prejudice means being lead by our stereotypes into making assumptions; we need to be careful to challenge and re-evaluate these assumptions, and hold them up to scrutiny at every opportunity. It is one thing to hold a set of ideas on a subject we know a lot about, through both experience and expertise. It is quite another to jump to an initial reaction to something or someone, based on a lifetime’s accumulation of negative media and biased information. “Our first impressions are generated by our experiences and our environment, which means that we can change our first impressions - we can alter the way we thinslice - by changing the experiences that comprise those impressions.... It requires that you change your life so that you are exposed to minorities on a regular basis and become comfortable with them and familiar with the best of their culture, so that when you want to meet, hire, date, or talk with a member of a minority, you aren't betrayed by your hesitation and discomfort. ” Malcolm Gladwell, (2005) Blink The power of thinking without thinking. Penguin. There are still too many people who have been subjected to rigid, exclusive systems and negative attitudes and who fear the additional burden they might face when joining a new group. Every one will quickly pick up on even the subtlest signals given out by those around them. Attitudes translate into behaviour and will impact on a person’s feelings of empowerment and their expectations. To feel welcomed enables us to join in with a game, activity, routine, or the life of a community group. Every person has a right to be heard: their strength needs recognition, their expertise needs appreciation and their experience must be valued. If those in power are overly concerned with their own position, will they have the strength to really listen? Stereotypes and prejudice
  6. 6. Positive attitudes to families, to children and difference are essential. It is important that: • the child is seen as a child, first and foremost • the child’s needs are viewed holistically, rather than being defined by a diagnosis of difficulty or disability • the rights of children and families and the limits on professional involvement professional are clearly understood • professionals understand that each family will have its own needs and circumstances. No two families will be the same • professional interventions should be designed to strengthen families • professionals need a positive ‘can-do’ attitude and a professional disposition to ‘support’ but not to ‘rescue’ Making Inclusion Happen in North East Lincolnshire, Sharing Good Practice (October 2006) A feeling of belonging is crucial to participation and engagement of people within any community. Because belonging is an emotion it can only be owned and experienced by the person, we cannot deliver or impose it on others. However, what we say and do will have a serious impact on how the people around us feel they belong. It is through other people’s acceptance that we get a measure of our sense of belonging. So to express acceptance we need to behave in ways that say to those around us that they are both valued and wanted. We need to expect levels of complexity within our relationships when expressing these feelings and we cannot expect everyone we meet to experience the same feelings in the same way. Doing nothing and leaving it to chance is not acceptable, particularly if we are in positions of power within a relationship. We need to take responsibility for the part we play in each new relationship. Expressing acceptance successfully demands far more than just a statement of tolerance. Tolerance is a passive state of acknowledgment of difference; it is too shallow to convey meaningful intent to work together as equals. Tolerance fails to acknowledged different and examine stereotypes - it avoids engaging in interaction that may, for some, feel raw and uncomfortable to begin with. In the long-term, meaningful relationships unlock understanding that can fuel learning. It is all about a positive attitude
  7. 7. Tolerance is only part of the answer, people are entitled to an unconditional acceptance of their presence within our communities. Furthermore, by being honest and open in our intent to actively understand each other we can behave in a manner that exemplifies this unconditional acceptance. At the heart of acceptance and belonging we need to find the meaning of respect for each other. Respect also means honouring people’s boundaries to the point of protecting them. If you respect someone, you do not intrude. At the same time, if you respect someone, you do not withhold yourself or distance yourself from them. I have heard many people claim that they were respecting someone by leaving them alone, when in fact they were simply distancing themselves from something they did not want to deal with. When we respect someone, we accept that they have things to teach us. William Issacs (1999) Dialogue and the art of thinking together To feel respected as people we need to be understood as complex individuals with a multitude of facets. Unfortunately, all too often we draw conclusions from a single perspective, more alarmingly if it is only from our own. As humans, our basic needs are similar, but the way we get them met will be diverse. Some will say that it is unfair if certain people get different treatment. However, if your definition of fair is: everyone gets the same, then the experience for each person is likely to be unfair. If we are to create respectful environments then we will need to expand our definition of ‘fair’ to mean ‘everyone gets what they need to participate fully’ (not necessarily what they want) and using this definition in our practice we are much more likely to accommodate diversity and respect difference. Many, sadly, still perceive inclusion as a “disability” issue. And that a solution will be achieved by changing practice to accommodate this ‘other’ group of young people; or by finding these ‘others’ separate provision more suited to their access requirements. Unfortunately, if we separate groups by order of perceived potential we are denying their basic human right to growth. We also run the risk of behaving in a way that says that our values, principles, and practice are only relevant to typical children and can be ignored for those perceived as too different. Developing Respect
  8. 8. Children’s Wellbeing Wellbeing has always been of great concern to all those involved with children; they know it promotes children’s participation, social interaction and ultimately gets results. However, with wider pressures arising from a culture of testing, there is a fear that new priorities will negatively affect teachers, parents and children. In view of recent research children’s happiness need to be taken more seriously to enable a better learning experience. Happiness Having a positive approach to life and finding pleasure in developing personal skills does a lot more than make the activity enjoyable. Happiness literally unlocks creativity, enables flexibility of thought and allows openness to new information, all vital to motivation and making meaning. Ensuring that children’s happiness takes top priority necessitates a wider choice and flexibility in practice. The practitioner’s relationship with the child is all-important to this, as they have to know the child well in order to know their strengths, weaknesses, likes and dislikes. Defining happiness Happiness in the learning context needs to be defined more clearly than by common and vague notions of heightened pleasure or a neutral state in the absence of pain. It needs to be understood as having quite specific implications for performance, and long-term implications for achievement. Research shows that ‘subjective well-being’ measures correlate closely to feelings of happiness, so settings can determine levels of wellbeing with accuracy by asking children how happy they are. This is essential knowledge in view of recent legislation, as from now settings will need to assess and evaluate the effectiveness practice, policies, and strategies are having on children’s wellbeing. Vision - Wellbeing for All
  9. 9. According to Seligman (2007), three routes to happiness enable a ‘Full Life’; these are the ‘pleasant’, the ‘good’, and the ‘meaningful’ life. Together they enable children to flourish, as they prevent what he terms an ‘Empty Life’. It is worth noting that they all differ, some can be changed more easily than others through practice and training. However, a person who can engage through all three dimensions will have a ‘fuller life’ than a person who engages with one or two. Essentially, the life satisfaction produced by addressing the three lives combined appears to be greater than the sum of the parts, and is therefore the most successful route to flourishing.A further ‘time’ dimension also needs to be added, as present happiness is critical to future wellbeing. Raising aspirations are needed to realise potential, because imagining a positive future is impossible when presently unhappy. Strategies for change: Inclusion is a process of identifying and breaking down barriers which can be environmental, attitudinal and institutional. This process eliminates discrimination thus providing all children and young people with equal access to play. (Play Partnership 2007) In this way, ‘inclusive practice’ is best understood as a journey towards a barrier-free culture. This takes time and must not be seen as immediately achievable or an alternative to present practice. Settings will have to develop new ways of working, while they move towards a more personalised service - one that responds to every child’s individual needs. Evidence from the UK shows that irrespective of their differences all children can be successfully included in appropriately accommodated mainstream settings. However, the challenge is to make this a consistent reality so that all families can rely on high quality provision across the whole of Bradford. The development of inclusive practice will ultimately have a positive impact on every child’s wellbeing as specific strategies are developed to change each setting’s environment to give a richer and more enjoyable experience. The extent to which children’s happiness is taken seriously and their experience monitored will determine life chance for all.
  10. 10. Core purpose: Most sources agree that without clear purpose people drift and become unhappy. People are happier when having identified their strengths, can put them to good use in a meaningful way. If the skills enabling happiness are so important to people’s lives, why are they not seen as higher priorities? Children’s Services are quite prepared to teach children many skills, yet happiness does not seem to be one of them. As Gilbert explains, when he compares to lack of time given to the development of happiness to that given to ‘potty training’: … we also expect that with a few years, practice and coaching will begin to have their remedial effects, innocence will yield to experience and education, and pooing errors will disappear altogether. So why doesn’t this analysis extend to errors of every kind? (Gilbert 2006, page 196) One of the reasons is that happiness is viewed as deeply personal, however to enable children to flourish, practitioners need to understand its subjective qualities a lot better, in order to enable it in children. … if practice and coaching can teach us to keep our pants dry, then why can’t they teach us to predict our emotional futures? (ibid. page 196) Human beings are very reluctant to believe other people’s experience when it comes to happiness, and are more inclined to believe their own feelings about past or future situations. However, as past or future thoughts are skewed by present feelings, such as the ability to get used to pleasure or underestimating the impact events will have on future feelings. Happiness needs to be taken as a present quantity, it is useless as a retrospective and anticipatory measure; and the only way to teach children about happiness is to ensure they are happy at any given time. Once this is properly understood, happiness becomes a basic skill and a priority invaluable for future wellbeing. From a rights perspective, pursuing a value based approach, also delivers on fairness, is easier than having to decide which children are worthy of the label of achiever. As Ainscow puts it, trying to define ‘social exclusion’ or ‘inclusion’ is misleading, as some definitions imply that there are forms of exclusion that are not social and therefore acceptable (2006). If the purpose of Children’s Services is to support young people in learning to be happy, by which criteria is exclusion permissible – who does deserve to be unhappy? Final words... © L M Chapman - EQuality Training - 2010. For more information on any aspect please do get in touch with us. 01484 530 321, 0773 792 5573,