Disability Access Initiative - Meeting spells out new duties for schools
City NUT was in the privileged position of hosting a meeting on the Disability Access Initiative on May 22nd with Richard Rieser as guest speaker.
Richard, a long standing NUT member, has spent the last two years looking at how schools have responded to the task of making reasonable adjustments to meet the needs of disabled pupils. The DfES are now about to make his series of DVDs available to schools.
Speaking at New Parks House, Richard said that it was disappointing how little some schools had changed. However, he then focussed on the many and varied ways in which other schools had made real efforts to take account of a range of disabilities. These included ADHD, visual Impairments, epilepsy, medical problems, physical disability and disfigurement.
Using excerpts from one DVD, Richard showed how schools could, with thought and preparation, incorporate and involve children with disabilities in the ordinary classroom.
He stressed the difference between integration – where children may be sitting in the same classroom but there is no attempt to engage with the disabled child – and inclusion, where children are genuinely all taught together.
Richard went on to point out that, from December 2006, all Secondary Schools are required not simply to take account of Disability, but also to positively promote Disability Equality. This will apply to Primary Schools from December 2007.
As a consequence, schools need to be thinking now about carrying out a Disability Audit so as to identify barriers to learning for disabled children.
It was disappointing that the backdrop to this meeting was the recent report commissioned by the NUT, entitled 'The Cost of Inclusion.' This report, by Maurice Galton and others, pointed to the toll on staff and pupils of under-resourced inclusion. Unfortunately, it failed to then conclude that the answer was to ensure proper funding and support, and lapsed into the 'maybe inclusion isn't a good idea' stance that the Tories have been pushing.