04 SES 07 E, Inclusion from the Viewpoint of Students: Listening to the learners’ voices
It has been shown (Imray and Colley, 2017; Kaufmann, J, Ward D and Badar, 2014; Carpenter, 2015) that initiatives to include all in mainstream school settings have largely failed to include those with complex learning needs. In particular, young people with profound and multiple learning difficulties (PMLD) have for the most part been ignored in the policy and practice of inclusive education in a number of European countries, even where the concept of 'full' inlcusion is embedded in policy..
It is the author's contention that practitioners and researchers need to embrace what Burch (2017) calls 'the disruptive potential of disability' (p. 16), revisit the Western concept of a 'good life' (Johnson and Walmsley, 2010) and invert the conventional wisdom that policy and practice is extrapolated 'from dominant discourses in the wider community down to people with disabilities' (p. 34). No one, Johnson and Walmsley challenge us, 'travels the other way' (p. 136), and takes as the starting point the 'internal worlds or subjective being' of people with the highest level of need (p. 126), but that is what the author proposes in this paper, and is exploring in his doctoral research at the University of Cambridge.
By embracing new conceptual frameworks such as critical realism (Watson, N 2012), phenomenology (Simmons and Watosn, 2014) and the Capabilities Approach developed by Amartya Sen (1992) and Martha Nussbaum (2006) the author will propose a new paradigm of inclusive education for those with PMLD based on actual functioning and realistic opportunity and not on academic or linear outcomes.
The author will ask not just what is the purpose of education for those with PMLD (Ware, 2017) but what is the purpose of education for everyone because ‘If we get this right, it will apply to all’ (ibid).
The author is in the first year of a part time PhD at The University of Cambridge Faculty of Education and is currently reviewing literature and interrogating policy around curricula and outcomes for young people with profound and multiple learning difficulties (PMLD). His field work will be in a number of school settings where he will examine practice and outcomes for learners with PMLD aged 14 and above as they prepare or life beyond school. He will also be exploring innovative ways of accessing the voices of the learners themselves as well as their parents an carers.
A long-term aim of the research is to make an impact on educational practice and provision so that young people with PMLD can have school experiences which are appropriate to their needs and lives, and enjoy outcomes which support them and their carers to live lives which are just, dignified and of value. The author intends to show that if we are to 'think through and successfully confront issues of disability, doing so will make society more compassionate, more secure in its sense of community and more understanding of human vulnerability and dependence' (Woolf p. 147).
Burch L (2017) Governmentality of adulthood: a critical discourse analysis of the 2014 Special Educational Needs and Disability Code of Practice. Disability and Society (2017), DOI: 10.1080/09687599.2017.1383231 Carpenter B, Egerton J, Cockbill B, Bloom, T, Fotheringham J, Rawson H and Thistlethwaite J (2015) Engaging Learners with Complex Learning Difficulties and Disabilities. Abingdon. Routledge. Imray, P and Colley A (2017) Inclusion is Dead. Long Live Inclusion. London: Routledge. Johnson K and Walmsley J (2010) People with Intellectual Disabilities. Towards a good life? Bristol. The Policy Press Kauffman, J, Ward, D and Badar, J. (2016) The Delusion of Full Inclusion, in Foxx R and Mulick, J (eds) Controversial Therapies for Autism and Intellectual Disabilities. New York: Routledge, pp. 71-84 Nussbaum M.C (2006) Frontiers of Justice – Disability, Nationality, Species Membership. Cambridge, MA. Harvard University Press. Simmons B and Watson B (2014) The PMLD Ambiguity. London: Karnak Books Limited Ware, J. 2017, ‘Assessment for learners with PMLD’, BERA Annual Conference Sept 5th 2017 Watson N et al (eds) (2014) Routledge Handbook of Disability Studies London: Routledge
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