04 SES 08 B, What We Learned (And Will Learn) About Inclusion From The Pandemic
As education systems across Europe begin to recover from the covid-19 pandemic, to what extent will processes of ‘rebooting’ create spaces for re-imagining inclusion and exclusion in schooling?
Currently – and historically – resource allocation for children who may be vulnerable to exclusion has typically been subject to gatekeeping, involving ‘expert’ diagnosis and labelling. For those identified with special educational needs or disabilities, this held the promise of access to specialist teaching and protection from exclusion. Yet research in recent decades has highlighted the importance of more inclusive pedagogies (Florian et al, 2016); and children identified with disabilities remain disproportionately subject to disciplinary exclusion (DfE, 2019).
For example, in the pre-covid era, up to 40% of all school students were identified with special educational needs or disabilities at some point during their school career (Hutchinson, 2020). Post-lockdown, the system for supporting learners identified with special educational needs risks being overloaded with increased demands for assessment and support. It seems likely that many more children will need additional support, having missed significant periods of schooling or with experiences of bereavement or loss, or under the impact on families of a deep new recession.
In this context, is there an opportunity to advocate for a refocusing of resources away from assessment and labelling and towards providing additional support for individuals as needed? The author proposes that challenging the hegemony of normalcy is necessary to enable educationalists to contest the ‘new normal’ and create more inclusive school communities.
This paper will critically examine the policy context in which inequalities in education are deepening through the pandemic, taking an intersectional approach to dis/abled, minoritised and historically disadvantaged groups. It will present an account of emergent evidence on the experiences of children identified with special educational needs or disabilities and their families. It will draw on the author’s current research within a major longitudinal study of developing more inclusive secondary schools.
This paper draws on a literature review and takes a discursive approach to developing a critical stance on implicit concepts of the 'normal' in European educational systems. The paper draws on perspectives in critical disability studies in education, critical race theory, critical educational psychology, and sociocultural psychology.
This paper points to opportunities for reconceptualising normalcy in relation to inclusive education systems; and the need to move beyond the constraints imposed by funding processes based on categorisation and labelling.
Florian, L., Rouse, M., & Black-Hawkins, K. (2016). Achievement and inclusion in schools. Routledge Department for Education. (2019). Timpson Review of School Exclusion. London, Department for Education Hutchinson, J. (2020) Special educational needs and disabilities: identification, access and patterns of mental health support, Interim strand 1 findings: 01/02/2020. Education Policy Institute.
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