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At Piper’s Vale, we work hard to ensure every one of our pupils has the tools and support they need to be able to learn in the same manner as their peers.
Often inclusive learning is seen as something solely for children with special educational needs. While this is certainly part of it, inclusive learning is far more – it is a practice which includes everyone.
We approach it by looking at the individual needs of every child at our school. These can be academic, and often are, but we also examine other factors such as independence, resilience and attention skills. There are often other barriers to learning to consider, including social, gender and economic issues. This holistic approach allows us to see the whole picture, and from there we are able to take positive action and provide the most effective support.
There is often some confusion between the terms ‘inclusive learning’ and ‘integrated learning’. Integrated learning, where students with and without disabilities all learn in the same classroom can be very effective, and where this is the case then we will work to provide it. However, in other cases integration can actually be a barrier to learning. For instance, children who have needs such as autism and/or challenges with sensory processing may at times find it easier to learn away from the main class in our specialist SEN unit, enabling them to access the work in a more helpful environment.
Much of the support we provide is done from within our school, however if we feel we don’t have the right resources to give the most effective support we will use external specialists instead, such as Teenage Mental Health which helps support children struggling with anxiety or disruptive behaviour. We also work closely with other schools in the Trust, regularly meeting to work together and share best practice and expertise, which can then be applied successfully to our individual schools.
Due to Covid, the past year has required considerable work to ensure all children continue to receive the same learning opportunities. One major challenge was the ‘digital divide’ over the two periods of remote learning; many children, both at Paradigm and nationally, were unable to access online learning due to a lack of devices or insufficient internet access. To help bridge this gap we loaned out Chromebooks and dongles which were preloaded with data allowance. We also made sure our SEN pupils had regular sessions with support staff over a Google Hangout.
Now, children have returned we are identifying any gaps in their learning and effectively filling them through the careful grouping of pupils, strong teaching and effective interventions. This ensures that ALL our students continue to make the necessary progress, enabling them to achieve more through education.