The approach we have taken to writing this handbook reflects the approach that is needed to embed inclusive practice across schools - a shared vision and true collaboration, underpinned by professional challenge and respect for everyone’s strengths and expertise.
This handbook has been developed as a resource for teachers to use over time as they embed inclusive practice in their classrooms: it is not intended that it is read cover-to-cover. It has been written for both primary, secondary and specialist colleagues: teaching assistants, teachers, senior leaders and headteachers. The handbook includes whole-school and whole-class approaches as well as subject-specific and condition-specific guidance.
We have aimed to bring together, in one cohesive document, the perspectives of children and young people and their families, teachers and support staff, subject specialists, special educational needs co-ordinators (SENCOs) and other senior leaders, Headteachers, Educational Psychologists and specialist external agencies, including speech and language therapists, occupational therapists, mental health workers, physiotherapists and specialist teachers.
The graduated approach is the golden thread of this handbook, and will support all school staff in noticing, and being curious about, the children and young people in their classes: their strengths and interests, times when they are successful and times when they experience challenges to engagement and curriculum accessibility. The graduated approach, the assess-plan-do-review learning cycle, enables teachers to create an environment where children and young people can maximise their potential and develop the skills needed to prepare for the next stage in education and beyond to adulthood.
Throughout the document we refer to children and young people as ‘learners’ rather than pupils or students; this reflects their place in the classroom as active participants and the commitment we take as teachers to ensure all children and young people have access to the adaptations they need to engage with and progress in the curriculum. We see the curriculum as more than subject-based learning, encompassing the lived experience of the children and young people in our schools, including supported access to wider opportunities that promote genuine personal, social, and intellectual inclusion.
We are grateful for the support of the steering group: Tina Harvey, Margaret Mulholland, Julie Greer, Andy Lole, Elizabeth Denton, Felicity Dewsbery and Vicky Shires, who shared their expertise throughout the development and writing of the handbook, ensuring all content included stayed true to the intended ethos. This intended ethos was only achieved through the generosity of many who both contributed their expertise and provided constructive feedback from concept to creation. Contributors are listed, however there are many others including families, young people and professionals who provided insight and challenge through the writing of this handbook – a heartfelt thank you from us both.
Amelie Thompson and Katherine Walsh
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