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Parents given a lesson on inclusion

Parents in East Renfrewshire will shortly be sent letters cautioning them that inclusion is changing the nature of classrooms from when they themselves were pupils.

Councillors heard this week of difficulties caused by rising numbers of children entering mainstream education in preference to special schools.

More than 60 per cent of violent incidents against staff involve children with special educational needs.

In a paper on inclusion, Ian Fraser, head of education services, said: "It is important to differentiate between a child who cannot behave appropriately because of the nature of their difficulty and not because of an informed choice that they make.

"In this respect, sometimes children with special needs are guilty of violence towards staff and over 60 per cent of the recorded incidents last session were attributed to pupils with SEN."

Parents are advised that more adults will be in classes to support pupils with learning, behaviour and physical difficulties. "Some pupils with a specific condition may exhibit challenging behaviour. These pupils will be supported within the class to ensure that their behaviour is not detrimental to the learning of their classmates," the authority says.

Some may have a special curriculum or individual arrangements. East Renfrewshire says no child will be disadvantaged.

The authority admits that inclusion can be difficult and requires "political courage and vision" and the "drive and determination" of headteachers to make it work.

In common with others, it reports a "significant increase" in the number of children with language and communication disorders or Asperger's syndrome.

More children are autistic. Many have part-time places in Carlibar Communications Centre or specialist provision within secondaries.

"Most of the children with moderate learning difficulties and increasingly children with Down's syndrome attend mainstream schools. There are only a few children (two with hearing impairment and two with physical impairment) who attend schools outwith the authority. Therefore most children with visual impairment, hearing impairment and physical impairment attend their local schools," Mr Fraser states.

The number of children with records of need has fallen from 275 in 1996 to 221 - an indication, he says, that parents are happier with the support provided by the council.

East Renfrewshire is running training days on anger management for teachers, classroom assistants and special needs auxiliaries, while schools are working on approaches to staged intervention. Other measures include crisis intervention and training staff in the use of calming techniques.

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