Inclusion, action and latest ideas

29th October 1999 at 01:00
Jackie Harrop on recent publications.

Actively Seeking Inclusion: Pupils with Special Needs in Mainstream schools. By Julie Allen. (Falmer Press pound;15.99.) Some may find the academic perspective off-putting, but the case studies explore ethical considerations and challenge some of the assumptions which prejudice inclusive practice. There are interesting observations about hierarchies of special needs, and the variations in responses elicited by highly visible special needs and those elements of difference which provoke discomforted responses in providers. The arguments are helpful in understanding the barriers to inclusive practice in organisations which function on conformity and consistent provision.

Enabling technology for inclusion. Edited by Mike Blamires. (Sage Publications pound;18.99.) This is a curious mix of technical, practical and theoretical concerns about technology as a tool for inclusion. Its use to promote creativity, exposition, enabling and assisting is described with examples of strategies which ardent technophobes would find accessible. The sections on sensory impairment are particularly helpful.

The role of ICT in socialising and independence are both explored and the role in raising self-esteem is undisputed. There is an extensive references section, with lists of suppliers and websites.

Adventures in Disability. By Anne Tynan. (Tynan Publishing pound;12.) This slim volume was written as an introductory handbook for personnel and training officers, and addresses a number of sensitive and rarely articulated issues relating to attitudes and responses to disability which prompt honest reflection on values and principles underlying current practice. It challenges assumptions and provokes reflection.

Approaches to Teaching and Learning: Including Pupils with Learning Difficulties. By Ron Babbage, Richard Byers and Helen Redding. (David Fulton pound;15.) This book takes the blunt but honest stance that the development of segregated education has little to offer, and that good teaching is what characterises successful practice in special or mainstream school. What makes this significant is that it is written by experts from special rather than mainstream school.

In focusing on teaching methods, learning preferences and organisational and contextual factors it redresses more than a decade of theories based on models of child deficits. In describing the conditions necessary to create a learning culture, and defining characteristics of teaching and learning, the opening chapters enable managers to support teachers in developing reflective practice.

Learning Disability in Focus: The use of Photography in the care of People with a Learning Disability. By Eve and Neil Jackson. (Jessica Kingsley pound;12.95.) The strategies suggested in these case studies would be particularly helpful to those working with autistic pupils, or with social or communication difficulties, severe learning or emotional difficulties. The techniques described involve using photographs and visual images to support discussion, raise awareness and act as visual prompts or props.

Special Talents, Special Needs Drama for people with learning disabilities. By Ian McCurrach and Barbara Darnley. (Jessica Kingsley pound;15.99.) The book focuses on further education but would be a useful reference for staff working with younger peoplel. The activities aim to develop confidence and a communication and social skills and offer the basis for a 20-session course which could be carried out by non-specialists. It is full of realistic hints and tips ranging from preparation and health and safety matters, to tips on shooting a video on location outdoors.

Using Television and Video to support Learning A handbook for teachers in Special and mainstream schools. Edited by Steven Fawkes et al. (David Fulton pound;15) This book reminds teachers of the potential of this medium and extends the way it is used, particularly to develop communication skills in children with special needs.

The creative use of school or commercially-produced videos needs careful planning but can elicit active participation from pupils with a range of severe and profound learning difficulties. There is a useful section on the way inaccessible environments can be made immediate through these techniques, which may inspire some innovative approaches in rural areas, with excluded pupils, for children educated in hospital tuition services or otherwise.

Jackie Harrop is head of learning support services for the London borough of Harrow.

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