Out of tune with inclusivity

30th May 2003 at 01:00
The Royal National Institute for Deaf People, the British Deaf Association and the British Association of Teachers of the Deaf have received many complaints regarding the content of this year's key stage 2 short writing test for 11-year-olds.

Teachers of the deaf are concerned that the paper included a compulsory question requiring pupils to write a radio advertisement for a new toy.

Obviously the task was unsuitable for many deaf children who don't have the experience of listening to radio and therefore had no model for answering the question. Professionals are concerned that deaf pupils cannot be fairly graded, and schools' results will be adversely affected.

The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority claims the question aimed to test persuasive writing abilities and the choice of the radio medium was "incidental". However, children with profound hearing loss (and many with severemoderate losses) will have been immediately disadvantaged through lack of experience of radio, which has nothing to do with their literacy skills.

This incident highlights some of the issues raised by the move towards inclusive education.

For inclusive action to be effective, all aspects of the school and curriculum must be accessible, including testing. This test highlights the need for clearer understanding of the range of disabilities and special needs now presented in schools.

Clarinda Cuppage Royal National Institute for Deaf People 19-23 Featherstone Street London EC1

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