An overview that reassures

24th January 2003 at 00:00
Do you have a stack of papers piling up, beckoning for your attention? Being left-handed, mine is just out of vision somewhere over my left shoulder. There it gathers a little dust until I have a free evening and a large mug of coffee.

This month I came across Count Us In: Achieving Inclusion in Scottish Schools. The HM Inspectorate of Education document pulls together and reports on most of the recent developments we are all familiar with and reviews much that is fundamental in everything we do. It is so important that it could form a continuing professional development programme on its own.

I found myself wanting to reread some of the reports mentioned. I can also hear one friend saying: "Get a life, Sheilah!"

To be of best value, the entire school staff should read and reflect on its messages. Only then might it be possible to establish the strong shared values it talks about. It is daunting to try to change attitudes and reach families; yet there are lots of very interesting practical examples to help us all with a way forward. I could not stop myself saying: "We do that I and that." It is reassuring when you discover that your school is moving along the right lines at least in some ways.

Many schools will be pleased to see it is realised that we must measure more than the achievements of the most able pupils.

Towards the end of the document it reports: "During the course of gathering evidence I a number of headteachers argued that there was currently an over-emphasis on judging the success of schools on a limited basis which focuses strongly on the success of more able pupils in examinations and national tests. In such a context, schools may even feel that there is a positive disincentive to including pupils who have special needs or behavioural difficulties. To ensure that this is not the case, schools need to be positively rewarded for their successes in promoting inclusion, as well as for their successes in more traditional measures of academic performance."

Where should we go from here in our efforts to learn about the important messages concerning the national priority for inclusion and equality? May I suggest that local authorities could provide CPD based on this key report and save so many headteachers the task of trying to provide such support themselves? Each participant could, perhaps, have their own copy of the report. (Anyone who knows me knows that I will try anything to save the pound;200 it would cost me to buy copies for my team.) Just a suggestion.

Sheilah Jackson is headteacher of Queensferry Primary in Edinburgh

If you have any comments, e-mail scotlandplus@tes.co.uk

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