Saturday, 13 December 2014

The unconference on inclusion in education: tell us what you would like to see covered. In ten words!

We are really excited to see so many people have already signed up for our unconference on inclusion in education. See our previous post here  for full details and book your ticket on Eventbrite here.

We would like to ask all those who have booked a place to let us know what they would like to see covered.

The challenge is to do this in ten words!

Let us have your ideas and we will post them here.

What you want to talk about

How do you achieve inclusion in a resistant community? 
Charlotte Buckby, parent, social worker and IPSEA Rep.

Inclusion into what? Normative assumptions, 'reasonable adjustments' and appreciating diversity.
Damian Milton, parent, academic, campaigner

Has the SEND reform given parents and young people any more control over their own education - or just more meetings?
Barney Angliss, SENCO

How can Special and Mainstream collaborate effectively to support inclusion?
Simon Knight, Special School Deputy Head, Associate Director at the National Education Trust and Director of Teaching School at the Oxfordshire Teaching Schools Alliance.

How do we make special schools redundant?

Jarlath O'Brien, Special school headteacher

How can children's rights and the UNCRC be utilised to promote inclusion and social justice in education?
Sophie Christophy, journalist, 'childrens' rights geek' social historian

Blog posts

For excellent contributions to the discussion about 'inclusion', you could also look at the following blog posts. We have listed the posts alongside the author's username so you can follow them on twitter.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Unconference on inclusion in education: come and share your views!

We have been actively following the SEN reform process.

The passing of the Children and Families Act has felt like little more than a fight to stand still.  'SEN issues' have not been mainstreamed: instead, they continue to be sidelined as if they were a topic of interest for 'experts' affecting only a few 'special' children. There has been scant talk of equality and human rights. Instead, the talk is usually about 'support' and 'signposting' which can feel like a rather patronising pat on the head.

This kind of approach impacts heavily on our children and young people as it affects the perspectives on disability we encounter in society generally.

We, at the ERA, feel it is time to change the conversation.

We would like a genuine and frank discussion about SEN, disability and equality in our schools. This is a massive topic so there are many issues which could be discussed. For example, what is 'inclusive education'? Does inclusion differ from equality? How? Does this matter in practice? How do we ensure people are aware of their equality rights and that they are enforced? What is the role of special schools? Do resource bases work? What is the state of evidence about inclusion? What do our children and young people think? Do we know? How should we plan for, implement, and fund inclusive education? There are many, many more questions to ask on this topic but we think we need to start somewhere!

What do you think?

We are a small, completely unfunded, parent-led organisation. We are not a charity. We are not connected to any charity or organisation. We have no power to decide anything for anyone neither do we have any desire  to silence or exclude. We are trying to create a space to give a voice to our young people's experiences. So, we thought it might be a good idea to set up a meeting to try and kick-start a debate about SEN and equality but we certainly don't want this to be a one-off.

We would really like to involve all those involved in the SEN system who can speak of the realities of practice: kids, parents, people with disabilities (especially those who have recent school experiences), teachers, lawyers, academics and organisations working on the frontline.

In raising this, we are very conscious that there are many different and complex views about inclusion in education. Our aim is to try to pull people together with potentially very different experiences and views and to try and find common ground. Our priority remains those who experience the system.

The event

Irwin Mitchell have very kindly agreed to provide funding for an event in London. We have set the date of 3 February 2015 for the meeting.  They are as follows:

Date: Tuesday 3rd February 2015 at 10.30 to 5pm

Place:  The Arc Centre, 98B St Paul Street, London N1

Nearest tube:Angel (Northern line)

Nearest rail:Essex road

Buses: 38, 73,56, 76, 141, 271,341, 476 (get off at the Packington Street stop on Essex Road near to Islington Green)

Parking: Pay and Display on surrounding streets

You can book FREE tickets event on Eventbrite here.

Online preparation and attendance

We are committed to organising this as openly and inclusively as possible. It is absolutely essential that the voices and experiences of disabled people are heard so please contact us to get involved. We would like to hear from YOU as there is much left to be discussed. We welcome your suggestions, ideas, advice, involvement, offers of help etc.

We intend to set up a blog so people can record their own views and raise issues publicly for discussion. In this way they can still contribute if they are unable to attend (or if they would prefer to contribute in this way).

If there is anything else you think we should be doing to make this project work, please let us know.

Hardship travel fund

Irwin Mitchell has kindly agreed to offer £250 towards travel costs for those who would not otherwise be able to attend.

If you are unwaged, disabled or have would otherwise find it difficult to attend without financial assistance, please contact us now at and we will see if we can help. The funding is extremely limited so a contribution rather than full costs may be offered. Assistance will be offered on a first come, first served basis.