Inclusive Education at Cornwall Park District School
Inclusive Education is definitely a term we are hearing a lot about in education recently. However, rather than being a catch phrase or an on-trend term it is an extremely important belief that we feel CPDS has always had at the core of our values. Many people think of cultural diversity when the word inclusiveness is mentioned. In education terms it is much more.
The principles that underpin the New Zealand Curriculum (pg9) state that…
“The curriculum is non-sexist, non-racist, and non-discriminatory; it ensures that student’s identities, languages, abilities, and talents are recognised and affirmed and that their learning needs are addressed.”
Therefore when we use the word inclusive at CPDS it includes gender, ethnicity, culture, special needs and abilities, and behaviour. One of the ongoing strategic aims that CPDS has is to ensure all students are able to access the NZ Curriculum. For most children the general programmes they receive in class allows them to do this; however, for some of our children we have to identify and then work hard to remove or minimise any barriers that are preventing them to access the ‘NZ Curriculum’ effectively. For some that may be that they need extra help accessing the classroom and facilities e.g. if they are on crutches or a wheelchair. For others it may be providing the extra support they need to settle to work or to stay focused. Others may need adaptations to the classwork to ensure they can be successful, while ensuring the more capable children are constantly being challenged.
There are many ways that we do this at CPDS. Some of this support is offered on a one to one basis, while other support caters for small group intervention outside the classroom.
Learning Support 2013
It is important that I have an overview of how children are progressing throughout the school. Therefore, as Principal, I regularly track all achievement and progress against all National Standard areas of Reading, Writing and Mathematics as we move through each year. Dawn Wood, in her role as SENco (Special Education Needs Co-ordinator) also works with this data to coordinate the extra support and additional programmes we are able to offer within the budget available and personnel we have on staff, as well as sourcing any appropriate external support and or funding available to us.
As most of you are already aware we have been working on a Writing contract since 2011. Writing was an area that teachers felt we could improve our practice in, in order to achieve better results and maintain more consistency in levelling as students moved through the school. The Board committed sizable funds to support this initiative and the results have been positive. However, at the end of last year the school saw that a sizable group of boys across the school were not achieving as high as we would have liked. Because of this we decided to target this group for special attention in order to improve the academic outcomes for these children. Alicia Whata works with these teachers to identify what specific next steps are necessary to progress their learning. We have also employed Elmarie Smart who is a trained teacher to work with a number of these children in small groups to boost their progress in Writing.
Focus on Priority Learners
The Government has a goal to decrease the achievement tail that exists in this country. For years it has been widely reported that the level of achievement of Maori and Pasfika students is not good enough in New Zealand and due to this, these two groups have been labelled as priority learners across all New Zealand schools. At CPDS we are very proud of the achievement of our priority learners; however, we are committed to raising the achievement of these students (as we are with all our students) who are not meeting expectation.
Various children require support at different times to help them access the curriculum as well as ensuring they are not preventing their classmates from doing so as well. As a school we are constantly trying to manage the needs of all our students and focus on being inclusive and accepting of all children (that does not mean we accept unacceptable behaviour and we are proud of how well children do in our school the longer they are here). However, schools are a reflection of society and children come into our school with a wide range of different needs and personalities. It is important to remember that legally all children who are NZ residents and or citizens, are entitled to attend school regardless of the special needs and abilities they may have.
Reporting to the Board of Trustees
Throughout each year the school reports against achievement in different areas to the Board. These reports highlight the successes and the areas we want to continue to make improvements in. We indicate different initiatives and programmes being implemented and the value added we are providing to our students. These reports are available to the public one month after they are presented to the Board. Please feel free to come along to the office and ask if there are any new reports on achievement if you wish to find out more about how our school is doing in different areas. A member of the senior leadership team will be happy to answer any questions you may have.
Staff Philosophy on Inclusion
The staff recently worked on a phrase that they felt summed up the school’s philosophy on ‘Inclusiveness”. After much unpacking of Ministry documents as well as exploring and discussing our own extensive experiences and beliefs, the following statements were formulated.
At CPDS inclusive education is about the full participation and achievement of all learners.
· Being present
At CPDS we are proud to adapt to the child needs …to allow them to access the curriculum.
At CPDS we educate for diversity of people, ideas and knowledge. It is a place where we
· Acknowledge diversity
· Are proud of our difference
· Understand we are all different
· Respect each other
· Teach acceptance
· Engage and connect with others with different world views.
So in conclusion we are working hard to ensure we are welcoming to all and work together to provide the very best opportunities for our children. We need and want parents to be active partners with the school as we continue to ensure our practice continues to match our rhetoric.
I am happy to discuss any of the above at any time, and as a school we would like to have any suggestions that may help us become ‘better than before’.