This article is a practice-oriented guide for subject teachers and class teachers who have come across a child with SEN (special educational needs). It examines the issues of legal regulation of inclusive education, the practical organization of work with a child, as well as complex issues of teacher interaction with other employees of an educational institution and its administration.
The issues of organizing inclusive education within the framework of the existing legal regulation are one of the most complex and confusing. Educational, administrative, budgetary, labor law merge together, giving rise to many contradictions relative to each other. In this article, we will try to explain in simple language the most difficult questions that a teacher may face in the process of organizing an inclusive environment in an educational institution.
Who are children with SEN?
A SEN student is an individual who has disabilities in physical and (or) psychological development, confirmed by the psychological, medical and pedagogical commission and impeding getting an education without creating special conditions.
The concept of “child with special educational needs” is used in modern scientific research and some legislation of foreign countries as a more modern and accurate analogue of a child with disabilities.
Who will decide whether my child has SEN?
The main document that educational institutions should be guided by when working within the framework of inclusion is the conclusion of the psychologist, medicians and teachers. This document determines what conditions must be created at the school in order for the child’s education to meet federal standards. The conclusion of the psychological, medical and pedagogical commission is mandatory for acceptance by any educational institution. The creation of the necessary working conditions is the responsibility of any school.
Who is involved in creating and organizing an inclusive environment?
Inclusive education does not simply mean the inclusion of a child with disabilities in the classroom, with the teacher’s burden of enormous additional responsibility. This is a whole range of measures related to the creation of an inclusive environment, in which a large number of specialists are involved.
- The first group of educational institutions’ employees involved in creating an inclusive environment is the teaching staff. These include subject teachers, elementary teachers and tutors. Their main task is the organization of the actual training sessions, the development of materials and work programs.
- The second group is auxiliary workers. These include primarily assistants. Their task is to provide physical assistance to a child with disabilities in overcoming the difficulties of the environment where he or she learns.
- The third group is specialized workers. These are various teachers and doctors who work with specific skills required in the educational process and health features: psychologists, speech therapists, and defectologists.
Thus, the creation of an inclusive environment in an educational institution does not imply the transfer of all work to one specific teacher. It is also necessary to involve other specialists in the work, who must jointly participate in such a complex process, sharing duties and responsibilities.
What are the limits of the teacher’s responsibility?
The legal basis for the duties of a teacher in the process of organizing inclusive education is the professional standard “Teacher”. It assumes the following duties of the teacher:
- Development of an adapted general education program (together with a teacher-psychologist);
- Development of a work program for the subject, taking into account the individual characteristics of students with disabilities;
- Adaptation of training sessions and extracurricular activities to the needs of a particular child;
- Selection of special adapted teaching aids for classes;
- The use of special technical means (if any in the educational institution) – if necessary.
Thus, the teacher’s area of responsibility includes only the adaptation of their usual activities for the purpose of working with a child with disabilities. This includes not only changing the pedagogical methods but also adjusting the tasks for children. Everything else that the school administration usually tries to do to supplement the standard workload of the teacher does not relate to his or her direct responsibilities.
What should a tutor do?
The tutor is the most important guide of a child with SEN to the world of an inclusive school. He or she bears the main burden associated with the problematic issues of the adaptation of children in regular classes. His/her immediate responsibilities include:
- Identification of individual characteristics, interests, abilities, problems, difficulties of students in the educational process;
- Development of individual educational routes;
- Adaptation of the educational process;
- Designing an open educational environment;
- Development and selection of methodological tools;
- Reflection of the educational process by its participants.
The development of individual educational routes, assistance to teachers in the preparation of classes, participation in the development of specialized methods are the keys to the success of inclusion.
What is the task of the assistant?
Assistants are auxiliary workers, however, they also bear a great responsibility for the adequate inclusion of children with disabilities in the educational process. They are mainly responsible for the functions associated with physical assistance to children. Among other things, their responsibilities include:
- Provision of technical assistance to a child with disabilities (dressing, undressing, using cutlery, etc.);
- Creation of comfortable conditions;
- Maintenance of rehabilitation facilities;
- Providing student access to infrastructure facilities;
- Providing first aid, communication with medical workers and legal representatives in emergency situations;
- Transfer to the student of up-to-date information about the surrounding reality in an accessible form – if necessary.
The list of duties of an assistant testifies that it is not the teacher’s responsibility to physically provide a comfortable stay for a child with disabilities in an educational institution. He or she only has to control and conduct the educational process itself. In turn, the assistant will help the child overcome the physical difficulties associated with learning in a regular school.
What is the role of defectologists?
When organizing an inclusive environment, one should not forget about professional specialized work with childrenwith SEN. It is conducted by specialists of various profiles: psychologists, speech therapists and defectologists. The latter include deaf teachers, typhlopedagogues, oligophrenologists, etc. Their responsibilities include:
- Timely identification of children with disabilities;
- Development of recommendations for correctional support;
- Determining the type of educational program and options for providing corrective assistance;
- Planning lessons, individual and group remedial classes;
- Organization of an educational environment for persons with SEN;
- Organization of control over the development of educational programs.
The activity of these specialists contributes to the adaptation of children in society, develops their social skills, which may have a certain specificity due to the peculiarities of their health. Without these specialists, the progressive effect of inclusive education will be much less noticeable, and the amount of additional effort spent by various workers to support the child’s educational process will remain at the same level throughout the years of study.