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Inclusive and Supportive Education Conference (ISEC) 2021

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ISEC 2021 Presenters

To provide delegates with a flavour of the range and diversity of the presentations that will be taking place at ISEC 2021 London, a sample of presenters' abstracts and biographies will appear here.

Dr. Beth Oluka

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Improving Inclusive Education Through Engagement With Inclusive Pedagogy in Nigerian Elementary Schools

Conference theme: Innovative Practices

Abstract: Inclusive education has been internationally recognized as a philosophy for attaining equity, justice and quality education for all children, especially those who have been traditionally excluded from mainstream education for reasons of disability, ethnicity, gender or other characteristics. While inclusive education has been implemented successfully in developed countries, developing countries, especially Nigeria, are still in the process of achieving this goal. Inclusive education has been met with several challenges that have created the knowledge and practice gap that necessitate the need for a focus on inclusive pedagogy. This study explores how Nigerian elementary school teachers can help to improve inclusive education through engagement with inclusive pedagogy to meet the needs of students with special educational needs. The study adopts a qualitative research approach as 43 elementary school teachers with over 10 years of teaching experience were interviewed to provide substantial information about the subject of study. Thematic analysis was employed to analyze data collected. Findings show that improving teacher attitudes to teaching students with special needs, teacher effectiveness and practice among others can improve inclusive education, and meet the needs of students with special educational needs in Nigerian elementary school.

Dr. Beth N. Oluka is a Lecturer in the Department of Educational Foundations (Special Education), Faculty of Education, Ebonyi State University, Abakaliki.

Jia White

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Parents’ Perspectives on Adopting a Strength-based Approach for High School Students on the Autism Spectrum

Conference theme: Parents as Partners

Abstract: There is emerging evidence of the usefulness of leveraging the strengths and interests of students on the autism spectrum. However, a lack of parental perspectives on the implementation of a strength-based approach within mainstream high schools is evident in research. Hence, this study aimed to identify the perceived success factors of a strength-based approach in high schools from the perspectives of parents. Method: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with parents (N=21) of adolescents on the autism spectrum who are either in high school or have left high-school within the last five years. Results: Through thematic analysis, four themes were revealed reflecting parents’ viewpoints of the factors of successful strength-based practice. 1) An ongoing process is important to find meaningful and engaging ways of learning and development for adolescents. 2) Planning and designing activities and programs based on their strengths and interests motivates adolescents at school and prepares their transition for adulthood. 3) Allowing adolescents to utilise their strengths and interests to be involved with and give back to others develops positive relationships with peers and teachers. 4) A whole school approach, involvement with parents and better use of resources ensure the success of a strength-based practice. Conclusions: The results confirm that parental involvement is a prerequisite for adopting a strength-based approach for students on the autism spectrum in high schools. Continuous communication with adolescents ensures the success of this approach. These results will assist in the development of strength-based guidelines for high school teachers of students on the autism spectrum.  

Jia White is currently a PhD candidate and sessional academic at the School of Education, Curtin University, Australia.

Professor Fabian van Essen

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Qualification for People with Intellectual Disabilities to Work as University Lecturers

Conference theme: Lifelong Inclusion

Abstract: Most of the people with intellectual disabilities in Germany learn, work and live in special institutions. This leads to social segregation and strong limitations for living a self-determined life. The projects Inclusive Education tackles this in a disruptive way: Worldwide unique, people with intellectual disabilities are qualified in a full-time qualification over three years to be lecturers at universities. After the qualification, the then so called educational specialists change from working in sheltered workshops to fully paid jobs on the regular labour market. The qualification consists of four modules on background information about the education system, participation, inclusion and methods, tools and techniques of educational work. In two practical modules the participants gain experiences in teaching in different universities. The first study on the project explored whether the attitudes towards inclusive education of teacher training students have changed after participating in a seminar run by lecturers with intellectual disabilities (Mau, Diehl & Groß 2017).  31 people with intellectual disability currently participate in four different regions of Germany at full-time qualifications. 5 people with intellectual disabilities finished their qualification successfully and work fully paid as educational specialists in universities. The project seems to benefit the people with intellectual disabilities (jobs on the first labour market, personal development), the students (expertise and competence in the context of inclusion, disability awareness) and the universities (organizational development towards inclusion). The project will be explained and its transferability to the UK discussed. 

Fabian van Essen is a Professor of Special Education at the German IUBH International University of Applied Sciences, Visiting Professor at London Southbank University and Head of Innovation of the Institute of Inclusive Education in Kiel, Germany.

Gail Van Schalkwyk

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How Academic Research Enabled a Maths Hub to Positively and Effectively Assess and Plan for Children With Maths SEN

Conference theme: Knowledge Exchange

Abstract: Teachers grapple with an increasingly wide range of attainment levels in Maths by the end of key stage 2, with some children working consistently far below age-related expectations as a result of dyscalculia and other maths learning difficulties (MLD). I have produced a skills based developmental scheme, matched to a concept development model and linked to the national curriculum programme of study which has helped teachers, particularly in lower key stage 2, to quickly identify weak areas of conceptual development and precisely target teaching and learning to aide mastery and enable progress. The scheme has now been extended to include the early years, to assist in the early identification of learners who may have dyscalculia / MLD. This scheme also assists in measuring the impact of the teaching and ensures a graduated response for this group of learners as per the SEN Code of Practice. The process of creating and trialling the scheme demonstrates how my post-graduate learning at Manchester Metropolitan University has been utilised to collaboratively tackle an SEN issue faced by school Maths leaders today, and how knowledge transfer at a local level, through a Maths Hub partnership can make a difference for learners, parents, teachers and school leaders.  

Gail Van Schalkwyk is currently working as a specialist SEN Maths teacher and artist in Northumberland. 

Feliciea Jibson

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Ensuring Learner Success  Through Targeted Collaboration and Progress Monitoring – PAGS® (Profile Assessment and Goal Setting)

Conference theme: Innovative Practices

Abstract: PAGS® assesses the skills individuals need in order to be able to navigate their way through education, work and life. These skills underpin academic learning and without them, individuals struggle in the classroom, making the attainment of qualifications unnecessarily out of reach of many of our students. PAGS® supports users to develop these necessary skills in individuals. Learners may not show a developmental pattern in the acquisition of skills therefore significant gaps in the attainment of the individual can be missed, assuming that a certain level of performance was automatically credited from early skills. PAGS® is developed to work alongside any academic curriculum. PAGS® has been trialled in schools and colleges, specialist school for children with autism and also with selected individuals. The PAGS® questionnaires were completed by a teacher or by an adult who is familiar with the learner or by the learner. The results from the questionnaires were collated and provided in the form of a table, showing the strengths of the individual as well as their developmental needs. In doing this, the table shows areas that the learner would benefit from targeting in a developmental order. It has been developed to assist teachers in producing coherent, well-documented strategies and plans that consider the developmental stage of the learners. Expected outcome: We expect learners will increase their overall score (four areas) with 10-15% in 12 months, depending on diagnosis and additional learning difficulties or/medical conditions. 

Feliciea Jibson is Founder of Felser Limited. She is member of Society of Education Consultants UK, qualified Teacher with years of experience in teaching autistic children in schools, residential settings, and working directly with parents, carers and families.

Dr. Danielle Lane

Facilitating an Ethos of Inclusion in a Special School: A Social Justice Perspective

Conference theme: Inclusion as Social Justice 

Abstract: Across the globe, understandings of inclusion are dynamic and developing (Sikes, Lawson, and Parker, 2007). As such, a single perspective of inclusion is rarely present across a country or a single school (Ainscow & Miles, 2008). Further, understandings of inclusion may vary across contexts (Miles & Singal, 2010). While understandings of inclusion have developed throughout history and vary from country to country and even school to school, it is clear inclusion has been and remains a social justice issue. So much so, that UNESCO’s Sustainable Development Goal 4 calls for countries, states, districts, and schools to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all” (UNESCO, 2017, p.12).  This presentation will charge participants to challenge preconceived notions and understandings regarding inclusion and school settings. Participants will explore how one Multi Academy Trust in England understands inclusion in a special school setting. The Trust’s model serves as one potential example of how to re-conceptualize inclusion through a social justice lens of equity and equality for all. Participants will explore how members of the leadership team at the Trust define inclusion through a social justice lens and how that understanding transcends through the Trust. Participants will be introduced to key components of the Trust’s structure, operations, and resources that support their efforts to facilitate inclusion in a special school.  

Dr. Danielle Lane is an Assistant Professor of Education at Elon University in North Carolina. Her research focuses on global understandings of autism spectrum disorder in various cultural contexts. 

Ifigeneia Manitsa

Providing Social Support for Students with Visual Impairments in Educational Settings: Findings from an Integrative Literature Review

Conference theme: Knowledge Exchange

Students with visual impairments present with more emotional difficulties and face more challenges in developing and maintaining social relationships compared to their sighted peers. Research evidence shows that the social support provided to these students by staff members and their peers in educational institutions (universities and schools) may have a positive impact on their academic inclusion and socioemotional development. Social support refers to the prosocial behaviours that students with visual impairments receive from their family and school environment with the aim of increasing their social functioning and interactions. The purpose of this integrative literature review was to combine the results of 17 academic articles published between 1998 and 2018 which examined the social support that individuals with visual impairments receive in mainstream and special educational institutions around the world. The findings of this review revealed the positive impact of the social support provided by teachers, staff members, and peers on students’ academic learning, social acceptance and self-esteem as well as the positive effects of the educational interventions that have been conducted in inclusive educational settings. However, even though the majority of studies have been conducted in inclusive educational settings (universities, mainstream, inclusive and integrated schools), the social support that students with visual impairments received was insufficient, which was mainly due to the lack of teachers’ training and peers’ awareness. The findings of the study highlight the need to enhance the provision of social support and to promote the implementation of educational interventions including both students with and without visual impairments.

Ifigeneia Manitsa is a PhD researcher, laboratory tutor in Psychology Research Methods and guest lecturer in the MSc Child Psychology at Kingston University London. 

Dr. Rachel Mallia Borg

Dr Rachel Mallia Borg

Visual Support Systems: A Qualitative Evaluation of the Support Provided to Parents of Children with Autism

Conference theme: Parents as Partners

Since the 1990s, parent-professional partnership working has seen a shift from a professionally driven model, where professionals had a power-over relationship with parents, to an empowerment model, which allows power to be created and developed through relationships. This move has enabled families of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) to have their priorities attended to when planning goals and intervention around Visual Support Systems (VSSs). However, there is debate as to whether a collective empowerment model of service delivery is being used effectively when planning and implementing goals around VSSs. There is also lack of information on the perceived benefits of using VSSs with children with ASD. This study aimed to explore the parental perspective and negotiation of responsibility with professionals when planning goals and service provision around VSSs and to elicit parents’ views on the changes they perceived in their children and their own abilities following the support received. Adopting a qualitative, case study methodological strategy, a total of ten participants participated in either a focus group or semi-structured interview. Thematic analysis was used to analyse data. Three major themes emerged from the data: parent-professional partnership, perceived changes in abilities and skills, and experiences of using VSSs. Sub-themes are also presented, including shared planning and decision-making, enablers and barriers of using VSSs, and professionals’ qualities. Implications for practice suggest: the need for regular discussions with parents in relation to VSSs; further examination of service delivery; the need for professionals to draw on parent-professional partnership literature; the implementation of strategies to encourage parental engagement and prevent possible barriers.  

Dr. Rachel Mallia Borg is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Childhood and Education Sciences, Canterbury Christ Church University. 

Clare Martin

Inclusion and Visual Impairment: The Impact of the Inclusion of VI Pupils on the Teaching and Learning of Others

Conference theme: Innovative Practices

Over the past decade the inclusion debate has centred on the accommodation of specific special educational needs (SEN) and managing the political agenda without inclusion being detrimental to standards. The vast majority of studies have investigated the impact of inclusive practices on SEN pupils. This research examines the impact of the inclusion of visually impaired pupils (VIP) on the teaching and learning of others. My literature searches have yet to find research that has investigated this. The research will contribute to the debate on the desirability and effectiveness of inclusive policies concerned with benefits for pupils and improving contexts and capacities of staff. Visual impairment (VI) is a low-incidence SEN, often under-reported in educational data. Therefore, school and teacher experience can be minimal, yet greater awareness of VI desirable. Evaluating the efficacy and ease or difficulty of generalising effective practice for VIPs may help to inform placement decisions of VIPs specifically and contribute to a setting’s ability to respond more effectively to all learners.  The research comprises comparative case studies, using surveys, interviews and classroom observations to examine the extent of any changes of philosophy in teachers and factors that bring about or hinder effective classroom practice and outcomes for pupils, teachers and support staff. The presentation will report empirical findings, illustrated examples drawn from teachers’ practice, that will form the heart of my doctoral thesis (estimated completion date December 2020).

Clare Martin currently combines doctoral research at the University of Reading with a teaching role in a secondary special school and sessional university lecturing on special needs and inclusion.