In of the most important aspect that can

In
this part of the assignment I will be looking at the current legislative
framework for children with disabilities and analyse the approaches needed to
create an early years environment which is fully inclusive for children with
SEN and disabilities. The aspect that I will be mainly focussing on is Autism.
Within this essay there will also be a discussion about the current legislative
framework and policies and current and past legislations that have developed
inclusive practice for children with SEN and disabilities. Inclusion is a
procedure through which schools and local educational authorities develop their
principles, policies and practices to include pupils. By providing the right
training, strategies and support all children with special educational needs
can be positively included in mainstream education. Over the years, people’s
beliefs and attitudes have changed and many people believe that inclusion is
one of the most important aspect that can form and develop a society’s attitude
towards SEN and disabilities and getting rid of any inequalities that exist. (DfES,
2001).

In
the UK today, there is no interrogations over the right of pupil with SEN to be
included within the educational system. However this was not the situation back
in the 1800s. When compulsory schooling began in the late 1800s many children
with disabilities were deemed to be ‘uneducable’ and were denied the right for
education. After one hundred years later before there was any significant
changes The Education Handicapped Children’s Act 1970 was introduced to ensure
that all children with SEN were entitled to education despites their needs or
disabilities. After this act there were many series of acts, legislations and
statutory guidance’s that have been followed up and aim to promote the
inclusion of pupil with SEN in the educational system. This included the
Special Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001 the outcome of this act was
to ensure that there was no discrimination for individuals with disabilities in
their access to education. The Special Educational Needs Code of Practice 2001
was a code that provided a vibrant framework for identifying, assessing and
meeting the needs of the children with SEN. By 2011, the SEN system which was
in place for 10 years was no longer as necessary hence why the new legislation
act was introduced in 2014. The Children and Families Act 2014 expands the
previous system for SEN and covers children and young people with SEN right up
from birth to the age of 25. This act enables children, young people and their
parents to have control over their child’s education and make decisions that
they feel would be essential in meeting the needs of their children. (Packer,
2016, Chapter1).

A
disability is an on-going condition that restricts everyday activity. The main kinds of
disability are physical, sensory, psychiatric, neurological, cognitive, intellectual
and learning. The Disability Service Act 1993 outlines disability as a
sense which results in significantly reduced capacity of the individual for
communication, social
interaction, learning or mobility and a requirement for regular support
services. (What is disability, n.d.). Between
1900 and 1945, many children had a physical disability or sensory impairment,
this was mainly due to poverty and disease. There were no vaccinations, and
many working class families couldn’t afford high-quality equipment or
treatment. Before 1970 many children with SEN and disability were considered
‘ineducable’ now deemed ‘educable’.

In the past children who
are now referred to as SEN were labelled with more offensive terms such as
‘handicapped’ and ‘retarded’. Before 1975 children with SEN or disability were
not always given the option of mainstream schooling this is because mainstream
schooling had obligations to children with disabilities. This is why a big
population of children, especially those with severe disabilities, were kept
out of public schools and even those who did attend were segregated from their
peers that were non-disabled or were educated in hospitals or institutions. Although
it is taken for granted that students with disabilities are allowed to attend
public schools, it was only in 1975 this changed and became law with the
passage of The Education for All Handicapped Children Act 1975. The Education of all
Handicapped Children Act of 1975 was the first legislation to protect the
educational rights of students with disabilities. This act meant that all
mainstream schools that were receiving state funding would need to provide
handicapped children equal admission to education and authorised that they be
located in the least restrictive educational environment. (Moody, 2012). This law was later adjusted
and was known to become the Individuals
with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

In
1944, The Education Act made it the responsibility of the local educational
authority to make a decision on whether a child required special educational treatment.
If a child was considered ineducable then that child became the responsibility
of the Department of Health and Social Services and that child was not eligible
to receive legislative education. Under the 1944 Education Act, children with
special educational needs were characterised by their disabilities in medical
terms. Many children were considered to be uneducable and pupils were labelled
into groups such as maladjusted and given special educational treatment in
separate schools away from children that did not suffer from any forms of SEN
or disability. The Warnock Report in 1978, followed by the 1981 Education Act,
significantly improved the conception of special educational needs. It
introduced the idea of special educational needs (SEN). The report was
published in 1978, which changed the perception of inclusive education. The
term inclusion was becoming recognised into mainstream schools, and children
with SEN were given the right to learn along with other children that were
considered to be ‘normal’. Within the report, the aim of the inclusion for SEN
children in mainstream schools was underlined along with the need for
provisions to be put in place to make this a potential outcome. Warnock claims
that the concept of inclusion, which is also known as the right of each child
to be educated in a mainstream school established a not so well legacy in which
it has resulted in many children being physically included, but emotionally
excluded from a common project of learning. According to Warnock this was
obvious in the cases of children with autism, as well as for children with
needs arising from social disadvantages. (Warnock et al, 2010, p.1).

In recent years, there has
been a lack of awareness from people in mainstream society about the problems and
issues that individual’s with learning difficulties face. For example, an
individual’s disability might mean that they find it hard to adapt social
norms, and therefore they would find it difficult socialising and building
relationships much harder than other people. However,
recently the government has set out stages that they expect local authorities
will take to support people with learning disabilities. Although some
individuals with learning disabilities need extra care, if given that extra
support beside the care, they may be able to find ways to live more
independently and be involved in making choices and decisions for themselves. (Debenham,
2012).

An
act that links in very closely in relation to children with SEN is the
Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA). The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 1995
legislation stated that it is against the law for services and institution
providers to discriminate against disabled people by treating them less
favourably due to their disability. However, The DDA 1995 did not outspread
enough facts in relation to education providers. This is when The Special
Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001 was created to tackle discrimination
and extend the DDA 1995. Under these two acts schools, colleges, universities
and any educational institutions or local education authorities are required to
make reasonable modifications and changes for individuals with a disability as
specified in the DDA 1995. (Debenham, 2012).

Furthermore, there are many
legislations that have supported the development of inclusive practice. The Code
of Practice on the Identification and Assessment of Special Educational Needs
sets out a five-stage framework for meeting the needs of children with SEN. The
first three stages are school-based, with an education plan for the child at
stage two and the institution usually considering for outside support at stage
three. Stage four carries out the relevant local agencies to regulate whether a
child with SEN requires a statement. The fifth stage is when the LEA creates a
statement and arranges, monitors and reviews provision for the child. This is
when the parent has the option to disagree with the decision of LEA about their
child’s SEN, they have the right to appeal to for special educational
institutions. (From Exclusion to Inclusion, 1999).

Since
the late 1970s there has been substantial development in special education.
There has been major changes in thinking about how to provide education for
children with special education needs and disability (SEND). The Warnock Report
(1978) and the Education Act (1981) made ultimate changes in approaches to the
education for children. The Report (1978) changed the terminology of children
being called handicap which was offensive to the term special education needs
which was more appropriate. The Warnock report 1978 was an important milestone
towards inclusive education. This report did not only suggest the concept of
special educational needs but also encouraged the principle that children with
SEN could be educated in mainstream schools or non-special institutions. The
key recommendations of the Warnock Report 1978 included the acknowledgment that
roughly 20% of children will experience some form of special educational needs
at some point in their educational career. The report specified that wherever
it was possible children’s special educational needs should be met in a
mainstream school. There was also a recognition that 2% of children may
experience severe learning difficulties that would require there special needs
to be met in a special needs institution. (Gates and Anderton, 2007, p.138). In
1989, The United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of the child stated the
right of SEN children to be educated in mainstream environments, to achieve
social interaction and individual development. It gave children the right to
provision in their own learning. (Chalmers, 2016, P.37-39)

Inclusion
has been supported positively by schools and the inclusive programme as
children are now benefiting from the learning they are receiving after barriers
have been removed reported by the Ofsted. According to the Ofsted report recent
legislations for developing integrated children’s services, encouraged by the
Every Child Matters programme has started to take a more holistic view of
services for all children. However the report stated that the work was not as
planned to the expected level. However, now there has been many changes that
have been made over the past five years. (Ofsted, 2006).

According
to the Ofsted report The Special Needs and Disability Act 2001 reinforced
parent’s right to seek a mainstream school for their child and maintained their
right to ask for a place in a special school. Furthermore, the Disability
Discrimination Act (DDA) 1995 was extended to cover education, urging schools
to take practical steps to ensure that SEN pupils are not disadvantaged in any
areas of their school lives. The law is intended to support pupils with SEN in
attending a school of their parent’s choice and to promote fair and equal
treatment of those pupils while attending it. (Ofsted, 2006). With reference to
my setting visit which was in a mainstream school, the institution had many new
pupils coming with their parents to see the setting as parents wanted to check
if the setting was right for their child and whether they felt that the setting
would be able to meet the needs of their child before they enrolled them.
Practitioners were showing every department to the parents and they were also
showing them key policies and procedures within their setting which gave
parents reassurance that the setting was fully professional. At the end, the
parents had the choice to decide what was best for their child and the
practitioners settled on what the parents overall decision.

In
my setting visit all practitioners that are working within the institution require
qualifications that are essential for them to be able to work with the
children. All the practitioners are required to have either BA or BSc with QTS,
school-centred initial teachers training or a minimum of Level 3 qualification.
With these qualifications practitioners would have a better understanding and
knowledge of the pupils who require additional need and support within their
setting and ensure that SEN pupils are getting the support that would help with
their learning and also assuring parents that their child would be able to
achieve in their school lives.

An
example of this would be, with reference to my setting visit, as it was
mainstream and special department centre they ensured that all the children
were given a certain  time to play during
the day as well as learning something educational, the same applied to children
in the special department centre who are autistic. The special department
centre had Makaton and PECS which was used throughout the setting, this enabled
the autistic children to communicate with both practitioners and other children
in their setting. PECS was very useful for the children as they had no way of
communicating so they would use the pictures on their card e.g. when they
wanted to eat or play with a particular toy they would communicate with the
practitioner by showing the practitioner the specific card. This enabled
practitioners to be able to interact with the children and they were aware of
how to respond back to the child in a specific way so that the child also got a
reply.

Autism
is a term used since the 1940s to describe a different developmental pattern
that emerges in early childhood. It can have a major impact on how children
learn, interact and behave. Meeting the needs of an individual lies at the
point of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). Every child is worthy of
achieving the best possible in life, and support to fulfil their potentials. It
is essential for all early years’ providers to have an effective policy for
ensuring equality of opportunities and for supporting children with learning
difficulties and disabilities. Environment is a very important factor for a
child with ASD. A well- planned early year’s environment that is based in the
principles and practice of the EYFS will be very effective towards meeting the
needs of a child with autism. (DfE, 2009, p.2-7).

All
early education settings and childcare settings registered with Ofsted are
required to have the Special Educational Needs Code of Practice (DfES,
2001).  One of the requirement is that a
setting should elect one person that would be responsible for controlling
inclusive practice this person would be called a SENCO. The SENCO should be
able to provide ideas for planning appropriate activities that would be
beneficial for children with ASD. Some of the strategies that are required to
be included for a child with ASD is positive relationship. It is essential for
the practitioner to build a positive relationship with the parents once the
child starts to attend the setting. This because the parents are relying on the
practitioner to meet the needs of their child so they would need to be
reassured by the practitioner that their child would be safe and happy. (DfE,
2009, p.2-7).

The
Role of the parent is very important factor for a child with ASD. Having a
child with ASD can be very challenging for parents. However parents can learn
to apply skills to changing their child’s behaviour by the use of effective
teaching methods, support from within the family and the community, and access
to information about ASD. It is vital that information is available to parents
to ensure their active role in advocacy of their child’s education. It is
recommended that parent’s participation should be supported in education
through regular presentation of information by the local school system.
(Educating children with autism, 2001, p.4).

Over
the years there has been many legislative framework that have been put in place
for SEN children. The children’s Act 1981 is still a current legislation that
is very effective it combined together many legislations that related to
children and was based on the idea that children had rights. The Education
Reform Act 1988 is an act that introduced the National Curriculum into all
state schools, including special schools in England and Wales. This act allows
schools to modify the curriculum or even not to use if it was not considered
appropriate. It was a big step as many SEN and disabled children were not
fulfilling their academic potentials. (Tassoni, 2003, P.17). Additional
commitment from the Government towards improving expectations and outcomes for
all children and young people and overcoming the barriers to learning of SEN,
through early intervention and improved partnerships which came through the
Every Child Matters (ECM) and Together from the Start in 2003 and the revised
Child Act 2004. The Disability Discrimination Act defined the duties of
employers and suppliers of goods and services to the public, schools and local
authorities and community education to promote inclusion. Under the guidance of
the EYFS, early years practitioners have to recognise every child as a capable
learner, confident and self- assured and to ensure that each unique child has
the entitlement to fully inclusive practice. (Chalmers, 2016, P.37-39).

In
conclusion by creating a fully inclusive early years setting and environment
for children with SEN and disabilities shows that the individual needs of the
child and their families are being met. There are many legislations that have
been put in place to ensure that SEN children are being treated equally with
regards to education. It is also clear that SEN pupil benefit holistically if inclusive
practice is implemented effectively in mainstream schools. The Warnock Report
(1978) was very effective and impactful in relation to SEN pupil’s education.
The report helped to understand that certain children would need different
educational provisions to be made for them in order to achieve inclusion. The
government has put many legislations in place in order to provide children with
SEN and disabilities with the best possible services available e.g. the EYFS
which has a very essential impact on the learning techniques for children. An Inclusive setting will give all children a chance to perceive
the differences and be aware of and accept diversity. Inclusion in settings can
benefit the communication skills and sense of agreement among pupils with and
without disabilities. Although
many settings are not yet fully inclusive by having the drive to achieve it is
a positive factor which can enhance a child’s holistic development.