Inclusive Education UK, 2021-22
Chris Barnes, Inclusive Education Officer, Down Syndrome International
At Down Syndrome International, we are running a UK-wide research & advocacy project on 'Inclusive Education', its definition and implementation. Our research has identified many frequently asked questions from the various stakeholders within the education hierarchy, plus areas where knowledge can be shared. This information has been collected through a national survey of all stakeholders within the education hierarchy (with over 500 parent responses), plus over 50 interviews of teaching and SEND professionals since September '21. Self-advocates have been involved since the start of this project, namely ambassadors for DSi and the DSA; their views have shaped the direction of the campaign.
Our goals are to broaden the reach of our message and information sharing by collaborating with partner NGOs across the UK. Our marketing plan has been developed in unison with The Down's Syndrome Association and Down's Syndrome Scotland in order to maximise our reach across the UK. This project is acting as a pilot study, ready for emulation internationally. Stakeholder feedback and data are carefully reviewed at every stage and will be assessed against key messages shared over the course of our campaign.
We will be sharing weekly key messages on the subject of Inclusive Education for all learners, including those with Down Syndrome. We will be distributing concise videos answers to FAQs, by professionals and people with lived experiences, including self-advocates. We hope to use these to raise awareness and advocate for long-term system change. We realise that everyone has knowledge and experience in their context and think that sharing this is beneficial to everyone interested in providing, or receiving, a more inclusive education in the UK (and internationally).
Success for this short campaign will be measured qualitatively by the responses, feedback and dialogue entered into with stakeholders, and quantitatively by, e.g., numbers of education sign-ups, likes and follows on our social media platforms and downloads of our advocacy materials and short films.
Developing a functional reading tool with teenagers and adults with Down syndrome
Pauline Frizelle1, Sean O'Donovan1, Lisa Martin2, Nicola Hart2
- Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences, University College Cork, Republic of Ireland
- Down Syndrome Ireland, Dublin, Republic of Ireland
Aims: To develop a valid and reliable tool that can be used to profile functional reading in teenagers and adults with Down syndrome (DS) and to establish if there is a relationship between functional reading and vocabulary, and reading levels as measured by standardised assessments.
Methods: 47 teenagers and adults with DS were recruited and asked to document all items they would typically read. Items were collated in a list with picture supports. Three picture options were prepared for items that were considered more difficult to represent and a subgroup of participants (n=10) were asked to choose their preferred image for each of these items. To establish face and content validity these participants were also asked for feedback on 1) ease of tool completion 2) items included 3) layout and overall appearance. To establish reliability (stage 2), 22 adults with DS who were not in the previous group completed the functional reading tool twice. In addition, parents of this group were invited to complete the tool. Vocabulary and standardised reading assessments were also collected for this cohort to examine potential relationships between performance on the functional reading tool and these measures.
Results: Initial findings are reflected in a comprehensive list of 43 items typically read by adults and teenagers with DS. Participants responded positively to the layout of the tool and to being included in its design. Analysis of the remainder of the data is underway.
Conclusion/Implications: The completion of a valid and reliable functional reading tool will allow us to profile functional reading looks for a large international cohort of teenagers and adults with DS (follow up study). In addition it can be used as a measure to indicate changes in adults functional reading that are not reflected in standardised measures of reading ability.
- This study is about the co-construction of a functional reading tool with adults with Down syndrome.
- 47 adults with Down syndrome told us what they read in a typical week, and a smaller subgroup gave us feedback on how to represent those items in a checklist.
- To make sure the checklist generated consistent responses, 10 adults completed the checklist twice.
- To explore potential relationships between functional reading and reading skills, 22 adults completed the checklist followed by standardised reading and vocabulary tests.
- We plan to make the survey available online so that other researchers can share and gather data in other countries, so that we can find out what functional reading looks like for a large international cohort of adults with Down syndrome.
We hope that the information can be used in a few ways:
- To find out how people with Down syndrome use their reading in everyday life.
- To design courses to target improvement in everyday use of reading.
- To track if someone is using their everyday reading more or less over time.
The Importance of Parent-Teacher Communication
Dr Fidelma Brady EdD; MA[Ed]; B.Ed.; H.Dip [SpEd]; Head of Education - Down Syndrome Ireland
Parental involvement in the education process has long been recognised as crucial to successful learning for children and young people who have learning difficulties. There has been much research conducted in the areas of home/school communication. Two-way, good communication between schools and parents is of vital importance, with an agreed way for parents and teachers to talk about any concerns (DSA & DSS, 2012). Good communication between home and school is essential. Legislative and policy initiatives embrace both the value and the importance of collaboration and the 'crucial contribution of parents to their children's education and parent school relationships' (DENI 1998; DES 2007; Scottish Executive 2005). A number of parents have reported having no involvement in planning with the school for their child's education. They have little or no information communicated to them by the child's teacher, and consider that their efforts to communicate with the school and teachers are met with negativity. To develop information and supports for schools and parents in facilitating appropriate levels of communication in all schools, parental insights were collected at both primary and post primary level. We launched, as a pilot project, a communication information document for both parents and teachers in August 2021. This document is available as a free download on the DSI website and members shared this with their child's school. In addition, templates for a communication journal for both primary and post-primary stages are available as a free download. Template pages can be printed as required and added to a folder /booklet to be used daily by both parents and teachers. This is a pilot project for the 2021-2022 school year and will be reviewed in mid- 2022. If the project has been useful and successful, we will then publish, and have available to purchase, a dedicated, printed communication log for parents and teachers.
- Parental involvement in the education process has long been recognised as crucial to successful learning for children and young people who have learning difficulties.
- Two-way, good communication between schools and parents is of vital importance, with an agreed way for parents and teachers to talk about any concerns (DSA & DSS, 2012).
- Legislative and policy initiatives embrace both the value and the importance of collaboration and the ‘crucial contribution of parents to their children's education and parent school relationships’ (DENI 1998; DES 2007; Scottish Executive 2005).
- A recent survey conducted with primary age and post primary age members highlighted issues relating to communication with teachers and parents in the Republic of Ireland.
- It was clear from our research that some progress has been made in the area of communication. However, findings such as many parents only receiving communication from teachers when there is a problem or an issue, with no information given on academic achievements, indicates that we still have some way to go to ensure the best possible experiences for children and young people with Down syndrome.
- We developed a communication support document for both parents and teachers. This document is available as a free download on the Down Syndrome Ireland website, together with templates for a communication diary for both primary and post-primary stages. Template pages can be printed as required and added to a folder /booklet to be used daily by both parents and teachers.
- This is a pilot project for the 2021-2022 school year. We now hope to publish for September 2022 a dedicated communication/ homework diary for children and students with Down syndrome at primary, post-primary and special schools.
Down Syndrome Ireland Website Link: https://downsyndrome.ie/support-detail/education-professionals/ (Downloads)
- Armstrong, Dr D., Kane, G., O’Sullivan, G. & Kelly, M. 2010, National Survey of Parental Attitudes to and Experiences of Local and National Special Education Services_*, NCSE: Dublin.
- Callison, W.L. 2004, Raising Test Scores Using Parent Involvement, Scarecrow Education, London.
- Department of Education & Science (DES) 2007, Inclusion of Students with Special Educational Needs, Government Publications, Dublin.
- Department of Education Northern Ireland (DENI) 1998, The Code of Practice on the Identification and Assessment of Special Educational Needs, DENI, Bangor.
- Down Syndrome Association (DSA) & & Down Syndrome Scotland (DSS) 2012, Celebrating Success - Examples of School Inclusion for Pupils with Down's Syndrome - Early Years, DSA & DSS, Middlesex Edinburgh.
- Elkins, J., Van Kraayenoord, C. & Jobling, A. 2003, "Parent's Attitudes to Inclusion of their Children with Special Needs", Journal of Research in Special Education Needs, vol. 3, no. 2, pp. 122-129
- Lorenz, S. 1998, Experiences of Inclusion for Children with Down Syndrome in the UK, DSA, London.
- Mariconda, B. 2003 Easy and Effective Ways to Communicate With Parents Scholastic.
- Morrison, F. 2021 Parents’ Experiences with the Inclusion of their Children with Down Syndrome in Mainstream Irish Primary Schools. Doctoral Dissertation edn, Queens University Belfast, Northern Ireland
- Scottish Executive 2005, Exclusions for Schools 2003/2004, Scottish Executive, Edinburgh
Author: Dr Fidelma Brady EdD; MA[Ed]; B.Ed; H.Dip[SpEd]
Head of Education – Down Syndrome Ireland
Contact Details: email@example.com
Developing evidence-based inclusive education guidelines for early intervention and education
- University of Portsmouth, UK
- Down Syndrome Education International
This presentation will discuss the development of evidence-based guidelines for educators in the UK and in the USA. Guidelines were published in the UK in 2012 and, based on these, in the US in 2021. The UK guidelines were produced by a working party bringing a range of expertise to the table, including educators from mainstream and special schools. In the US, Down Syndrome Education International worked with the National Down Syndrome Society. NDSS involved their Inclusive Education Taskforce – again bringing a wide range of expertise to the discussions.
In the UK we offered guidelines for educators working in any setting while also promoting inclusive placements. In the USA guidelines we focussed on inclusive education. While inclusion is promoted for a variety of reasons, our main driver is that the research evidence shows that children with Down syndrome make more progress when fully included in regular classrooms with same age peers.
However, the main evidence base in the Guidelines sets out what research tells us about how having Down syndrome effects the way that children learn and develop – the specific profile of strengths and weaknesses. This research has continued at pace in recent years and has implications for adapting intervention and teaching in any education setting if it is to be optimally effective. We then take these implications and set out the practical implications for therapists and educators. We plan to develop an updated UK version. The presentation will outline a number of questions to be addressed and will welcome views.