In an inclusive society, those who face challenges to learning should be involved in the community and indeed have a right to such involvement, just the same as each and every one of us. Indeed, we all face barriers of some kind or another as we tread our paths through life. For most of us, schooling, was our first experience of the outside world, away from the shelter of home and parents. Our road through education, from early learning, through primary and secondary school and perhaps on to college, may take fifteen formative years. During that time, pupils will be served by a range of teachers who will, between them, bring a wealth of skills, ideas, experience and motivation.
In mainstream learning, every teacher will meet learners who have barriers to learning, seemingly permanent barriers that may be due to a disability, temporary barriers that may be caused by circumstances affecting the learner, personality barriers due to the learner (or the teacher) not being comfortable in their learning relationship, or there may be curriculum specific barriers to learning that relate to an individual subject such as maths, or spelling, or dates from history, or indeed any part of the curriculum. How much training have teachers received to help them address such problems? In most cases, very little! Would they welcome some friendly support and useful CPD opportunities? Well, certainly some would!
Then there are the special education schools and departments where we find a lot of dedication to the needs of learners who may have more severe barriers to learning. Most of their pupils or students will have EHC Plans, that’s Education, Health and Care plans, the clue is in the name. In these schools and college departments we find much expertise, great empathy with the learners, a greater level of support. This is an area of education where practitioners are frequently in contact with carers and others support staff to provide a more inclusive and rounded learning experience appropriate to the individual learner’s needs and abilities. These practitioners share much the same interests and concerns that prompted health and care members to join our Community of Practice, they have knowledge and experience to contribute and they are usually very open to enhance their own skills and good practice.
Thirdly, there are specialist teachers, lecturers, trainers and mentors, the people who teach the nurses, or teach the carers, or teach the teachers. In a more inclusive society, there is a growing need for professional skills in education to include support for those who have learning difficulties, just as there is for those whose career path is in health or caring professions.
Our Community of Practice has as much to give to education professionals, and as much to receive from them, as it does for and from professionals in health and care services. To achieve a joined up, fully integrated service to meet the needs of children and adults who have learning difficulties, Care, Health and Education professions are increasingly working together, our Community of Practice can help bring these professionals together for the inevitable benefit for the people that we all endeavour to Serve.
So, let’s open our Community to Teachers, Lecturers, SENCOs, Early Years Practitioners, Independent Specialist Trainers, and Learning Support Practitioners and encourage them to join us – with so many possible benefits for us all.
22nd June 2018