Inclusive Support Team

Inclusive Support Team

March 26, 2019 / blog / Comments (0)

The Inclusive Education Support Team

The Responsibility of the School's Government body

Inclusive in the school is more effective when a member of the governing board is appointed to represent the ‘Inclusiveness Programme’, their appointment adds further credibility to decisions taken in this regard.
This board appointee should be tasked to become a source of knowledge and expert in the field, providing solutions to obstacles as they transition into an inclusive school.
Clear guidelines should be drawn out to set up the strategic direction through a clearly-defined school policy. The policy needs to be enforced on each team making them responsible for reaching their individual goals. They receive the adequate funding and resources to succeed. Enforce the policy across the school to comply with the objectives of KHDA whilst measuring outcomes at set intervals.
As per KHDA’s regulations each school in Dubai is expected to implement the ‘Inclusive Education Policy’ by creating an inclusive support team. The senior leadership team and/or governing body must be actively engage with all necessary parties; teachers, LSA’s, Parents and with the Students of Determination to create a successful inclusive support team.

Who's in the inclusive support team?

To support the School Principal in his or her role in implementing KHDA’s Inclusive Policy there needs to be support from a designated inclusion policy team. The inclusive support team must comprise of at least 3 educationalists with specific roles and experience in Inclusive Education. The team should consist of the Inclusive champion (an advocate of Inclusion), a  leader representing the students and parents and a leader representing the teachers and LSA’s. Each of their roles within the team is uniquely defined but they serve together as a team for a common goal to provide the framework for Inclusive Education to work within their school classrooms for the benefit of students with additional needs.

The Principal’s responsibility

Leadership has to come from the top and it’s the Principal’s role to ensure the vision of KHDA’s Inclusion Policy is adopted and implemented into their school. Their primary role is to facilitate and empower teachers, students and parents to embrace inclusiveness. To do this effectively they have to appreciate the challenges and obstacles and know the strategies and approaches to overcome these issues.
iInclusive Resourcing in the Classroom.

The principals task is to partner with the team to:

  • Endorse the ‘Inclusiveness’ vision all every opportunity among the support team and the wider school community.
  • Carry out an audit on their schools existing inclusive programme to assess areas of weakness that can be improved
  • Draft a comprehensive Inclusive Education Plan to implement across the entire school.
  • Provide the necessary support, funding and expertise to make sure the support team have the tools to succeed.
  • Put in place a bi- annual refresher course/programme for existing and new staff to attend for professional ‘inclusive’ development training.
  • Create a clear measurement timeline, setting goals and monitoring progress along the way.
  • Set-up an inclusion introduction process to all new recruits to emphasis the importance of Inclusiveness in the School.

The Inclusive Champion’s role.

The role of the designated Inclusive ‘Champion’ or advocate should be held by someone capable to promoting the benefits of inclusion across the entire school community. He or she should be an experienced educationalist, with understanding of the value and vision of inclusiveness for students of determination.
  • The role should include:
  • Creating a positive environment to support and promote the policies for the long term.
  • Sharing information and best practices with support team and SLT.
  • Liaising with the school community and listening to their feedback.
  • Endorsing the core values and mission of the inclusion Policy.

The team member representing the students

This team member will have possess a intricate knowledge of the challenges and obstacles facing students of determination. They will also understand the same challenges affecting teachers and the overall impact on learning outcomes.
The role will cover the ability to find solutions to challenges within the Inclusive Framework. They should be supportive to teachers whilst representing the best interests of the students, and offer practical proven approaches to specific cases that help overcome challenges faced by all parties. 
Main areas of expertise include:
Observing, Assessing pin pointing specific educational needs based on their experience.
Liaising with specialists therapists, counsellors, psychologists to support the student and the identified specialist need.
Being an authority on the subject and providing practical advice to teachers and parent based on experience.
Supporting new initiatives and development of learning activities.
Supporting the teachers in ‘lowering the barriers to learning’ by tracking progress of cases.
Introducing new techniques and best practices for intervention for students.

The task of the support teacher

KHDA Education Policy requires schools in Dubai to recruit support teachers to staff the inclusive classroom and the school’s full commitment to Inclusiveness for children of determination. A typical support teacher will possess experience and knowledge of past inclusive school environments and be able to help apply the same approach to the classroom they will be in.
Their primary role is to be a source of knowledge and ‘go to person’ offering specialist help and advice to regular teachers getting used to the learning needs of new students.  The support teacher is expected to spend half their time helping regular teachers and develop their inclusive plans and on a broader level implement inclusiveness into the classrooms.
Inclusive support teachers are also expected to devote a quarter of their time working directly with individuals or small groups to asses student needs, advise on intervention and expedite their progress. Where possible these interventions take place in the school however in exceptional circumstances they are held off-campus. Some cases require a specialist centre’s where external resources such as therapists, Counsellors, and psychologists practice. The balance of a support teachers time is devoted to planning and developing their role within the school to offer the best possible solutions. With anytime remaining they are expected to broaden their knowledge base, keep abreast of international best practices, network with colleagues and industry gurus in the field of Inclusive Education.
The relationship between Support teacher and mainstream teacher has to good in order for positive cooperation to take place with personalised professional development programmes. Each programme needs a tailored approach that varies for every teacher depending on their student’s needs. But good communications are an essential part of the support teachers skills that will help with the exchange of information between all parties involved.

The 7 main aspects of support teachers’ professional skill set are:

Classroom observations of teaching and learning:
A less experienced mainstream teacher will require more support in the early stages. So regular class visits to review the students’ needs will have to be scheduled to check progress and review agreed objectives. As confidence and familiarity builds so to does the working relationship and the purpose of these meetings will become more targeted and tied to goal orientated outcomes.
Part of the task building process is to show examples or models of best practice within the classroom environment. For better results the support teacher can help plan or co-plan with the classroom teacher. The support teacher must demonstrate and model best practices with proven student engagement. Support teachers can also help train LSA’s and offer general guidance on how best to deal with their students.
Organising co-teacher sessions (Classroom and Support teacher) help tailor the inclusive teaching approaches for individual students. The benefits are low ratio (student/Teacher) which allows time for assess different student cases and consider each different strategic approach. Also there is more scope to share experiences, discuss strategies and encourage open discussion between support and classroom teacher.
Joint review of student’s data:
Support teachers are essential to the modeling process of assessing effective data literacy.
A Classroom teacher has to be guided to understand and be able to analyse assessment information so they can tailer their approach and guide their students to reach their potential. The classroom teacher with professional guidance will be able to help identify a student need and overcome any specific obstacles to learning.
A successful teacher who can use formative assessment will enable them to adjust and respond their approach to new student demands and developments when they emerge.
Focused co-planning helps the address the students and teachers requirements for the future. Joint planning is a collaborative efforts that should be regularly set-up and will cover the following 5 areas:
Appropriate teaching strategies;
Early intervention approaches
learning activities
Assessment methods 
Learning outcomes
Properly co-planned meetings improve students engagement levels in the learning process.
Team review:
The Classroom teacher will be mentored and monitored by the support teacher who is tasked to evaluate progress of the teachers methods, assessing impacts on the student’s learning and identify next stages of development. Goals and milestones that are achieved can by recorded and rewarded.
Handing over responsibility:
Support levels can gradually be reduced as the competence and confidence levels of the classroom teacher builds over time. A review session can scheduled for sometime in the futures to assess information retention and introduction of new practices. Those teachers who cope and see the results of their efforts will naturally become advocates for inclusion and be candidates for more development and responsibility.
inclusive support team

The Role of the Classroom teacher

The mainstream classroom teacher’s are expected to flag any sign of learning difficulties with their students. They should be aware of the types of support for Students of determination and give them the same all the opportunities available to keep them progressing with their classroom peers. Their role is to liaise between student, parent and the support staff made available to them (including specialist therapists and LSA’s). They need to embrace the benefits and proven results of inclusive learning and not see it as just a small sideline part of their job.
10 expectations are expected:
• Evaluating, and reporting on students’ progress 
• Ensuring a healthy, safe, happy, environment for learning 
• Liaising and collaborating with other specialists 
• implementing goals set in the IEP (Individual Education Plan),
• Communicating information about students to their parents and other relevant staff 
• Motivating and planning work for the Learning Support Assistants. 
• Encouraging all students to interaction with each other (avoiding isolation with Students of Determination).
• planning whole class, group, and individual 8 
• instructions and delivering them incorporating any needed modi cations and accommodations to maximise their students’ achievement 
• Helping develop the IEP individual Education plan and arrange a review 

The Learning support Teacher (LSA)

Learning support assistants (LSA’s) formerly referred to as shadow teachers hold an important role in the inclusive classroom. As they work directly alongside the classroom teachers they are instrumental in the support they give to students of determination. They are involved with assessment processes, monitoring, recording, lesson-planning and resource development.
The role of the LSA is to support the classroom teacher who is ultimately responsible for the welfare, development and progress of the students. The support given encompasses all areas of teaching covering creation of a classroom environment that helps stimulate and engage students learning. Training should be given for LSA’s to know and understand the approaches to lowering the barriers of learning to raise the engagement level of students so they can advance at the stage rate as their peers in their class of related age.
LSA’s can be deployed into different classroom environments for different student needs. LSA’s are a flexible resource and can be used across either smaller classes sizes or full size groups depending on the schools requirements at the time. Typical areas or roles of LSA’s should cover the following:
• Individual support to a specific student
• Assisting with differentiated activities with groups of students
• Assisting with the liaising with the leader of provision for students of determination
• Assisting with developing social/emotional skills
• Assisting with teachers to monitor the progress of students
• Assisting with intervention or therapy sessions.
An experienced LSA will provide an invaluable source of assistance to both the teacher and student in facilitating the learning strategy to meet it’s outcomes of confident independent learners who are able to contribute and progress at the same stage as their classroom peers.
The LSA’s are working with the classroom teacher to reach a point, when their students become more self dependent in their learning, and can manage better their own emotions and behaviour, when challenging situations occur.

If you are interested to find out more about KHDA inclusion policy or schools in Dubai that run assessment centres, then you can learn by clicking the highlighted links.

For more articles on Inclusion in Schools and inclusion support teams

Inclusion in Dubai Schools

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peter caush

Director The School Agency

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