Fritidspedagogik.se har genom skribenten Farzin Panahi kommit i kontakt med en skola/fritidshem/förskola i Danmark vid namn Eltang-Skole. Under en intensivutbildning i specialpedagogik besökte Farzin denna verksamhet och imponerades över hur väl samarbetet mellan fritidspedagoger, eller social teachers som skribenterna valt att kalla dem, och lärare fungerade och hur detta samarbete lett till att verksamheten lyckats med att arbeta med inklusion. Vi har bett skoledaren och biträdande rektorn att skriva om denna verksamhet och är glada att få publicera deras text på fritidspedagogik.se.
Eltang School and Nursery School, Denmark is a combination of a primary school and a nursery school which means that we have children and pupils from three to thirteen years old. Eltang School and Nursery School is situated in a rural area in the southern part of Jutland eighty km from the German border. In the Nursery school there are about thirty children and in the school we have about one hundred pupils. We have included several pupils with ADHD and autism and the school has 7 social teachers connected to the school.
Among other values we focus on academic skills, confidence and well-being, openness, a close parent-school relation, learning styles and healthy lifestyle. Our school is an eco-school and has recently got the fourth green flag. Beside the green profile we are very interested in internationalization and have been collaborating with Nordic and European schools within the last ten years.
It has become very essential to make clear who takes care of what concerning the included child. The process ended up by making a clear agreement, actually a kind of contract where it is clarified what role a social teacher has. For instance is it the social teacher´s job to facilitate social life, support academic work, observe and write documentation, collaborate with parents and communicate with specialists about the child.
Throughout the last decade we have developed a school geared to meet the needs of pupils with diagnoses. Our first challenge was a boy with Asperger’s syndrome and now about 20% of our pupils with various special needs are integrated in our school. You can meet pupils with diabetes, hearing problems, ADHD, Asperger´s and autism in our class rooms together with mainstream pupils.
How can both mainstream pupils and pupils with severe challenges benefit from that way of organizing? The answer is well trained social teachers and a close collaboration among social teachers and teachers with academic competencies from college. In every lesson in every class room you will find one social teacher and one teacher with academic competency. This favorable situation has become a result of economical support from the local school authority, a need to find a place for local children with special needs and a continuous and persistent work at the school to find the best way of inclusion.
How do we understand the idea of inclusion?
We share the attitude to inclusion with the Salamanca declaration, 1994 which emphasizes that all children have a right to get an education in mainstream schools and that the schools have to be able to meet the children´s needs by using a child-centered pedagogy. In other words – there has to be room for every individual and accept of differences. All children have potentials, abilities and a need to be part of a community.
It is our experience that these ideas cannot be practiced in real school life without extra financial grant, appropriate possibilities for various learning environments,
dialogue and collaboration among all partners in school life – a process that might take some time to build up and has to be dynamic as questions and challenges will turn up frequently.
A repeated challenge at our school is the balance between the number of mainstream pupils and pupils with special needs in the class rooms. The overall objective is that the inclusion has to be a success for the child involved and the class. All pupils have to benefit from it one way or the other. This means that we constantly have to be aware of what happens in the class rooms and are willing to question ourselves and our own practice. We also now and again have to define a kind of limit of inclusion. Our members of staff are for instance not trained in dealing with physically handicapped children and children who are talented below normal and this means that these children are not included in our school and nursery school at the moment.
How do we include?
The collaboration of four partners in school is very essential in order to secure success.
Inclusion is continuously part of the agenda. The principal is often contacted by the local psychological authority about possibilities of including a child with special needs.
In every case it is important to consider thoroughly what action is preferable taking both the child and the class in mind.
The principal initiates dialogues among the partners and establishes meetings and courses to develop knowledge and skills among staff. Additionally the principal participates in internal and external meetings concerning children with special needs. In organizing the school the management team facilitates initiatives contributing to our way of inclusion.
In Eltang School and Nursery School the staff has been accustomed to working with children with special needs for about a decade. It has taken some time to reach the level of teamwork that we have now. Members of staff, social teachers and teachers have over a period been working on role expectations in the classroom. It has become very essential to make clear who takes care of what concerning the included child. The process ended up by making a clear agreement, actually a kind of contract where it is clarified what role a social teacher has. For instance is it the social teacher´s job to facilitate social life, support academic work, observe and write documentation, collaborate with parents and communicate with specialists about the child. Our social teachers are acquainted with a lot of technical equipment which can support the child´s development.
Principal and staff are important when creating a meaningful framework for inclusion. They have to be open minded and clear about attitude to inclusion and also expect openness from the parents from the very first meeting and the very first parents meeting. It makes so many things easier for the other parents in the class if everybody know that a child has extra challenges in life.
In every class a team of parents arrange events for all the pupils in order to improve social life in the class and the school board organizes a social evening a year where parents and pupils meet, play and spend some enjoyable hours together.
In Nursery School and in classes teachers and social teachers work determinedly on openness among the children. All the children learn that children are not all alike and that they feel and act in various ways. The social teacher supports a child in telling about feelings and actions from a very early age so that the other children in class get a basis for understanding situations in their every day life.
We have been lucky to have had the change of creating our own way of inclusion. Eltang School and Nursery School is not a typical Danish model. It is a special model created long before the word inclusion started to be a word used by politicians. That has given us advantages and possibilities to create an including organization based on both development and stability.
Karin Eriksen – Viceinspektør
Per Nielsen – Skoleinspektør