THE INCLUSION AMBASSADORS
GUIDE to LANGUAGE AND COMMUNICATION
The Inclusion Ambassadors made a guide about how pupils with additional support needs want people to speak to them and why it’s so important.
Why is using the right language important?
The Inclusion Ambassadors think that good communication is important.
A big part of this is using the right language to show understanding and respect. This can help people feel more involved, improve understanding and improve learning.
They think people should take the time to understand young people with additional support needs as individuals. This would then help everyone understand more about how people want to be communicated with differently.
One Ambassador shared how standing with their arms crossed helps them feel less nervous but that they can be seen as “standoffish” and “rude”. As they put it, young people are “not being rude on purpose, expression is different for everyone”.
What can happen if communication goes wrong?
Using the wrong language and communication in school can make learning harder.
It can also make disagreements seem worse and make school less enjoyable.
Language and communication in school is used by everyone, but the Inclusion Ambassadors have focused on helping adults that work in schools think about how they should communicate. The thought that creating a list of ‘do’s and don’ts’ would be a useful thing for adults in schools.
Some of the things the Inclusion Ambassadors think adults in school should do include:
“Taking the time to find out how pupils with additional support needs want to be communicated with. This could mean finding different ways of explaining things or using visual aids for example.”
“Asking what support pupils need to be happy at school. This can help pupils feel more included and open to talking about what they need.”
“One teacher said to me when they knew I was finding things hard, ‘What would make your life here easier?’. That made me feel seen and understood.”
“Speaking to all pupils with respect.”
Some of the things the Inclusion Ambassadors say shouldn’t happen:
School staff shouldn’t shout or be argumentative.
Shouting shouldn’t happen by anyone – neither at staff or pupils.
“Shouting makes people not want to listen, they shut down and phase out.”
Passive aggressive remarks.
Not explaining why a pupil is being punished.
Not giving a chance for a conversation – it doesn’t help solve anything.
Singling pupils out, which can make pupils feel uncomfortable and anxious.
“It annoys me when people look at someone with a disability and judge them – you need to look past this.”
Being disrespectful or rude about someone’s experiences – including being dismissive of someone who is struggling or might need additional help to understand.
Asking rude or intrusive questions like, ‘What’s wrong with you?’. Being curious is fine, but questions should be asked with respect.
“People asked me, ‘Why aren’t you walking?’. They should ask me if I don’t mind talking about it rather than launching into a question.”
These ideas from the Inclusion Ambassadors are just some of the ways they think schools can be more inclusive.
Talking and communicating to all pupils in a kind a respectful way can help make everyone feel more comfortable to ask questions, feel more included and have a better time at school.
You can read the Inclusion Ambassadors’ guide on language and communication in full on the Children in Scotland website.