Hello, I’m Mark and I was the Young Ambassador for Inclusion for North Lanarkshire.
Our message as young people with support needs is that we want to be heard and we want to have a say in anything that has to do with us. We are the experts in our own needs and we know what works and what doesn’t.
Talking and listening are the key to true inclusion.
How schools can make sure all pupils feel included
Take my school – before I moved up to high school my year head met with my parents and me. We worked out barriers for me in and around the school, spoke with teachers in private to make sure they understood my needs and made a clear plan for every type of situation at school. This might all seem quite a bit of work for one pupil, yet this only took three meetings and it was all made so much easier because of the talking and listening that went on between me and the teacher.
Sadly, some pupils do not have such a good experience as me, which is why the Young Inclusion Ambassadors for Scotland are so important. We are a national group of young people who act as a ‘voice’ for pupils on inclusion. We share our views and experiences with Scottish Government Ministers, local authorities and schools.
Here are three of the Young Ambassadors for Inclusion’s top priorities to make schools more inclusive:
- Social Problems: being excluded at break times and not having enough chances to be included and make friends are big issues.
- Issues with Support staff: For some pupils (but not all), having support staff can sometimes feel like a barrier to their social life, and they might not need them as they get older.
- Awareness: We feel that there isn’t enough done by schools to raise awareness of the issues that pupils face or the reasons they need support. The worst thing schools can do is to pick out a specific pupil – that’s just everyone’s worst nightmare – but what schools can do is to educate the year group that other people have different needs and promote the fact that you are a diverse and inclusive school so it’s great to have all types of pupils.
For me, talking and listening are the key to true inclusion because without this everything you might be doing could be entirely irrelevant to the pupil. After all, how can you include someone who isn’t involved in the conversation?