Conference on Inclusive Education

– From 10 to 12 November 2017 EDSA members met in Dublin for their annual assembly. Part of the program was a conference on Inclusive Education. Pat Clarke had organized this conference, which took place in the premises of Down Syndrome Ireland.

The day was opened by Mr. Finian McGrath, Minster of State with responsibility for Disability issues, who is also has a daughter with Down Syndrome.

It was a very informative day starting with an overview of school inclusion in Europe by Anna Contardi. The data came from a survey EDSA recently carried out among its members. In total 21 questionnaires were answered by 19 countries. (the questionnaire from Denmark came too late, to be included in the results). Main conclusions were:

  • We go towards school inclusion, but the experience of special schools is still very strong (in 86% of the countries there is still the dual channel)
  • Most children with SD are in mainstreaming schools, but in 66.6% of the countries they spend at least part of the day out of the classroom
  • Support teacher is the most used form of support
  • There is still much to do!
    The presentation can be found here.

In two very interesting lectures Rebecca Baxter, who is a consultant of Down Syndrome Education in the UK shows the benefits of inclusion in education, what the main keys to success are and what the strategies are for accessing the curriculum and the implementation of inclusion in the classroom.
We have learned a lot from her lectures. If people are still not sure that inclusion is the best way for our children with DS, you nearly must be after having listened to Rebecca.

It was very nice to listen to the story of Patricia Griffin and her son Canthal Griffin. They gave an overview of Canthal’s way through life, from early intervention to actually holding a regular job on the first market. The program Latch-On about further education for young adults after having left school, was especially interesting for all participants.

Fidelma Brady, Education Officer of Down Syndrome Ireland presented the new Irish model of allocating supports to children with special educational needs with specific reference to children with Down syndrome. She focused on the allocation of teaching resources for pupils, special needs assistants and current speech & language therapy initiative.

The last contribution was prepared by Prof. Juan Perera, from the association Asnimo on Mallorca. Unfortunately Juan, who is also a founder of EDSA could not be with us in Dublin, but his son Juan Perera junior came instead, showed us the presentation, while Pat read the english translation. This presentation looked in the specifies and recent research in Down Syndrome and how this knowledge is an important criterion for quality education of the pupils with DS.

All presentations are on the EDSA website in the restricted area for members.