Inclusive Schools Role Model Zoe Heatherington

Hi, my name is Zoe Heatherington and I'm a primary school teacher at Millennium Integrated Primary School. It is a school just outside Belfast in Northern Ireland. It is integrated because it combines both the Protestant religion and the Catholic religion, which for many years ago, when it started was quite forward thinking. We are integrated obviously in our religions but we're also integrated in various different needs and abilities of the children that attend the school. So we are a school of a very strong ethos on inclusion, and within each of the classes, we have children of many, many different abilities.

So we have... obviously very different needs and abilities. We have children that have gone through the school that have had visual impairments, hearing impairments, some behavioural issues, moderate learning difficulties, dyslexia, Asperger's, autism, Down syndrome... A variety of special needs. We do not have in our catchment area very many English as a second language, students. But we have had those in the past as well. At the moment in my class, we have, children with very, very different needs. We have a very high achievers, which we try and push and challenge as much as we can, so that they can reach their full potential. We also just have our, you know, normal average kind of learners. And then we have those who are a bit lower in the in the ability level and a bit higher need. So we have to do a lot of differentiated in the class to make sure that each of the children are reaching their targets and making success, while also meeting their own successes, which obviously can be different amongst the children, that obviously means differentiated work. It might be differentiated in terms of the actual paperwork, they're getting. Or it might be differentiated in the support that they're getting either from myself or one of the learning support or sometimes even peer help

At the moment. I have two assistants: one is learning support assistant adults in the classroom. One of them is looking after a child who is visually impaired and she's they're really just to help them access the curriculum in terms of what he is not able to see. The other one is there to support a child with autism. So, she has a different set of needs which may include Brain Breaks, walking around the classroom, going to sensory room, having a fiddle toy and other tactile things. A lot of the children with lower needs need a lot of their activities to be to be supported with practical materials. So maybe in a math lesson, some of them are working on mental maths or they may have practical material so cubes and 100 squares to help them out. We have also a support teacher who takes some of the children to do extra work with them.

But that integrates back into the class to ensure that they're still making success. I find inclusion is really important for both the children that are of that need that they're accessing the curriculum with their peers. And also for the other children in the class, they are learning that we're all the same. Even if we have different needs... things, that were good at things we find challenging. We're all the same, we're all working together, the developing empathy, and they're developing and understanding. And I think inclusion works really well. And we've proven that in our school for many, many years with loads of different abilities and needs. So, thank you very much.

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