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Inspection and Advisory Service (HIAS)

Icknield Specialist School for cognition and learning

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Right Respecting Schools and the Shared Advocacy role at Icknield School

As a Level 2 RR special school we knew from the outset that there would be challenges on the way to achieving our RRS accreditation. However, we passionately believe that recognising and upholding the UN Rights of the child underpins everything we do. We wanted a framework where we could focus on and celebrate our values and philosophy. The challenges were well known to us as they occur every single day for our pupils with severe learning difficulties. We are experts at finding ways to access our pupils to the curriculum and to give them a voice to enable them to have choices and to be empowered in all areas of their lives in a society which does not always value them. The reason we do this is that we know that they have the same Rights as every other child. Over the years teachers in special schools have experienced immense frustration because our pupils are compared with and expected to fit in to an expected ‘norm’. If they don’t then it is up to us, as professionals, to squeeze, adapt, modify and recreate a curriculum which is aimed at ‘typically developing children’ (if they do indeed exist).

We take our duty of care and our status of ‘in loco parentis’ very seriously and will make decisions for individual children based on their needs and considering their Rights at all times. Sometimes physiotherapy is hard work and exhausting for our children but we know that the outcome will be that a child retains mobility. It may not be something the child chooses to do but it is in their best interests.

At Icknield School we believe that it is our responsibility as professionals, as advocates, to create situations, challenges, opportunities and activities that enable our children to shine in their own right. As part of our recent Comenius project we came to a shared definition of inclusion for our school:

An inclusive education removes barriers to learning, celebrates diversity and through this encourages a society of equality, acceptance and mutual respect.

Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

Albert Einstein

Here at Icknield School we do not attempt to squeeze our children into round holes but choose instead to create holes of all different shapes and sizes which truly reflect their needs and abilities.

Ruth Drewett, 21 May 2014