Related News

Home » Feature » Education

Meeting the needs of all pupils

SHANGHAI Rego International School will perform "Alice in Wonderland" this summer, an apt interactive drama program considering this is the Year of the Rabbit.

Eileen George, a SENCO (special education needs coordinator) and learning support teacher from Britain, is thrilled to be working with the drama teacher and the rest of the staff to make this a memorable and happy experience.

"I always think one of the great ways for extending and challenging 'whole child' learning for pupils, whatever their skills and needs, is by working on a school play," says George.

The strengths and talents of every child can be celebrated through the careful process of drama and then shared during a performance with an audience of peers and parents.

George organizes the provision of education for pupils with special education needs in schools together with their teachers and parents.

"Some schools call this role an 'INCO,' which is short for inclusive coordinator," explains George.

This is because at schools, teachers such as George like to think that they are working toward an inclusive education for all; whatever a pupil's particular needs, difficulties, talent and/or disability.

Before George made her decision to move to Shanghai last year to continue her education career of 20 years, she had visited China several times in the past 10 years, with footprints covering Hong Kong, Beijing, Fujian, Hunan and Hubei provinces.

"I am interested in bilingual and trilingual pupils, having taught in London to pupils of many nationalities," says George. "I was keen to work with the skills and needs of pupils in an international school, as well as exploring the work done for pupils with a range of special educational needs."

George is now here with her family - including two children aged 10 and 14. She says she loves China and hopes to be here with her family for the long term.

"I work with great colleagues and really enjoy the pupils I work with," George adds. "There never seems to be enough hours in the day to do everything. I think I could do with at least two of me!"

The principle for her work is the quality of the interaction between teacher and pupil, between teacher and teacher and between teacher and parent. "Quality not quantity," George emphasizes.

She strongly recommends the "Quality Circle Time" education model with either secondary or primary school students.

It is a cooperative way of learning from each other, adults and pupils, and also helping each other's difficulties, as these are able to be shared and discussed in a safe, confidential and caring way.

This model was established by Jenny Mosley in Britain and George worked with her at The London Institute of Education. This model can even be done with a circle of parents.

With one year's work here, George has already made some suggestions for special education in international schools in Shanghai.

"I think all schools here are aware that their students are unique and have strengths and weaknesses. But we are only human after all," says George.

She emphasizes that all people will have a special need at some time in their life, as they experience loss or separation and they will experience the death of a loved one. This emotional need will affect the learning and for a child these losses and changes need acknowledging and support. People can have many gifts and talents yet also have a disability or an educational need. And often it is the learning style that needs to be addressed.

"School is a good place to be able to support this, together with parents," adds George. "Inclusive education is something many teachers are aware of and have been trained in."

This "inclusive" approach benefitted everyone in Rego. The whole school is fitted with sound-absorbent boards on the ceilings and in the music hall. This makes the school a wonderfully clear sound space and is similar to the sound quality in a concert hall.

At a primary school where she worked in London, a young girl who joined had a severe visual impairment. The school was an old Victorian building with narrow corridors and concrete stairs.

However it was decided that as her learning needs could be met by the teachers and teaching assistants in her class, it was only the physical building that needed to be adapted. So to help her climb the stairs, the edges of the concrete stairs were painted white. This was such a good idea that it helped other children, also staff, up and down the stairs and it was kept regularly painted, long after she had left.

"This is why we often hear the saying among teachers - what is good for a pupil with a special educational need will also be good for all pupils," concludes George.


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend