education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.

by Lucy Anne Lawton 

Why should disability be hidden away?

As I sit here under the stars at 5am, tea in hand and e-cig on standby – I find myself reflecting on the death of the inspirational icon that was Nelson Mandela. The people of Johannesburg are gathered in unity dancing and celebrating the great revolution that this man achieved in his time on earth. I hope that we as a country, and ideally as a world – can learn something amazing from these people and follow Mandela’s courageous and dignified leadership to create a revolution of our own. Wouldn’t it be great if we lived in a world that accepted, understood and celebrated disability?

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In an age where society seeks to eliminate discrimination; the category of the ‘disabled’ appear to have little voice – quite literally in terms of people living with Autism. I aim to be that voice and call for society to move with the times, adapting attitudes and education to include the vast set of people that are being unheard, or unfortunately are lacking the ability to express their wishes. I believe in the good of people, the current state of division between ‘neurotypical’ people and those with or affected by disability remains at fault of an education system which is failing to take this issue into account. Most teachers in England lack the adequate training to cater for such children yet 71% of children with Autism are educated in mainstream schools.http://www.ambitiousaboutautism.org.uk/page/about_autism/stats_and_facts/index.cfm

Am I missing something? Or is the problem as clear to you as it is to me? The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) framework seeks to provide equality of opportunity and anti-discriminatory practice, ensuring that every child is included and supported. But without the necessary teacher training, the framework contradicts itself. Even the proposed reforms to the frameworkhttp://www.education.gov.uk/schools/teachingandlearning/curriculum/a0068102/early-years-foundation-stage-eyfs cannot be successful unless this essential training is provided.

Once teachers are confident in their ability to handle the complex needs of these children, the pupils themselves must understand and accept the differences of their fellow classmates. This is where the curriculum comes in. Subjects need to be thoroughly revised and adapted to make room for social studies so that teaching difference is made compulsory. Lets start with a new generation of children with understanding attitudes – eradicating discrimination, ceasing problems with bullying and ultimately – slashing the divide.

What a wonderful future this could be. In the words of Nelson Mandela;

‘Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.’

May you Rest In Peace

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