achievement and leadership

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Leadership in the education industry is well known to play an important part in assisting children with SEN/Ds. Every learning institution's mission and vision is to comprehend students' actual success and assist them in achieving their hopes and goals (SciencePG, 2012). Leadership, as the instructional method, is the idea of assisting students in realizing more of their abilities in order to achieve achievement.

The government and other non-governmental organisations have spent significant funds and time in leadership to ensure the growth of the education sector. It has established adequate training colleges to ensure that highly trained teachers are present in schools. For example, in England, training programs for educators were established by constructing colleges to teach school leadership. Besides knowledge impacted into the students in the classroom, school leadership is of secondary importance (Whelan, 2009, p. 78).

Good leaders always come through understanding the environment and context in which they are operating in schools. For example, they should comprehend the type of institution, the way matters are conducted within the affiliations, analyze social, cultural and organizational issues. The key is that leadership serves to ensure the education sector successful functioning.

Types of Leadership Models

First, there is the adaptive leadership which focuses on management practice which will be used in situations where there are no solutions (Australian Public Service Commission, 2017). Using such model, there are some rules to be followed. One will have to observe patterns and events and take data without making any assumptions about the data’s meaning or forming judgments. And finally, a leader will have to design interventions based on the observations and make progress on the adaptive challenge. The type is vital when an issue of an action taken by one person influences the others occurs.

Secondly, the authoritative type usually exemplified when school leader dictates procedures and policies deciding the goals to be achieved in the class or school. Moreover, in the model, the teacher has full control of the students. The type is very important because the students always have some respect for the teacher because he is the one who directs them.

Another leadership model involves someone providing direction or instructions in schools because of the purpose of achieving a goal. The one who is chosen to be the team leader reports to the one above him till it reaches the overall head of the school. The model is applicable when students aim at a particular goal though choosing a team boss who will be able to lead them, same with the teachers.

Conditions Associated with the Success of a School

In a study conducted by Christopher Chapman et al (2012), some of the conditions that lead to a school’s progress and the standards of leadership that assist to foster these operational terms were highlighted. The first condition was culture and ethos. School leaders apply all their skills in the learning process. The condition is also characterized by the involvement of teachers even in the student’s personal life. The second aspect was practice promoting all round excellence in a student’s performance. From the study, a difference in practice among schools was investigated. The common factor was the unity of staff members in regard to their students. Structure and systems were the third condition which stated that the schools had well-defined structure systems that could accommodate any learning challenge including children with special needs and disabilities. The fourth object of study was leadership and management. School leaders were happy with how they manage their schools and how they are able to meet different cultures brought about by their students (Chapman et al., 2010).

However, these conditions are not a representation of every school. The atmosphere in a school influences a child’s learning ability. It is important for schools to adopt diversity since they are the pillars of the society. A child’s disability does not make them any different from their peers in terms of achievement. Exclusion of these students causes them not to reach their level of performance ability, hence placing them in the role of societal outcasts. Edmunds and Macmillan (2010) state that those students who come from backgrounds that are not stable are more prone to exclusion from school (p. 23). Hence, they eventually perform lower as compared to their counterparts. School leaders need to realize that they play the biggest role in bringing about change. However, the government needs to place more effort in giving these students a standing in the society. Schools need to implement many improved structures that will not only support the SEN/D students but also give them an equal platform to compete with their peers which will help greatly aid them in reaching their full potential.

Societal Contributions on a Student's Achievement

The society plays a big role in the performance of a child in school. The government is at a place where it is fighting for the SEN/D's rights. However, despite the efforts being made by the government to include the special needs and disabled children in mainstream schools, these children are still being excluded in the society. It is stated, children in the special needs group are nearly eight times more prone to exclusion in their learning activities than their peers are (Douglas Silas Solicitors, 2008, n.p.). So where does the issue arise from and how can it be rectified? It is recommended to adopt the social model as a mechanism to solve the problem. The social model involves changing the school's structure, to accommodate all types of children with special needs. The prestige of any school is in its performance since children go to school to learn and be the best they can in the society. The problem arises in cases where schools put more effort in their performance and their place in the society, that they disregard the inclusion of SEN/D. Without inclusion, these children continue to perform poorly. The norm is however not found in all schools. Some schools have a system that encourages the inclusion of special needs students and provides a platform in which these students can thrive. The society has sung the slogan that, ‘disability is not inability' for so long. However, the society still views the SEN/D as a marginal. Changing the mentality is not easy especially in schools which face external pressure from parents and the society at large. Nevertheless, a change can come about if the beliefs and mentality of people change.

Relationship between Culture and Leadership

A person's culture determines their view points and how they lead. Therefore, an individual's decision making can be influenced by the cultural norm in the institution. At times, it acts as a hindrance to change. On the other hand, a school may decide to adopt a much new culture where they are inclusive of the special needs children and those also with disabilities. Culture change can happen if the leaders are more open to newer things. Through activities like benchmarking, schools are able to expose themselves to other school cultures, and facilitates the change. In a study conducted by Spence (2010, p. 43), it was discovered that schools that have adopted successful inclusion, have some elements in common; funding, collaboration, visionary leaders, revising the utilization of the various assessments, promoting the staff and learners, involving parents effectively and adapting curricular practices that come along with instructional exercises.

Such students need to feel normal in order for them to achieve both in school and in life. They also need leaders not to simply encourage but to believe in them. There is a clear symbiosis between leadership and achievement. The first step to a more accepting and accommodating society is with school leaders. In spite of a child's ability or disability, the world stands together in emphasizing the importance of education. However, the bigger question is, and still continues to be, where do we place students experiencing additional needs and disabilities in our education system? The involvement of both teachers, parents and the government, will give SEN/D an equal fighting chance in the society. A child's achievement is not in their lack of sight, or voice or even hands. A child's achievement is in their minds. The government has policies that favor SEN/D by inclusion which will act as a catalyst in enabling them to fit in society.

Part 3

The Role of the Senior Teaching Assistant

A senior teaching assistant plays a vital role in the education sector especially in the case of children with SEN/D. The professional supports and progresses pupil’s learning by using detailed knowledge and specialist skills. Additionally, such people help in the development and also in the implementation of the Education Plans of the children with SEN/Ds. Moreover, they establish and implement productive working relationships with the pupils, hence they act as key Worker group of the children with SEN/D’s. They are able to organize the children well so that they learn comfortably. Additionally, the professionals ensure that acceptance and inclusion of all the students in the class. That is, all students have equal rights in the class and there is no one discriminating them.

In addition to that, they encourage the pupils to consistently interact and work together with others and also ensure that all the students in the school are engaged in all the activities. They invent ways of feedback to the children on the way they are progressing in academics and also in non-curriculum activate.

Moreover, they promote independence among the learners and also employ ways and strategies of recognizing the students who have done well academically and also in other activities and rewarding them.

Finally, they support the students always no matter the problem they are facing, and they respond to their needs as individuals. They are able to know the students facing challenges and find means of helping them and preventing the problem from facing other children.

The Inclusive Method

Encouraging inclusion in any school has proven to be advantageous for the SEN/D. It is the responsibility of the teachers and the society, to give these children a fighting chance. I often find it valuable, not to seclude these children from their peers because it gives them skills in dealing with the society. As a nation, we may not be where we want to be in terms of inclusion, however, things are transforming and more schools are accommodating children with disabilities and special needs in comparison to the earlier centuries, where SEN/D students were placed in separate educational facilities. The main argument as to why inclusion is very important is due to the fact that, it enables people to develop appropriate attitudes towards people with SEN/D and also helps these children with special needs to be integrated into the community. According to research conducted, people are able to be more comfortable around SEN/D, when they interact with them and have information (Konza, 2008, p. 40). In my field of work, I am afforded the chance to interact with these children. We are able to modify behavior and set a healthy amount of boundary to improve behavior in accordance to the National Care Standards and Bild.

Through the method, the learners with disabilities have achieved great success, for example, the students with learning disabilities are performing no differently in mathematics and reading like those with no disabilities. Additionally, the students with disabilities are also performing highly in games just like the students with no disabilities. It is clearly shown in athletics and other games too.

Challenges Facing the Inclusion Model

We are fighting for inclusion of children with disabilities and special needs into our mainstream schools. However, certain challenges are faced in the inclusion model. In a statement released by Ron Nelson, who is a Professor and Co-director of the Center for AT-Risk Children’s services, as a society, we are fighting for inclusion; however, we do not know how to make the inclusion model work. If implemented effectively, inclusion can assist in the overall achievement of a student. With a population of 6.5 million students with SEN/D, it is essential to come up with an effective inclusion model that will help meet their needs individually. Achievement is brought about by the continuous growth of a student’s performance both education wise and socially. Some of the other challenges faced when it comes to inclusion is the resistance by some school leaders in implementing inclusion in their schools. Studies also show that majority of principals are not prepared when it comes to matters of dealing with special needs children. It can be caused by lack of any relevant program related with special needs and disabled students.

The reason leaders play a very big role in the achievement of a SEN/D is that, as leaders, we are responsible for strategy implementation. Policies are changing, with school principals being called upon developing more inclusive approach (Billingsley, McLeskey, Crockettet, 2014, p. 6). Thus the big responsibilities of school leaders in ensuring the increase in the performance are clear. It is not easy to implement successfully an inclusion model in a school.One of my roles as a senior teaching assistant is to liaise with teachers on the progress of pupils in relation to the target we have set for them. The kind of system helps us keep up with every student. In my role, I am able to help class teachers in different ways. Sharing of work load helps the concentration of the performance of each of the student, therefore helping them meet their achievement goal.

It is a tag of war on whether inclusion is good for the special group of students. There is concern that these students may fail to achieve their best on capabilities in the inclusion model because of lack of very close attention. On the other hand, experts fear that if these students are separated from their peers, they may not realize their full potential. In a recent study, it was observed that students who are placed in inclusive classes perform better than those who are placed in special needs classes. When brainstorming on the study, I discovered that, in the inclusion model, students with SEN/D performed better due to the challenge they face in terms of education from the other students. However, students who are taught in special needs classes do not have the challenge and drive. They are also handled with kid gloves, therefore, they do not get to exercise their full achievement potential (Spence, 2010, p.38).

Lamb Inquiry

Lamb inquiry is a program that was established as a Government response to the House of Commons Education (Douglas Silas Solicitors, 2008, n.p.). The Lamb Inquiry in the leadership of Brian Lamb held meetings with parents and it was the one which triggered the SEN and Disability Information Review in order to provide the required information. The recommendations given by the Lamb Inquiry suggested a new way of providing information to the SEN and disability. Lamb Inquiry was established in order to investigate ways and means of ensuring that parents are confident in the SEN system of assessment.

Recommendation for Future Enhancement

Children with disability and special needs should not be discriminated in our society. They play a detrimental role in the future growth of our global community. Their level of achievement is not determined by any birth defect. Their performance and inclusion can be enhanced through the process of redesigning the curriculum framework and instructional program. Secondly, another recommendation is setting up direction. Once the vector is shown, there is a need for developing people which mentally prepares for the implication of the inclusion model.

Based on my research and experience, every child has an equal chance of great achievement if given the chance. It is reported that the highest number of children who do not attend school comes from learners in the category of special needs and disabilities. The society fails to see the potential in these children. Therefore, it is the work of leaders both in school and in the government to give these children a chance at a better education system. Principals may face a hard challenge in ensuring effective implementation of the inclusion model, nonetheless, it is their work as leaders both in school and in society to ensure that SEN/D are given a fair chance as other children without disabilities (Fore, 2008, p. 60). To adopt such a change, we all need to change our mind set. Stephen Hawking is a name that is globally recognized due to his contribution to science. He suffers from a rare early-onset form of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis that has left him paralyzed. Due to the type of illness, Stephen Hawking has been left disabled. However, it has not stopped the great man of science from making an unmatched contribution to science. The life of Stephen Hawking gave me the realization that, as I had earlier stated, ‘disability is not inability.'

The issue of full inclusion will continue to baffle people. Nevertheless, I still believe that if leaders give the model a chance, it will work to the student's advantage. Look at the life of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He served as the U.S. president and during his time of service, the President was in a wheelchair. These two icons are just but a few people I came across in my research. However, I believe that caution should be placed when it comes to full inclusion. Studies show that not all students with disabilities and special needs can go to mainstream schools. Children with severe cases of special needs and disabilities may need too much attention that at times may lack in mainstream schools. So the question arises, what is to happen to such children? Is it okay to just confine them to the special needs schools or would it be healthy to let them interact with other children? No reasonable conclusion can be drawn for the question. It is a matter of debate. However, in conclusion, regardless of a child's ability or disability, it is the role of the leaders both in schools and society, to ensure that they achieve in school and in life. The atmosphere created in school by principals and other school leaders will create a platform for the child's achievement which also applies to the government and parents.

The world is constantly changing and as the world changes, so should we as school leaders. We should have a mentality that is constantly being renewed. It will enable the successful implementation of policies that will ensure that our students gain a competitive edge in the market. With the examples given above of famous people with disabilities, it is a challenge for every person in leadership position to renew our mentality and realize the destiny of these students is hanging in the balance and it is our duty to ensure that they achieve to the fullest of their ability and get equal chances as their fellow students. Good leadership and great achievement in schools go hand in hand. They are dependent on each other.

References

Australian Public Service Commission. (2014). Adaptive Leadership. [Online] .apsc.gov.au Available at http://www.apsc.gov.au/publications-and-media/current-publications/thinking-about-leadership-a-brief-history-of-leadership-thought/adaptive-leadership/. [Accessed 4 August, 2017].

Billingsley, S. B., McLeskey, J., and Crockett, B. J. (2014). Principal Leadership: Moving Toward Inclusive and High Achieving Schools for Students with Disabilities. Gainesville: University of Florida.

Brodie, D. (2011). Leadership Achievement: The Challenge of Making Choices. [Online] goalsandachievements.com. Available at http://www.goalsandachievements.com/leadership-achievement-the-challenge-of-making-choices/. [Accessed 4 August, 2017]

Chapman, C., Ainscow, M., Miles, S., and West, M. (2010). Leadership that Promotes the Achievement of Students with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities: Full Report. Manchester: University of Manchester.

Douglas Silas Solicitors. (2008). The Lamb Inquiry. [Online] specialeducationalneeds.co.uk Available at http://www.specialeducationalneeds.co.uk/the-lamb-inquiry-introduction.html/. [Accessed 4 August, 2017].

Edmunds, L. A. and Macmillan, B. R. (2010). Leadership for Inclusion. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.

Fore, C. et. al. (2008). Academic Achievement and Class Placement in High School: Do Students with Learning Disabilities Achieve More in One Class Placement Than Another?” Education and Treatment of Children, vol. 31, n. 1, pp. 55-72.

Harrison, C. and Killion, J. (2007). Ten Roles for Teacher Leaders. Teachers as Leaders, vol. 65, no. 1, pp. 74-77.

Konza, D. (2008). The Inclusion of Students with Disabilities in New Times: Responding to Challenge. South Wales: University of Wollongong.

Spence, S. R. (2010).The Effects of Inclusion on the Academic Achievement of Regular Education Students. Statesboro: Georgia Southern University.

January 05, 2023
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