At The Humanities Education Centre (HEC) Global Learning Centre we were excited to launch our Schools Linking Programme this year, linking 479 pupils from 16 classes in mainstream and special schools in Tower Hamlets. The idea for linking special schools with mainstream schools came about as a result of discovering a hate crime statistic in Tower Hamlets – last year, 27 crimes were committed against disabled people. We felt that we must respond to this statistic positively and constructively, hence the idea to link schools.
Furthermore, we recently learned that there is an increase in applications to mainstream schools from special needs students. Teachers in mainstream schools would therefore benefit from the knowledge and expertise of teachers who work with special needs children.
As an organisation that embraces diversity, we see it as our duty to come together to build a community that integrates different needs and abilities. Our challenge is to do this with criticality, so that we are not perpetuating a charity mentality. Rather, we are looking to engender an appreciation for the different ways each of us inhabits our shared world. Equally, we believe that everyone has something to offer when they are enabled, rather than disabled, by society. And the best part is that will not only be linking schools, but we will be looking for an arts organisation to link with ourselves to deliver the project! We hope to be able to support schools better by going through the linking process ourselves. It will certainly make for a more rounded experience for all.
We look forward to reporting further on our progress!
Linda Barker, Consultant to HEC email@example.com
Alia Al Zougbi, Head of HEC Global Learning, firstname.lastname@example.org