September 2006 – March 2007

Well, as we expected the summer flew by in a flash, Christmas has been and gone and here we are already a third of the way into 2007! After enjoying our very busy, but relaxing summer, One For All has a lot to report on the events of the Autumn and Spring terms so far….

This year it is Lindsey’s turn to take a well earned break from the practicalities of One For All work, as this is her final and all important year at Sheffield Hallam Uni. But, as you know, the One For All team like to keep busy and can never stay away for too long! So in the process of completing her final dissertation, Lindsey has made a very important contribution to our organisation, as she has conducted a qualitative study into the use of facilitated communication and the effect this can have on the friendships of those who use it. We at One For All are always keen to update our knowledge of disability/inclusion issues and we are certain this info is very relevant to our work, and beneficial to many of you clients out there. In fact, one of the key principles underlying the work of One For All is communication, so this research will prove crucial to our services, especially to those who are marginalised by communication difficulties. It appears that current research on facilitated communication is very sparse, so this is ground breaking stuff – well done Lindsey! (At the moment Lindsey is still busy completing the remainder of her degree, but we hope to put some of her research in the featured items of the website soon – watch this space!)

Meanwhile, since graduating from Hull University in the summer, things have been very hectic for Lucy, in the scary transformation from fun-loving student, to one of the workforce! After the most fab 3 years at uni and all the fun of graduation celebrations, it was time to get some work experience teaching, in preparation for the music P.G.C.E! Since our last diary entry, Lucy has spent some time in the hospital school and with the play leaders on the children’s wards of Nottingham City Hospital. This was a heartening experience and a great opportunity for a member of the team to learn about a different aspect of education. This experience revealed hospital education to be a very complex task, because the children it serves are more vulnerable than their peers. It was also apparent that this work often goes unnoticed, as it takes place outside of the conventional classroom, and yet it is so much more demanding because it goes beyond simply delivering the national curriculum. Here, Lucy worked with a large number of children of all ages and abilities, who despite the complications of their illnesses continued to learn and play together, thanks to the help of a very skilled and dedicated group of staff.

In September, it was finally time to begin that long awaited bumpy road to becoming a teacher, as Lucy embarked on the secondary music P.G.C.E. course at Nottingham Trent University – and what a bumpy ride it was! After 3 short, but very illuminating days, she left the course, overwhelmed by the minefield of politics which seemed to obscure education. This was enough to realise that it was time to leave the conventional setting of the classroom and teach music in the way she had originally intended – as a peripatetic instrumental teacher, working closely with individuals and small groups of children, to teach them the finer points of music (with a focus on the performance of the flute, clarinet and saxophone). Although the P.G.C.E. course did not work out, it proved to be a very positive experience as a member of One For All, because it helped us to realise the harsh realities of teaching – and as the saying goes… where one door closes, another one opens! It certainly has, because Lucy feels that working as a peripatetic teacher, first and foremost provides an entirely more musical experience than the classroom can allow, and it also provides greater opportunity to work in many different schools, across a wider age and ability range. This is very important from the perspective of the One For All team, as it still keeps us in touch with the front line of the education system – this time as one of the staff! The job is certainly keeping Lucy busy, but most importantly it allows for a more individual and inclusive style of teaching. We also hope that having a member of the team actually working within the education system on a permanent basis, will help to maintain the long-term ideals and goals of One For All, but also bring to them a focused and objective view, that is able to take a more accurate account of the daily practicalities encountered in education.

Speaking of long-term goals, Maresa has been very busy with her own degree since September and has also been the most active member the group in promoting our services and securing further projects to challenge One For All. This summer we look forward to meeting up with all of our allies and fellow inclusion organisations at an inclusion conference, which will be held at the Gateway Hotel in Nottingham. The event is likely to play host to many international inclusion figures and organisations, so we are all very excited, as there could be many potential links to help the group develop! It will also be a great opportunity for the people who helped to form One For All, see how we are progressing and who knows, making international links could help the group to diversify, or even allow us to jet off to warmer climates – well, we can hope! Look out for more info about this event in the workshop section of the website nearer to the time!

More recently, Maresa has been promoting inclusion beyond the East Midlands, down in London – not quite the tropics of abroad, but hey, we are going beyond our own region, which is what we had always planned to do! Most importantly, this meeting enabled some of One For All’s ideas and experiences to reach a major organisation that is responsible for many of the political decisions which underpin the entire structure of the education system (for better or worse!) – On Tuesday 13th March 2007, Maresa attended an inclusion training event with the Department for Education and Skills.

This event had been organised by two associates of Maresa, Lucy Mason and Tom Minor, who are part of HEYA, (a youth led collective, whose primary goal is to empower young people to actively take leadership within their communities, and realise social change, by including everyone in the process). Together they formed a panel of 4 disabled young people and 2 non-disabled young people, who began by introducing themselves. Lucy then did a 10 minute power point presentation, with an overview of the history and economics of how disabled people have been seen in our society, and the importance of the disability movement. This was followed by others on the panel saying a little about their stories, what they are doing and how they have got to where they are now. Ellen and Michael talked about growing up together as disabled and non-disabled siblings, Joanne focussed on her experience as a black, visually impaired, wheelchair user and Maresa said a bit about her story, of being someone who needs a lot of assistance, especially to enable her communication. Tom and Michael then talked for a few minutes about being friends and allies.

In the second part of the afternoon everyone divided into 3 groups, each consisting of about 8 people, and for approximately 15 minutes they discussed the role of people working in the DfES. Finally, the afternoon ended with a closing circle where everyone said something about what they had learnt.

Maresa came away feeling especially pleased that she, as part of One for All, had made contact with somebody working in the DfES in Sheffield, and we are all hoping that this meeting marks the start of many future collaborations with the DfES, as we believe it could prove to be a very positive experience for all involved.

Phew – That was a long diary entry….. And we thought we’d take it easy this year because of uni and work! Doesn’t time fly when you’re having fun. We’ll be back before you know it with an update on our hectic schedule!