A FIVE-year plan to improve inclusion for all children in schools across Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole has been set by the council.

Supporting all children and young people to be included in education with an agreed approach to inclusion practice across all schools and colleges in the conurbation is set out in BCP Council’s Appreciative Inquiry report.

The report gives emphasis on how inclusion practice must carry equal status and importance to academic results and keeping children and young people safe in education by our local schools.

The Appreciative Inquiry report, co-authored by Cllr Nicola Greene, former portfolio holder for schools, and Anthony Douglas CBE, department for education improvement advisor, follows a consultation with all schools and colleges across the area to better understand what inclusion practice is taking place, where there are challenges, best practice and where improvements need to be made.

The report comes at an important time when the council is setting out its written statement of actions following a recent SEND inspection and the Appreciate Inquiry will be integral to that response.

The report makes 45 recommendations on how senior leaders across the sector can, with a collaborative approach, transform inclusion in schools and colleges across the area.

Cllr Greene said: “All children and young people across Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole deserve a good quality education and to be included and have the same opportunities to achieve.

“What we have seen from the outcome of this report is that, whilst there is some good practice taking place in some schools, there is much improvement needed and a consensus and collaborative approach required by all to become inclusive and ambitious for all children.

“We want to give assurance that we are listening and we are committed, together with our schools, to make the change needed. This will require significant transformation and a culture change across the board with the senior leadership from the sector taking a new collaborative approach for the benefit of our children and young people.”

Anthony Douglas said: “Each individual child must be given an equal opportunity and if they have additional needs, they will need extra help to meet their potential.

“Early indications are that the entire education community in the BCP Council area is committed to making this happen and to deliver on the detailed changes that are needed to transform the local education system. This can only be achieved through a step change in collaboration.”

Chris Jackson, head teacher at Avonwood Primary SchooI, said: “I commend BCP Council for commissioning Anthony Douglas to complete this much needed, root and branch review of SEND provision in the BCP Council area. I look forward to seeing the council work in partnership with local education partners to urgently implement all of the robust actions identified in this inquiry.”

Gemma Talbot, executive head teacher at Linwood School, added: "We welcome the recommendations of the report and the council’s commitment to implementing these changes collaboratively.

“In particular, we welcome the acknowledgement of the challenges that schools, and colleges currently face regarding effective inclusion, and we look forward to supporting the initiatives in the report to ensure that all schools have the resources and expertise to inclusively and ambitiously meet the needs of all pupils in the most appropriate school setting.”