The inclusion of disadvantaged groups
It is forecast that climate change will disproportionally effect the poorer and disadvantaged people in the world. We are keen to ensure that our project helps include and engage disadvanted groups. Here we outline why and how we hope to do this.
What do we mean by “disadvantaged”?
The term disadvantaged may refer to an individual or group who is at some form of social, economic or educational disadvantage. Researchers may define those young people as disadvantaged who have little or no family support, who are not familiar with the local language, who belong to an immigrant background or who have low personal resources such as no school qualifications (Policy review of the Youth Research Cluster on Social Inclusion, 2012). Individuals from disadvantaged groups may struggle in the education system. Within this education system, the following groups are often regarded as disadvantaged: young people not yet ready for education, , young people with learning disabilities and formally low-skilled, socially disadvantaged young people who have not been admitted or have not completed their training (Hofmann et al, 2017).
Benefits of the Planet Friendly School approach for disadvantaged groups
Research has shown that when outdoor learning is combined with more traditional learning methods, it can lead to a deeper level of knowledge and understanding of topics, than if either methods are used on their own. Much of the academic research that has been carried out suggests that when combining theoretical learning with real-world experiential learning, outdoor learning can help with learning skills such as improving academic achievement, supporting cross-curricular learning, as well as improving critical thinking (Fisher-Maltese, Fisher and Ray, 2018; McCarty, 2013; Smeds, Jeronen, and Kurppa, 2015). Softer skills may also be developed, helping with problem-solving skills such as teamworking and leadership. This points to the hypothesis that such learning methods can have long term positive impacts and specifically, as previously mentioned, for those who struggle in mainstream education. Such individuals may have become disengaged with education and outdoor learning often provides opportunities to re-engage young people through learning in new ways; helping to create new roles and identities from those that have previously been established in the in the classroom (Camasso and Jagannathan, 2018).
In relation to those refugee and migrant children who originate from rural backgrounds, the school garden can provide these children with opportunities to link learning to their existing knowledge and experiences. This can create new opportunities for these students, to share their experiences from their countries of origin with their contemporaries in their new host countries.
Integrative vs inclusive education
Integration assumes that a society consists of a relatively homogenous majority group and a series of smaller external groups that needs to be integrated into the existing system. Inclusion regards all people as equal individuals within the society (Güngör, 2013). In terms of the education system, this means that instead of the pupil attempting to integrate into an existing system, it is the school's mission to practice a system of inclusion to ensure that all students are able to participate with their respective skills and talents (Schöb, 2013). In an inclusive education system, children from all communities and with a range of abilities learn together. Inclusive education acknowledges that all children can learn and respects the differences between individual children.
Special educational needs (SEN)
Education of pupils with special educational needs (SEN) is an integral part of the education system in most of the European countries. Support for young people with special educational needs (SEN) aims at stimulating pupils’ psychological and physical development and enhancing the effectiveness of learning. Such support is intended to relieve the causes and symptoms of disorders, including behavioral disorders, and to support pupils in gaining the most from their education. It is crucial to prepare children and young people for life as full members of society (within the family, local community and labor market) by ensuring through special methods, that an individual’s potential is enhanced as much as possible. In order to ensure the effectiveness of their educational support, it is necessary to first identify the pupil's needs and to then provide the most suitable types and methods of support.
Inclusion of hard to reach groups
Practical, real-world learning offers particular benefits to all children but specially to those individuals who sometimes struggle in mainstream education. Children and young people with special educational needs, such as those at risk of exclusion from mainstream education, can often benefit from learning in a new environment. One of the core aims of this approach to learning is to re-engage young people by providing alternative experiences to mainstream schooling and to approach learning from a broader perspective. Often in cases where practical activities have been offered, teaching staff and education officers have identified profound improvements in physical and mental health, as well as educational development.
Inclusion of refugee children
Over the last few years, European countries have had to face the challenge of integrating large numbers of refugees into their societies. Planet Friendly School activities offer refugees new perspectives on life outside the refugee camps that many have lived in, and an insight into European life and its associated food culture. Some of these refugee children may come from agricultural families or communities and may indeed have a better understanding of these issues than their EU contemporaries.