3. Laws, Plans, Policies and Programmes
6. Teachers and Support Personnel
There is no official definition of inclusive education in Anguilla.
Special education needs
The 2011 Education Bill defines special education as education suitable to the best development of individuals who ‘are hearing or visually impaired, physically disabled, emotionally or behaviourally disturbed’ or ’have moderate or severe learning disabilities including those with profound multiple disabilities’.
Special education is also defined as education suitable for the requirements of pupils who are gifted or have exceptional ability.
According to the Education Bill, the minister responsible for education may, as resources permit, include as part of the education system of public education ‘any or all of the following’:
- Early childhood education
- Special education
- Adult education
- Distance education.
The school system comprises three categories of education institutions: public schools, private education institutions and assisted private schools.
Special education programmes are delivered by the chief education officer in consultation with professional staff of the school, the Ministry of Education and the parents with due regard for the education needs of the student. Special education programmes may take the form of an individual education plan tailored to the specific or individual needs of the student.
According to the 2015–20 Education Development Plan, a very small number of children who cannot be catered for in the regular public primary school system are catered for in a variety of units. Students with the most severe communications problems and mobility disabilities are catered for by the Developing a Vision for Education (DOVE) unit based at the Alwyn Alison Primary School. In addition, there is a unit at the Orealia Kelly Primary School and another at the Adrian T. Hazell school for children who are ‘moderately disabled’, and there is one at the Valley school for children with emotional issues.
According to UNICEF, at the secondary level two programmes provide education for children with special education needs: the Workshop Initiative for Support in Education and the Pupil Referral Unit. These programmes do not focus exclusively on children with learning or physical disabilities.
Anguilla is a British overseas territory in the Caribbean and associate member of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States. The Anguilla Constitution Order of 1982 has provisions for the protection of freedom of conscience and for non-discrimination on the grounds of race, religion, place of origin, colour and disability, among others characteristics. However, it does not recognize the right to education.
The Education Bill regulates the education system in the country.
Anguilla’s National Social Protection Policy, prepared in 2018 by the Department of Social Development and the Ministry of Health and Social Development with the assistance of UNICEF, set out the framework for an integrated social protection system in Anguilla. The policy brings together three main components of social protection: contributory schemes, non-contributory schemes and social service delivery aimed at empowering individuals, including through education. Its vision is to support progress toward the SDGs through social protection by strengthening livelihoods and promoting poverty alleviation, education and lifelong learning, social inclusion and gender equality. One of the guidelines governing the implementation of this policy involved recognizing and responding to patterns of disadvantage in gender, vulnerability, ‘belonger status’, exclusion and disempowerment and realizing a human rights-based approach to social protection.
The Social Protection Policy has a Plan of Action for its implementation comprising the period of 2019–21.
The 2015–20 Education Development Plan promoted equity in and universal access to education. It sought to give support to vulnerable children and ensure that they can access pre-primary school. At the primary level, the priority was to ensure that all children complete seven years of quality primary education regardless of any physical or intellectual disability. At the secondary level, the expected outcome was for all children to complete five years of an appropriate, affordable quality secondary education and for selected students to complete two further years of upper secondary education. At this level, the attention is placed on access, curriculum development and human resource development.
The Situation Analysis of Children in Anguilla prepared by UNICEF in 2016 considers five categories of vulnerable groups of children in Anguilla:
- Children living with parents who are underemployed and/or have inadequate employment
- Children who live in single-parent households headed by women
- Children who do not learn properly at school
- Children with disabilities and/or special needs
- Children who are residents but are ‘non-belongers’, especially those for whom English is not their mother tongue.
Special education is regulated under Division 4, Part 3 of the 2011 Education Bill. The bill directs that the chief education officer should ‘provide special education programmes for students whether of compulsory school age or older, who by virtue of intellectual, communicative, behavioural, physical or multiple exceptionalities are in need of special education.’ The programme should be delivered in the ‘least restrictive and most enabling environment to the extent that resources permit’ and may take the form of an individual education plan tailored to the specific needs of the student.
Article 22 refers to the determination of special education needs. If the student is in attendance at an education institution, the principal shall, in consultation with professional staff and parents, determine ‘whether the student is a student with special educational needs and, if so, the special education programme which is most appropriate to meet the needs of that student.’ If the child does not attend an education institution, it is the responsibility of the chief education officer to decide the special education programme that best suits the child after receiving the consent of the parent.
According to the 2018 National Social Protection Policy, the education sector’s policy is to mainstream all children, including those with behavioural, learning, and physical challenges, who are able to attend school. At primary level there are three counsellors responsible for dealing with children with a range of psychosocial issues. There is also a counsellor who provides similar support at the only secondary school in the country. A child who is seen as ‘disruptive’ will be referred to the Pupil Referral Unit, which will provide more supervised instruction, with smaller classes and one-on-one attention. The few children who are not able to be mainstreamed are assessed and catered for by relevant units.
One of the expected outcomes of the 2015–20 Education Development Plan was for all children to have the opportunity to complete two years of an appropriate pre-primary education and seven years of quality primary education regardless of any physical or intellectual disability. The plan foresaw the early screening of preschool children to detect speech and language problems or any other health issues. At the primary level, ‘children with SEN [special education needs] will be catered for by qualified staff in secure accommodation in the relevant SEN unit.’
According to UNICEF’s 2016 Situation Analysis of Children in Anguilla, children with disabilities and special needs are considered one of the most at-risk groups in the country. The situation of children with disabilities in Anguilla is practically unknown as the country has no record on how many children have disabilities, nor the types of disabilities, and there is still widespread stigma and discrimination of children with disabilities in the society.
The Education Bill establishes that the minister in charge of education has the responsibility to pursue the development of an understanding of the principle of gender equality in the education system.
The 2018 National Social Protection Policy devoted considered attention to gender equality and social inclusion in social protection programming.
According to the Situation Analysis of Children in Anguilla, there are more girls than boys enrolled in the last years of secondary education and moving into higher education. More boys are dropping out than girls at the secondary level.
As reported by the 2015–20 Education Development Plan, an increasing number of children enrolled in primary schools do not have English as their first language. Children from a growing Spanish community comprise up to 25% of enrolment in some schools. The plan foresaw the establishment of an English as a second language (ESL) centre to cater for these children.
According to UNICEF, language is one of the main issues pushing students to drop out of school at the secondary level. While initiatives such as the ESL programme exist in primary schools, they do not exist at the secondary level and therefore secondary students whose first language is not English do not receive institutional support.
Anguilla’s public assistance programme for primary school was to be extended to preschool services under the 2015–20 Education Development Plan. The programme includes support for the payment of school fees, uniform fees and school transportation for families who require it. However, according to UNICEF, many families face difficulties surmounting the hidden costs of education. In addition, there is no programme subsidized by the government to provide meals for the most vulnerable children. Other costs, such as the cost of books and transportation, represent a significant burden for parents.
Migrants and ‘non-belongers’
Anguilla’s National Social Protection Policy acknowledges that while school attendance is required as part of the right to education, the right is often a ‘challenge for non-belongers’. The Education Department requires a letter from the Immigration Department together with a receipt of payment; parents who cannot afford to pay or who cannot secure the letter from the Education Department are not allowed to attend school.
According to UNICEF’s 2016 Situation Analysis of Children in Anguilla, the increasing influx of migrants from the Dominican Republic has resulted in a group of vulnerable children (and their families) who are residents but ‘non-belongers’ and whose mother tongue is not English. Migrant children face obstacles when accessing education and basic social services as there is a distinction between nationals and non-nationals.
The Education Department works under the Ministry of Health and Social Development, Lands and Physical Planning. Children in need are supported by the Department of Social Development. The Education Bill directs that the minister in charge of education may establish a council on special education to advise on guidelines for the implementation of special education (Article 24).
The DOVE unit caters for children with severe communication problems and mobility disabilities. It is in charge of updating education facilities to make them accessible for students with disabilities. The education officer of multiprofessional support services is responsible for and oversees the various units that function to support teaching and learning, including Special Education, School Health and Counselling.
The management structure of the Education Department can be consulted online. Gender matters are coordinated by the Gender Affairs Unit at the Ministry of Health and Social Development.
Infrastructure and services
The 2015–20 Education Development Plan encouraged reforms at special education needs units to ensure that they are accessible for children with disabilities, such as the renovation of bathroom facilities at the Alwyn Alison Primary School to make them accessible for children in wheelchairs. This work is conducted under the leadership of the DOVE.
According to the 2015–20 Education Development Plan, the curriculum is largely determined by the Caribbean Examination Council. One of the priorities of the plan was to reform and renew the national curriculum to be consistent with the Caribbean Community’s learning outcomes at pre-primary level. At the primary level, the plan sought to review the curriculum on a five-year basis. All new curricula are expected to have a section devoted to ICT.
Learning materials and ICT
The 2015–20 Education Development Plan promoted the development of technological and technical education with particular emphasis on information technology. A significant investment in computer laws for all schools was considered under the plan.
According to the 2015–20 Education Development Plan, all schools have access to counsellors who assist children in need. Attention is placed on children who are in need of individual attention and have learning difficulties in school. The plan included in its targets for all teachers to be qualified and certified by 2020. However, there are no specific provisions for teacher training on inclusive education.
At the secondary level, the plan acknowledged the need for further special education needs specialists to work at the special education units.
While there is no evidence of indicators to monitor inclusive education in the country, the Education Department occasionally publishes an end-of-year report. The last end-of-year report available online covers the period of 2014–15.