UK. GOVERNMENT WARNING ... Are we going to send your child to mainstream school with out safe guards!!! UK Governments green paper for (SEN) special educational needs - our response
1) Recognising the important value of preparing all persons with autism for successful functioning within society. Each person with autism should be taught with the goal of successful functioning with as few restrictions as is possible.
2) Decisions about including children with autism into fully integrated settings must be made consistent with the principal of the "least restrictive environment" as a guiding principal. No person with autism should be unnecessarily or inappropriately denied access to meaningful educational activities. However, it should be noted that the concept of least restrictive environment requires that appropriate learning take place. Placement decisions also require that students be capable of meaningful learning and functioning within the setting selected.
3) Activities which are inclusive for children with autism should be offered based on an individual assessment of the child's skills and abilities to function and participate in the setting. Inclusion activities are appropriate only when preceded by adequate assessment and pre-placement preparations including appropriate training. Inclusion activities typically need to be supported by professionals trained in autism who can provide assistance and objective evaluation of the appropriateness of the activity.
4) Inclusion should never replace a full continuum of service delivery, with different students with autism falling across the full spectrum. Full inclusion should be offered to all persons with autism who are capable of success in fully integrated settings. Partial inclusion is expected to be appropriate for other clients with autism. And special classes and schools should be retained as an option for those students with autism for whom these settings are the most meaningful and appropriate.
Things to consider
The paper suggests that special needs is a tempory state. Many of our children will have special needs for the whole of their lifetime. Special schools work hard to help children come to terms with their disabilities. The lack of a disabled peer group in a mainstream setting can cause problems, particularly for older children.
There is an assumption that providing a ramp, a special chair and a computer will ebable a child to be educated in a mainstream school.
Will mainstream schools want more children with special needs? They threaten to lower the levels achieved in the league tables and spoil attendance figuires.
Educating a child with special needs is a full-time job and cannot be done effectively by a specialist dropping in to support mainstream teachers on an occasional basis.
Children with low incidence disabilities are often those who need to have the shortest journey time possible. This raises the concern over the idea of regional planning to meet those needs.
Some schools already have difficulty in recruiting specialist staff. Will there be teachers, especially those to teach children with profound and multiple learning difficulties, in a few years time? Specialist knowledge cannot be acquired over a few days of training. There should be initial teaching courses designed especially for teachers who wish to teach children with profound and multiple learning difficulties.
Extracts from the response to Education for All by AUTISM Independent UK