"Even the jewel in the special needs crown - the inclusion movement - may be taking us backwards rather than forwards. There is much brouhaha surrounding the placement of disabled children in mainstream schools. No one, however, seems to be asking whether that placement is really going to reform mainstream education, or whether it will simply draw attention away from the vast numbers of children without disabilities who continue to be disenfranchised, disadvantaged and alienated within ordinary schools."

Professor Alan Dyson, Department of Education, University of Newcastle, TES 26/12/1997

Inclusion: A flawed Vision

One has only to witness the single-minded way in which the philosophy of normalisation, which embraces this inclusive principle, has been promoted in the UK and USA to see the dangers. The propagation of the normalisation principle within a crusade is both dangerous and counterproductive.

Robin Jackson
Professional Development Consultant
Camphill-Rudolf Steiner-Schools

Click here to read full article.

The need for vigilance

The recognition of disability in the 2002 legislation is welcome. Yet, the presumption of mainstreaming in the 2000 Act makes me wary that things may not be as simple as they seem, and that it will be necessary for parents, voluntary agencies and professionals to remain vigilant in ensuring that children receive good education.

Inappropriate mainstreaming of children, which neither meets their educational needs nor those of their class-mates.

Extracts from
The Disappearance of Disability? Thoughts on a Changing Culture
Gilbert MacKay
Professor of Special Education, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow
Published in The British Journal of Special Education
©Blackwell Publishing, 9600 Garsington Road, Oxford, OX4 2DQ, UK

Please note - except for personal research, permission must be sought to use the article in any other way.

Regrettably despite the author’s permission, NASEN have withdrawn permission for this article to be republished on this site.

Effective or Inclusive

Special Needs pupils are losing out at schools which put their efforts into improving their position in exam league tables, according to a new study. Educational Psychologists from the University of London's Institute of Education say it is "virtually impossible" for schools to have the dual-aims of inclusive education and high achievement for most pupils.

Dr Ingrid Lunt and Professor Brahm Norwich, in a study called "Can effective schools be inclusive schools?" suggest that schools that focus on examination results are likely to channel funds into teaching pupils who will reach targets, side lining those with special needs. Schools that focus more on inclusion often teach special needs pupils with higher-ability classmates and this may result in lessons which are to easy and inappropriate for the more able.
The report says that schools at the top of GCSE tables have, on average, 8% of pupils with special needs, compared with an average of 33% in those schools which are at the bottom.

Dr Lunt maintains that the Governments definitions of effectiveness and inclusion are too narrow and questions its policy to promote the inclusion of children with special needs within mainstream schools wherever possible. The issues associated with inclusion are far more complex than is widely appreciated. "Some people are ideologically in favour of inclusion, but we would urge caution on this. Inclusion should be about meeting the needs of all pupils effectively."

"Although many LEA stake holders favour the principle of inclusion, there remains confusion about what this means. Commonly, it is seen as moving students from special to mainstream schools, even though evidence suggests such students often remain relatively isolated within mainstream settings."

Department for Education and Employment, Research Report 91

"During one Baker Day, I had the privilege of visiting the Alderman Knight School at Tewkesbury. The whole school was a revelation to me of the real world of catering properly for these special children. A very basic building housed a a school where every child was valued and encouraged over the smallest achievement. The staff were and I'm sure still are dedicated to their work. The whole atmosphere was of happiness and purpose.

How I wished I had continued my training in SEN and could work in such a school. How different from my daily struggle to support children that I saw for a few minutes about twice a week. With only a few years to retirement, I had to carry on working in poor conditions, doing the best I could.

Back in the classroom these children spent most of their time competing with pupils more able than themselves, often becoming disheartened when they realised they were unable to attain the same standards.

Keep the special schools! We need them!

P. Davis, SEN Support Teacher in Gloucestershire Mainstream Schools for 24 years, Letter to The Gloucester Citizen 17/3/2000

At The Heart of Special Education

The NUT has made it clear to Government that it sees a continuing and important role for special schools in the wide range of local authority provision, that should be made available for pupils with special educational needs.

National Union of Teachers (22/03/00)

Government’s social inclusion policy is letting youngsters down, say teachers

Teachers are worried the Government’s social inclusion policy is doing more harm than good to youngsters with emotional or behavioural difficulties because schools have not been provided with the necessary specialist support or training to assist them.

As delegates assemble for the third day of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers’ (ATL) annual conference in Belfast, one of the issues to be debated today is the effect of inclusive education on mainstream schools.

The Association is particularly concerned that, in a recent poll of ATL branch secretaries representing 31 local education authorities, three in four (77 per cent) said they did not receive adequate support for dealing with excluded pupils and pupils at risk of exclusion. Almost a similar number (71 per cent) said they do not receive help with handling violent, abusive, persistently disruptive pupils or those who bully other pupils. What is especially alarming is that more than half the teachers (54 per cent) said they do not receive help in dealing with youngsters who have committed criminal offences.

Reports of a decline in the number of teachers specifically devoted to pastoral care appears to manifest itself in the significant lack of help for pupils with family difficulties (58 per cent), drug-related problems (52 per cent), and those affected by traumatic experiences such as refugees (58 per cent). Even pupils with special educational needs (SEN) are reported being denied sufficient support. Forty-five per cent of respondents said that having registered SEN pupils in their class did not necessarily qualify them for additional support

Peter Smith, general secretary of ATL, said:“Teachers recognise their social responsibilities but there is a limit to what they can do to. As one teacher commented, there is an urgent need for specialist training for teachers and learning support assistants on how to deal with the new types of pupils they are encountering.

“Although teachers believe that the rights of the child should be recognised, it has got to the point where they are scared to help in case it may result in claims against them. The increase of false allegations made against teachers has led to a noticeable increase in the number of calls to ATL from members requesting our help.

“Teachers do believe social inclusion is a good thing but they want to make sure youngsters get the proper specialist support that they are entitled to.”

Note : The poll was conducted in March/April 2000 of 31 ATL branch secretaries representing 31 local education authorities. Details of the survey can be obtained from the ATL press office on request.

Association of Teacher's and Lecturer's Press Release - 19 April 2000

ATL president outlines the ‘to teach or not to teach’ dilemma of inclusive schooling

Jennifer Bangs, president of the 150,000-strong Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), will highlight the professionalism of teachers in working hard to ensure all youngsters get a high standard education. However, Ms Bangs is warning the Government that its social inclusion policy presents teachers with a moral dilemma of teaching disruptive youngsters when it affects the education of other pupils in their care. She is also concerned that insufficient funding is provided to help youngsters who need additional support.

In her speech to ATL’s annual conference in Belfast today, Jennifer Bangs will talk of the valuable time and energy spent by teachers on dealing with disruptive pupils and how this is detracting from their main priority: teaching. She highlights the fact that teachers in several schools have had to resort to industrial action ballots because of particularly disruptive and violent youngsters. She will also urge the Government to implement, as a matter of urgency, a four-point plan drawn up ATL to help schools manage inclusive education more effectively.

Ms Bangs will launch a strong attack on Government and other officials who claim that exclusion rates are at an all-time low while ignoring the fact that this ‘success’ is due to the “hour upon hour of energy-draining, confidence-sapping work that goes into containing and maintaining those youngsters whose behaviour is persistently anti-social.” She continues that teachers “who actually have to cope with disruption, aggression and violence day in, day out are little consoled to learn that they are in the minority.”

ATL will publish a four-point plan for inclusive education to the conference which includes:

A clear focus on behaviour management in initial teacher training.

Earmarked funding in the 2000-2001 Standards Fund for INSET in behaviour management.

Funding for early intervention strategies aimed at the under fives
(too much of the current focus is on secondary pupils – often too late).

Devolution of LEA funding to allow for locally based inclusion centres providing support services to schools on a locally agreed basis.

Association of Teacher's and Lecturer's Press Release - 19 April 2000



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