Transfer to Secondary School
In Shropshire the inclusion policy has already lead to the closure of many special schools. For children with complex learning difficulties at Longmeadow School who have now reached secondary school age this is proving a worrying time. Although Longmeadow is a mainstream primary school, these pupils have received the bulk of their lessons within the security of an attached unit. The parents were very pleased with this arrangement believing their children had benefited from being involved in the social life of the school, whilst academic work was tailored to their abilities and needs. They had hoped that a similar type of provision would be available at secondary level within one of the secondary schools in the area and were assured it would be. Now the LEA is insisting that ‘inclusive’ mainstream education is the only option.
Parents had little option, but to accept the assurances that “school placements would support the needs of the child” and “catchment areas did not apply to this group of children.” This was a relief as “in most cases, parents consider that the nearest local or ‘catchment area’ school is totally inappropriate and not necessarily the best option for their child.” Again they have been betrayed, some parents have received ‘Draft’ amended statements that, against the wishes and preferences of the parents, designate a placement at the nearest local school or school attended by siblings. Others have simply been told “discussions are on-going with Secondary schools” regarding placement.
None of the parents are satisfied that the level of support that their children will receive has been qualified or quantified in their amended statements. They argue that “If inclusion is going to have any chance of succeeding, the children are going to need an even higher level of experienced quality support in the totally different environment of a mainstream Secondary school. With appropriate support the children will continue to develop to the best of their ability reducing costs to society in the future. Parents are concerned that, in many cases, highly experienced and quality support appropriate to the needs of the children is not available at Secondary level; many of the children will require adult support and supervision for most if not all of the school day.”
Is it any wonder that these parents are now considering legal action?