Kritiek op inclusief
onderwijs in Engeland= falend systeem: vier berichten
Special needs pupils are suffering from inclusion
By Baroness Warnock 2007
In 1978, I led a committee whose findings formed the basis for the special needs education system we still have today. Given that many of the special schools of the time were outdated and ineffective, we proposed that disabled pupils should, where appropriate, be integrated into mainstream schools - the policy that is now known as inclusion.
But something has gone wrong. The ideology of inclusion has been taken too far, without much thought about whether mainstream schools can actually manage the children who they are supposed to educate. Thanks largely to the disability lobby's belief that it is the right of every child to be educated in a mainstream setting, we are burdened with a system in which the needs of children, and the wishes of parents, are in danger of being trampled underfoot.
There has of course been considerable growth and improvement in special schooling recently. But the problem is that this tends to help children with very severe disabilities, both mental and physical. The more severe and obvious the disability is, the better the care, which is of course a good thing. But there is one group in particular which has seen the special schools which used to cater for them close - those with what are now called moderate learning disabilities.
These are children whose disabilities are not as visible: children with psychological difficulties, or autism, or Asperger's syndrome. There are far more of them than there were in the 1970s - one in five children of school age has some form of special needs - but they are also the worst served, because it looks, on the face of it, as if they ought to manage perfectly well alongside their contemporaries.
Yes, there are lots of disabled children who can be quite well catered for in mainstream schools - and it's much better for them if they are. But for others, a mainstream school is the worst kind of setting, because it's much too big: they can't take all the jostling and hustling and rushing from one place to another, or process all the sensory data that's flying at them. Asperger's pupils find other children very difficult to cope with - and the other children have problems with them in turn. So they can't make social contact with their teachers of their peers, and have an absolutely hellish time. And after they become unmanageable at school, they are sent home, and become unmanageable there.
These children should be going to small schools that know and cater for them - and nobody knows this better than their parents. Parents are so much better placed then anyone else to know the needs of their child, and what they can't put up with. So they should be given the choice of where to send their children - if a private school is more suitable, or a child would benefit greatly by boarding, then the parents should pay what they can and the local authority should support them, in a similar system to the means-tested direct grant that worked so well years ago.
I know so many parents whose children have become completely distraught at school, because they have been forced to go to somewhere that isn't suitable for them. The system should be determined by the needs of children, not the dogma of inclusion - and it is parents who are best placed to determine those needs.
Baroness Warnock chaired the UK's committee of inquiry into special education, which reported in 1978mmm
*Bericht 1. inclusion=
illusion, confusion, delusion Dr Rachel V. Gow
Special educational needs: The current miserable state of
In 2008, The Bow
Group published a report titled SEN: The Truth about Inclusion. In my
opinion, their report provides a firm rationale for a renewed government
inquiry into the current miserable state of affairs in relation to the
exclusion of children with special educational needs in England. This next
section provides a summary of their findings but for a more comprehensive
overview of their report please refer to the link provided in the footnote
Lets first begin by
briefly uncovering some of the history surrounding the educational provision of
children with special educational needs (SEN). In 1978, Baroness Warnox wrote a
highly influential report highlighting the unjustified marginalization of
children with SEN. Up until this point, children with SEN had been treated as
if they were some type of social pariahs. The Warnock report argued for the
inclusion of children with SEN into mainstream society in every way.
Taking the content of
this report into consideration, a short time later the Conservative government
enforced this aim for inclusion into robust legislation the Education Act
(1981). This act entitled children with SEN to appropriate educational
provision; for the first time these childrens specific needs were
safe-guarded. The act enabled the evaluation of the child in a series of stages
starting with a statutory assessment and ultimately leading to the allocation
of a statement of special educational needs. A statement is a legally binding
document which makes clear the childs needs, appropriate provision and
placement which a local education authority (LEA) is then legally bound to put
During the 1990s the
Government went one step further and gave children with special educational
needs an entitlement to attend mainstream education if appropriate and parents
the right to appeal to a SEN tribunal. There was now a formal Code of Practise
which served as guidance to both the Local Authorities and schools on how to
govern the process.
However, in 2001
under the rule of New Labour, a new Education act made a quantum leap:The
starting point is always that children who have statements will receive
mainstream education. (Inclusive Schooling Guidance, 2001, paragraph 22).
The new legislation
now insisted that children with SEN must be educated in mainstream schools
unless overwhelming evidence was provided to the contrary. This evidence was
based on two points:
1.Whether the child would disproportionately disrupt the
rest of the class.2.Whether it was cost efficient. Arguably, the act was also
open for misinterpretation by local education authorities who perceived it as
an obligation to educate children with SEN in mainstream schools. The act also
had the additive benefit of potentially saving substantial amounts of money for
LEA budgets. It also meant that the childs needs assumed secondary importance
and that parents had to now battle for the recognition of their childs needs.
In 1997, the number of children in the U.K. in maintained
special schools was 93, 020 and in non-maintained: 5,230 so a total of 98,250
children. In 2007, the figures reduced dramatically to 84,680 in maintained
schools, 4720 in non-maintained schools with a total figure of 89, 410
children. Somehow a total of 8,840 places have been lost over the course of
that decade alone. We have witnessed not only a reduction in the issuing of
statements but also an increase in the number of statemented pupils in
mainstream schools as a direct result of the closure of special schools.
Bear in mind, children without a statement cannot get a
place at a special school and therefore have no legal entitlement to
appropriate educational provision or support. Non-statemented students are
ordinarily divided into 2 categories:
2.School action (this
is the lesser need category and gives the child extra attention +
help).2.School action plus (external help is given in the form of therapy or
extra tuition).In primary schools in 2003 there were 475,290 students on School
Action and 209,810 on School Action Plus. In Secondary schools, these figures
equated to 308,870 and 121,210 respectively. In 2007, there was a 36% increase
in the number of students receiving School Action plus in Secondary school
alone bringing the figure to 165, 120.
Persistent fixed-term exclusions and permanent exclusions
may result in the inappropriate placement of a child with SEN into a pupil
referral unit (PRU). PRUs can be considered as the last chance saloon and
reserved for those children thought to be uneducable in mainstream schools. In
2006, Ofsted identified PRUs as the least appropriate place for children with
SEN to be educated. The original aim of PRUs was to reintegrate children back
into mainstream school if the behaviour of the child improved. However, the
referral to a PRU can also result in the complete breakdown of a students
education and worse still increase the risk of exposure to gang affiliation and
more serious anti-social and criminal behaviour. The problem is that PRUs were
never designed to cater for children with SEN and the number of suspensions
given to SEN children in PRUs arguably highlights their complete inability to
cope and meet their specific and complex needs. There is enough evidence to
suggest that the placement of children with SEN in PRUs is a complete failure
of the government to fulfil a commitment or responsibility to these children.
It is arguably wholly inappropriate and must be re-considered with better care
Not so fun facts and figures
Approximately 9000 places at special schools have been
lost.The number of statements and statutory assessments for children with SEN
has fallen by over one-third.
In relation to truancy, children on School Action Plus
schemes are twice as likely as other SEN children to truant.1/5 of all School
Action Plus children are persistent truants.
In relation to exclusions, children with special educational
needs comprise the majority of all pupils expelled (permanently excluded) from
school at 67% although they only make-up 17% of the school population.Children
with SEN are more likely to be suspended more than once a year. Out of the 78,
600 students excluded more than once in a single year, just under 50% were
students with SEN.
In 2008, over 50% of all suspensions from secondary schools
were students with SEN.In 2008, over 50% of students suspended from pupil
referral units (PRUs) nearly 3/4 s were children with SEN.
66% of all SEN students at PRUs end up being suspended.The
education of SENs students in PRUs has risen by 70% since 1997.Over 50% of
all appeals are against a LEAs decision not to assess or statement a child.
The statistics are
appalling and quite frankly an embarrassment in this modern day and age given
all the knowledge we have about the impact and enormity of educational failure.
It seems very little is being done to address this miserable state of affairs.
An urgent independent review of the entire system is long overdue and warrants
immediate investigation. We cannot continue setting children with special
educational needs up to fail. The burden of this failure is huge and the
implications are far and wide beyond the devastating effects to both the
individual and their families but are evident from a socio-economic, medical
and psychological perspective. We only have to refer to the clinical research
which now confirms that an estimated 50% of all incarcerated adults meet
diagnostic criteria for ADHD. This is ultimately a very real end point of
educational failure, of not meeting the childs needs; a PRU to prison
trajectory when the reality is that the entire situation is so utterly
preventable. Much better investment needs to go into prevention and research.
We need to be much more accountable in recognizing that these children are
arguably being set up to fail.
The answer is a
professional re-evaluation of the current situation which ultimately
necessitates a paradigm shift in the way we think about the education of these
young people. The result of exhaustive investigations has to be updated
policies. It seems that some policy makers in the U.K. are so out of touch with
the reality of this failing system. A new model of education needs to be
implemented; there is no doubt that it is time for change.
*Berucht 2: Inclusion,
inclusion, inclusion = illusion
It seems the general consensus is that 1 child cannot take
precedence over another 29, it is better to side-line 1 child than risk the
others failing too. However, an important point is that about 1 in 5 children
in an average class today are now estimated to have some type of special
educational need (defined here as: emotional, behavioral, specific learning
difficulties e.g., reading/writing etc, linguistic e.g., non-English speaking,
health/medical, physical e.g., dysphasia, mobility) so that equates to approximately
6 children in a class of 30. If there are 4 classes in the average Year (UK) or
Grade (US) that is 24 children with special educational needs multiply that
by the number of total number of classes in each Year or Grade in the entire
school well you can do the maths but put it this way enough kids to fill a
small school of its own (estimated total children with SEN in a U.K. school
with an intake of 120 children per year (4 classes x 30 children): 168 in a
Secondary school; 144 in a Primary school; 312 in an all-through school, that
is Infant and Primary combined). In England, our ex-Prime Minister Tony Blair
was very determined to push his Inclusion, inclusion, inclusion policies
forward. The 3 words that spring to my mind in respect to this policy were more
along the lines of illusion, confusion, delusion and I will explain why.
Arguably, the notion of integrative inclusion was the
rationale also behind closing or terminating funding for a large number of
government funded special education schools. Not surprising multiple and
complex issues arose as a result of this change which will not be critiqued
here because they deserve much closer and more detailed attention than I can
give. But, in brief, issues related to League Tables and more critically the
rapid creation of rather large Assessment and Learning centres which in fact
were somehow allowed even though they went against everything the bill was
designed to achieve. Essentially, they re-created a type of social segregation
system; one which separated those with special educational needs from the rest
of the school on the basis they needed specialized intervention. Even more
ironically was the promise of re-integration into the main school which was
distastefully used as the carrot on the end of the stick. Arguably, as a means
of coercing the child in question to achieve better standards of behaviour
such as learning to control those ADHD symptoms.
Of course, the inclusion changes by Blair forced many
children with special educational needs into mainstream schools where arguably
the majority of them struggled to cope. It would be interesting to calculate
the exact number of children with special educational needs who were
permanently excluded during this period (roughly 1997 to 2007). Some schools
remained, in particular, for those considered intellectually disabled, in
other words, those with IQs around or lower than 70. The only other option for
parents were places at private day or residential schools which unless you were
self-funded required a statement and more often than not a tribunal. However,
attendance at some of these private residential schools arguably created an
altogether different situation. Some of them appeared to operate in a business
sense, ad libitum to cherry pick boarders by way of interview and then exclude
those that proved too burdensome. Unfortunately, not all these schools
specialized in one specific type of learning difference or diagnosis e.g.,
dyslexia. It is surprisingly uncommon in the U.K., although some do exist, to
find private schools focusing simply on for example just ADHD. In fact, some
schools wont take children with ADHD opting instead for a focus on diagnoses
which are arguably less behaviourally challenging such as Dyslexia. While other
private specialist schools will group children with Autistic Spectrum Disorders
together with children with language processing difficulties, dyslexia,
Tourettes syndrome or ADD and the result is often unmanageable chaos and an
increased risk of permanent exclusion for some. This brings us back to the
square peg / round hole situation. Another valid point is that teachers are not
psychologists nor are they expected to be yet the amount of special
educational needs training they receive in the U.K. is arguably miniscule
compared, for example, to the U.S. where special education is highly developed
in universities and results in specialist qualifications and a higher volume of
*Bericht 3: Special-needs
education: Does mainstream inclusion work?
Labour wants children with learning difficulties to attend
mainstream schools. But critics say that the policy of inclusion isn't working.
Hilary Farr Wilce investigates a very political issue
David Cameron has a disabled son, and speaks up about it.
Tony Blair was angrily confronted recently by Maria Hutchins, the mother of an
autistic child. Baroness Warnock has been beating her breast about getting the
policy wrong on special-needs education. Never have the needs of children with
physical and learning difficulties been so much in the political spotlight.
All parties made a commitment to improving services to such
children in their general election manifestos; the Conservatives have set up a
commission on special educational needs; and the Commons education select
committee is sinking under record piles of paperwork as it conducts a
wide-ranging enquiry into the future of special-needs education.
But whether anything productive will come of it all remains
doubtful. Observers say that problems with the current system are deeply
entrenched, and they fear that more will be thrown up by the Government's plan
to establish independent secondary schools that will be able to select their
Meanwhile, "special needs" remains a vast umbrella,
under which huddle all kinds of children, from the primary-school pupil with a
mild hearing problem, to profoundly autistic adolescents and children with
complex physical disabilities. "Special needs is just an administrative
category," says Alan Dyson, professor of education at Manchester
University, who has a specialist interest in the area. "The only thing
these kids have in common is that they've been labelled special needs."
The groups fighting for their interests are equally
disparate. Parents of children with difficulties are desperate for their own
particular child to be safe and happy in school. Every disability group fights
its own corner, while broader lobby groups tend to adopt strongly ideological
positions about how society should treat difference.
This shows most strongly in the arguments about inclusion.
Labour is committed to a policy of including as many children as possible in
mainstream schools, and 93 special schools have closed down since l997. This is
broadly in line with policies embraced throughout the Western world. But many
of those children have been inadequately provided for, and as a result the
pendulum has swung back towards demands for more special-school provision.
Last summer, Baroness Warnock, whose report in 1978 started
the bandwagon for inclusion, said the policy had backfired, leaving "a
disastrous legacy", and the Conservatives have called on the select
committee to look into "the bias against allowing parents to choose
But Richard Reiser, the director of Disability Equality in
Education, is dismissive of the way the select committee's enquiry has been
launched in response to the Warnock U-turn. "This isn't even an issue any
more. The question is not whether to include children, but how to do it effectively.
You need inclusions, not placements, and for that you need more resources, more
training and a mandatory code of admissions.
"Disadvantaged children should be given priority above
all others. That would be the way to change the skew we have now. And there
should be a limit on the use of special schools in any area. Some areas use
them 10 times more than others," Reiser says.
Sir Bob Balchin, chair of the Tory enquiry into special
education, disagrees. "The ideology of inclusion ought to be consigned to
history. We need to look at the whole thing in a more pragmatic light. Some
people gain enormously from having their needs met in a specialised
environment." A forthcoming report from the enquiry team, he says, is
likely to suggest a moratorium on the closure of special-school places.
"Although that is not to say that every special school is sacrosanct. We
need to put the individual before doctrine."
For Brian Lamb, who chairs the Special Educational Needs
Consortium, the issue is how to make the best use of all resources. "We
basically back the Government's presumption towards the mainstream. It is the
direction everything has been moving in.
"What we want to see is more resources going into
special education and a closer inter-relationship between special schools and
mainstream schools, with more use of specialist expertise, and maybe regional
specialist resources." Inclusion, done properly, is expensive, Lamb
agrees, "But special schools are expensive, too. The more we can get the
two worlds together, the better."
Peter Farrell, professor of special needs at Manchester
University, sees the Government jumping in response to a strong parents' lobby
that says inclusion doesn't work. "But there have been a lot of myths
about how special schools are very special, with more one-to-one and so on,
with not a lot of evidence that that is the case. What there is evidence of is
that if children with special needs mix with others, it helps to make people in
society more accepting of difference."
A second thorny issue is whether to reform the way
children's special needs are identified and supported. Everyone agrees that the
system of statementing, and the appeal system that backs it up, are
bureaucratic, time-consuming and geographically inequitable. Both systems tend
to favour articulate parents who know their rights.
There are also deep concerns that some local authorities are
making statements deliberately vague, in order to evade having to pay for
The Conservatives want to replace statements with a
simplified profile system, which will assign a child one of 12 levels of
additional provision, and allow parents to take that money to whichever school
they deem right for their child. "We need to look again at the whole
process," says Sir Bob Balchin. "At the moment it is far too
adversarial. In our view, it ought to be taken out of the hands of local education
authorities who are both the assessors and providers."
But many lobby groups see the system as important for
protecting a child's rights and want to reform it, not scrap it. The Advisory
Centre on Education, which advises 6,000 parents a year about their rights, told
the select committee: "Problems with the system arise from
maladministration of the system rather than the system itself, which we believe
was ahead of its time."
"The select committee is wrestling with a whole lot of
deep-seated issues," says Alan Dyson, pointing out that the system of
providing for children with special needs has remained fundamentally unchanged
since the mid-1970s. "The Government's main priority since then has been
not to turn over too many stones. There aren't any votes in reforming special
education, after all. But what we have now is an education system with
different structures, targets, curriculum, everything. We have to fundamentally
rethink what we mean by special education, and I would hope the committee would
come out at the end and say that fiddling with the system is no longer an
"In an ideal world, special education would not be a
distinct system at all, but just part of an education system that gives due
consideration to all sorts of kids, with all sorts of difficulties, in all
sorts of schools."
But this looks unlikely to come about. "The Education
Bill is talking about more schools getting more autonomy," Dyson says.
"The local authorities will be left with the responsibility for special
needs provision, but they will have no power and no resources. It is,
potentially, an absolutely unmanageable system."
The best of both worlds?
Peter Gordon runs Hazel Court school, a special school in
Eastbourne for children with severe learning difficulties - 70 per cent of
pupils are autistic - on the same site as a mainstream school. He also runs a
further education unit for 16- to 19-year-olds alongside a local FE college.
He believes his students get the best of both worlds.
"We've got specialised staff and superb facilities here. We've got a
hydrotherapy pool and a soft play area, but we've also got access to two dining
halls, an assembly hall, sports facilities and the library in the mainstream
"Half our children go to some lessons in the mainstream
school, and loads of their youngsters come over to us every day to help with
classes. They look at what our children achieve, and learn to have respect for
them. This is quite a deprived part of Eastbourne, but we've never had one
incident of bullying. We share the same uniform and we join in on school trips.
"There is a
strong argument for having children with moderate difficulties in mainstream
schools, but the curriculum needs to be totally different for children with
severe difficulties. I've seen children stuck in a classroom, isolated, where
staff have no support and can't call in a psychologist or language therapist.
It's heart-breaking. You do need specialised provision, but co-location is
definitely the best way to do it.
Conservative Party 2010 manifesto: The most vulnerable children deserve the very highest quality of care, so we will call a moratorium on the ideologically-driven closure
of special schools. We will end the bias
towards the inclusion of children with
special needs in mainstream schools
Bericht 5 Belangrijk
boek voor M-decreet-debat: Special Educ. Needs: new look Mary Warnock e.a
Warnock (2005: 36-38), de vroegere pleitbezorgster van
radicaal inclusie onderwijs, bekende in 2005 dat zij en haar commissie zich in
1978 deeerlijk hadden vergist. In een
rapport van 2005 maakte zij een onderscheid between
the physical and emotional participation. She argues that many children with
severe learning problems, while undoubtedly a physical presence in mainstream
classrooms, do not feel that they are full participants. This may be brought
about by the behaviour of other pupils (through various forms of bullying) or
by the treatment they receive.They may, for example be excluded from various curriculum
activities, and/or arrangements of within-class grouping may restrict their
opportunities for interaction with the teacher rather than a classroom helper.