Exclusion with Inclusion? How can we tell the difference?

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If you are reading this, my guess is that you believe in inclusive education for all children and young people, however how do we know when inclusion becomes exclusion? To achieve inclusion in an inclusive setting, is educating a child outside of the classroom necessary? When and if it happens what stops it from turning into another form of exclusion?

As a blind person who went to a mainstream school, I was told that for my benefit, I would have to spend several hours outside of a mainstream classroom to learn braille, or when that was accomplished it was to catch up on other work I may have not finished in class, or I was told I could not take part in classes such as graphics, PE or textiles. Then later on, the excuse for having to have lessons outside the classroom was the need for additional time to catch up with work from other subjects that I did not have time to complete in the lesson. Looking back, it may have been beneficial to me to learn braille separate from my classmates, however I hated being away from the rest of the class for hours at a time. When does this stop from becoming beneficial to the student and actually more like segregation?

I am aware that for some children or young people, having access to a sensory/quiet room is essential and this should be provided when necessary. However, I have also heard of cases where children with learning difficulties spend most of the school day away from their classmates because it is supposedly more productive for them as well as the other children in the class for them to be educated outside of the classroom. Is it really easier to educate a child with learning difficulties outside of their classroom or is it just another example of segregation? To what extent should we be encouraging children to spend more time in the classroom if being educated separately is more beneficial to them?

It is common for children in mainstream schools to be excluded from active subjects such as PE as it is felt by the school that including them may be dangerous plus it would be more productive for them to follow their own programme which may include some sort of physiotherapy. In some cases this may be beneficial, however is it not possible to include some sporting activities in the mainstream programme so the disabled child does not necessarily need to be segregated? Who should decide if teaching a child separately is beneficial to them?

I understand that in this blog, all I have done is ask questions and have not attempted to give answers to any of the points raised. I would be interested to hear what others think about this issue as we are all campaigning for inclusive education, but how are we achieving inclusion when the child is not actually included? And when do we know if it is actually beneficial for the child or if it is segregation just dressed in a different style?

Lucia, ALLFIE Trustee

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