Accessibility options: Default text size Larger Text size Largest text size Black text on yellow background Black text on pink background Dark blue text on light blue background Default colour scheme White text on black background scheme Text Only

donate button


Inclusion Now Articles Issue 15

You MUST ask us for permission before copying any article from this archive.

Bishops Park College - A 'Human Scale' Secondary School

UN Convention Signs Up to Inclusion

Do You Remember Beslan? Era of inclusion begins following the 2004 siege

Young Voices - Higher Education students talk about their inclusion

Special versus Mainstream - One parent reconsiders with hindsight

Heading for Inclusion - National Conference of 'Inclusive' Headteachers

Education & Skills Commitee Report - Experiences of inclusion ignored

OFSTED 'Reports' - Resourced Mainstream schools 'outstanding'

All Wales People First - New Manifesto calls for inclusion

In Brief - NUT 'Counting the Cost of Inclusion'

In Brief - New post 16 duties from September 1st.


Bishops Park College - A School of the Future?

One of the most compelling arguments for special schools is the recognition that huge secondary schools with 1000 - 2000 pupils are too impersonal and overwhelming for many young people, especially those with learning or emotional difficulties. Baroness Warnock used this problem to justify her call to rebuild special schools which she sees as the only way to provide such young people with a sense of belonging. However, the Human Scale Education Movement has shown how ordinary State Schools can be re-structured, or built, to answer this problem without returning to the problems caused by segregation. We went to visit a ground breaking example on the east coast
of England.

"Here in Clacton we are in one of the most deprived wards in Essex. The school was designed to alleviate problems elsewhere, for example we have twenty 'looked after' children."
Mike Davies, the Principal went on to explain: "We started with 300 pupils in a temporary building that had mould on the floor and a sailcloth roof that let the snow in. However, we built a wonderful sense of community there - a sense of belonging.
The children were involved in the design of the new school, outside and in, within the same budget as building any other school. We bought in artists to help make their ideas a reality. The school is divided into three separate schools built around a central atrium. The inner circle has a number of shared rooms including technology and music rooms. The rest of the spaces are as flexible as they can be with different sized spaces and moving walls. The central space is used as a dining room, assembly hall and for staging concerts and plays.

There is no central staff room, but a series of staff bases linked to student reception areas. Each school has its own School Leader drawing from a pool of 'Advanced Teachers'. They follow the national curriculum goals but within that structure each school is free to design its own timetable, groupings, and styles of teaching - mostly in teams.

Our principles are that no child should be taught by more than seven teachers in a week, and no teacher should teach more than 80/90 students in one week. This is to allow relationships to develop. There are no bells or whistles and lessons are not of a uniform length. On Fridays there is a master class, sticking to one subject in depth for the whole day. On Wednesday afternoons there are no classes. Instead they have a wide variety of clubs to choose from including camping skills, physical activities and the arts. Each half term they have three faculty days to pursue a particular topic or line of enquiry. This will involve three teachers and support staff working with a group of 60/70 young people drawn from across year groups."

The school believes profoundly in the concept of community. This is clearly evident from the moment you enter the main reception building. You see the reception desk before you and to the right spreads the school library which is open to the public. Students are at all the desks. Leading off to the left organ music is coming from the rooms used by the local elderly people's centre and behind that lies the local nursery. Students are involved as volunteers in both groups to the benefit of all. Notices on the walls indicate how many activities are organised within the school for the local community.

The school is a full-service school. Lying in an area of high deprivation some extra resources were made available for a multi-agency team led by Georgina Williams-Wright to work with families from Bishops Park College and its' six feeder schools. They have family liaison workers, mental health support, a nurse, learning mentors and an outdoor activities worker. Their brief is inclusion and lifelong learning. Georgina said "Many of our parents have not had good experience of school themselves so it is important that we reach out to them and help them to feel welcome".

They do not deny the real problems that are within their community, including drugs and teenage pregnancies. A very proactive approach is taken by the team to increase students' awareness and to date there have been no student pregnancies at the school. Many students at Bishops Park have been school refusers or have been excluded from other schools. Because of the child-centred atmosphere and the level of respect they are afforded, the young people start wanting to come to school.

The College does not permanently exclude anyone. If difficulties arise which require short term exclusions, they use the time to plan a support strategy to prevent the situation repeating itself.

Ben Lloyd, Jamie Porter, Taylor Lynch and Cheri Clark came to speak to us about their experience of the school. They were very positive about the ethos of the school, the relaxed atmosphere and the 'laid-back' teachers - "They don't pick at everything." They said they liked what they experienced as a lack of hierarchy between staff and pupils, the sports facilities and the flexibility of the curriculum. One girl reinforced the opinion of the Head when she said that it was not the new building which made the school good. She remembered the old temporary buildings with nostalgia - "I had my first injection there!" Their complaints were about the problem of having friends in different 'schools' and the lack of parallel break times. The Head said he was trying to think of a way around this.

Some students have transferred to Bishops Park from a local special school which has closed down in Essex's re-organisation of SEN provision. One such student, Jamie, said that although there were good things about his special school, he had more friends at Bishops Park. Some of the vocational ASDAN courses familiar to those in special schools are being introduced into the curriculum at Bishops Park, as are courses in life skills for any young person who needs them. They have a bungalow in which daily living skills can be practiced.

We were shown round the school by students Katy Dent and Natalie Betts with Karen Hancock who was the first Learning Mentor at the school. They were happy to tell us what they thought about the school and how different it was to other schools they had been in.

Every part of the college is wheelchair friendly with two lifts and accessible toilets and showers. However, they do not currently have any teachers or students who need these facilities. They are hoping word will get round to local families who may not yet be aware that the school could accommodate children and parents with physical access needs. The new buildings have only been open for two years.

Mike Davies has always worked in interesting and challenging places. His last school was in rural Scotland, 25 miles away from the next nearest school.
"We took all the local children including those labelled as having 'severe and complex' difficulties. We even had a hydrotherapy pool and other facilities right in the heart of the school."
"In the 1980s I worked in a large school in Milton Keynes which in 1986 we organised into five small 'Halls' with about 500 pupils in each. At the time we linked children with similar needs to a particular school. One was a unit for partially hearing, one for children with emotional and behavioural difficulties, and one for children with severe learning difficulties.
I don't believe in this sort of separation now.
It was part of my history."

"Inclusion is out of favour at the moment" said Mike. "We are seen as the freaks now, but it will swing our way again. The Government are trying to follow two roads at the same time which lead in different directions - the 'Every Child Matters' agenda and the 'Standards' agenda. This causes us problems because there is no well developed method of assessment and accreditation which reflects the values of inclusion and community. We are not here simply to make the child work harder and longer. We are about valuing the whole person for who he or she is. When they spark and take me on, that's what I call success! I am proud to build a full community school removing as many barriers to participation as possible."

Bishops Park College is founded on the principles and ethos of the Human Scale Education Movement. They believe that children's needs are best met and their potential most fully realised in human scale settings. Small classes, small schools and large schools re-structured into small learning communities enable teachers to know their students well. Positive relationships make possible a more holistic approach to learning - engaging head, hand and heart. Such an approach helps young people to understand their role in creating a fairer and more sustainable world.

Human Scale Education,
Unit 8, Fairseat Farm, Chew Stoke,
Bristol BS40 8XF

UN Convention signs up to inclusion

The Agreement on a UN Convention for the Rights of People with Disabilities features an inclusive education system.

After 5 years of negotiations, on Friday 25th August, 118 countries agreed a wording for the Convention on the Rights of people with disabilities. The Convention has to be tidied up and will be adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations (UN) before Christmas. The Convention is comprehensive enumerating rights for disabled people in all aspects of life.

The making of this Convention was unique in that the people it is about were included in drafting it. Over 80 of the state party representatives were disabled people at the last session. In addition were representatives from civil society - Disabled Peoples Organisations (DPO's) and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO's). Over 800 were pre-registered for Ad Hoc 8(the last meeting).

As the representative from BCODP at the last three Ad Hoc Committees I was pleased to work with the states committed to inclusive education and reps of many NGOs including comrades from India, Africa and Latin America and from CSIE and the Alliance to shift the position on education from a 'choice' of segregation or mainstream to an inclusive education system.

This was argued about at each of the last three committees and as the convention has to be agreed by consensus of all countries was a truly amazing transformation of many views. Last to agree was China.
Article 24 commits State Parties to ensure an inclusive education system at all levels for disabled people to develop their talents, personality, creativity, physical and mental abilities to their fullest potential and:

That disabled people should not be excluded from the general education system - primary or secondary.
(This is defined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child as the mainstream system)

That disabled people can access inclusive quality free primary and secondary education on an equal basis with others in the communities in which they live.

That disabled people receive reasonable accommodations and the support required within the general education system to facilitate effective education.

That effective individualized support measures are provided in environments that maximize academic and social development consistent with the goal of full inclusion.

The Article goes on to highlight that blind, deaf and deaf blind people should be taught in appropriate languages and modes in environments which maximize academic and social achievement. There is an ongoing debate about whether this is inclusive schools or separate units etc. For this reason it was not possible to get rid of environments or get a commitment to end segregation.

However, Article 24 provides strong support in the struggle for inclusive education around the world and here in the UK.

There were four side events which all supported the development of inclusive education and we are setting up an international e-mail group to support each other in developing inclusive education. What was remarkable was the enthusiasm for developing inclusive education from South Africa, Panama, Italy, UK or USA and the clarity and strength of the voices of young disabled people on this issue.

The full text of the Convention is downloadable from:
Richard Rieser
Disability Equality in Education

Do You Remember Beslan - How Easily We Can Forget!

In a Russian society with segregation still deeply rooted in it's education system, the aftermath of the Beslan school siege in 2004 created a particular dilemma: How do you include in the new school those children and teachers who acquired impairments during the siege? How this and other dilemma's are being addressed is described here by Joe Whittaker and Lynne Elwell who have both been involved in the development of a strategy for an inclusive school in Beslan.

Beslan the name is bigger than our memory, when trying to locate it in this event filled world. 172 children were killed along side mothers, fathers, grandparents, teachers and friends in the early days of September 2004.

Numbers of children killed can jerk us into an awful remembering. Numbers of miles between us can be filled with other events that shade details. However, for many people in Beslan, the struggle to rebuild and reconnect with a life that once was, before September 2004, has become their reason for being.

Before the attack, disabled children in Beslan were kept separate in special schools or at home, they had no place in ordinary schools. Since the attack, 300 children with a wide range of impairments are coming to expect a place in their locality in their school.

We were invited to Beslan to support the inclusion of disabled children into their school. In the beginning we were breathless to find the words to share with those who experienced the attack. However, Beslan's desire to help create inclusive schools provided us all with a common purpose and opportunities to develop new relationships with the glint of more optimistic futures.

The Beslan experience generated people who were focussed on "HOW" to include all the children into their local school, the question "IF" they should be included did not arise. We in the UK are conditioned to respond to inclusion "one child at a time". In this way we understate the enormity of rejection by segregation for that individual. Beslan has focused a spotlight on a painful collective experience, where the potential rejection by segregation of 300 children from one community cannot be imagined. The lesson we should learn from this horribly exaggerated statistic is that the ways to include all 300 remaining disabled children can be applied to every other child in every other community in any other country. Although the event has amplified the urgency for the implementation of inclusion in Beslan, the segregation of the remaining disabled children, after such a dreadful event, which has already torn so many relationships apart and separated some families from their children forever is now beyond contemplation.

We have made several visits to Beslan with further visits planned. We have been invited to share our own understanding and experiences about the values and the practicalities of inclusive education. It is amazing and refreshing to witness that tired old objections are set aside, when there is a common desire to make inclusion happen. Is there space for a wheelchair? Do we have enough experts? How much is this going to cost? How do we differentiate the science lesson? What special need have they got? Such questions are rendered trivial compared to the enormity of unconditional acceptance. Such questions do tend to be asked by families who are afraid or by people and organisations who, at best are indifferent to inclusion and at worst have a vested interest in maintaining segregation.

People in the UK have asked us: "Why have you been invited to Beslan?", " What can you do?", "What qualifications do you have?" "How can you possibly connect?"

The way we seek to contribute to the families in Beslan is by being, as Micheline Mason would say, 'Incurably Human', by developing relationships where we can be true allies, being with people, making suggestions and learning to listen. Many people in Beslan have actively welcomed our participation, they have welcomed our different language, and they have welcomed our different experiences and different insights, our different approaches. Very quickly we realised that we did not have to justify our presence in this community, we did not have to be told that we were welcome and wanted, we knew it, because we felt it, we felt included.

We intend to build on our relationships with other local primary schools that also want to learn about making inclusive education happen. We strongly hope that inclusion is going to become a schooling experience for all learners in Beslan and hopefully the rest of Russia. However, we are reminded by the discussions at The United Nations in August 06 that despite the much-valued international progress in protecting the Rights of disabled people, there are still mountains to climb and that Inclusion is not about the absence of the struggle but the presence of justice. But when we feel justice - we do know it!
Lynne Elwell and Joe Whittaker.
August 2006.

Young Voices

The Conservatoire of Dance and Drama is a Higher Education Institution consisting of eight small performing arts schools which teach dance, acting, stage management and circus skills at the highest level. Three years ago Lois Keith began a disability project. The target was to improve provision for disabled students at every level - from application through to graduation and into employment. The Conservatoire auditions everyone who applies so it's vital to get the correct support in place at this stage as well as looking at the reasonable adjustments that can be made to teaching and learning so that disabled students are not placed at a disadvantage in relation to their non disabled peers.

Sophie Stone is in her first year of the BA in Acting Degree at RADA.
"My sole aim is to work towards being an actress and not a deaf actress. It's not me being ashamed of my deafness, it's me saying, 'this is what I can do. Is it good enough for you? If it is, take me'."

Aiden O' Reilly is in his second year of the BA in Acting Degree at RADA.
"I think that probably theatre is one of those professions where you can surpass that kind of block that people have with people who are disabled…. You just have to jump in I think and see what happens, cos every person is different and every disability is different."

Stacy Abalogun is in her final year of the BPA (Hons) Degree in Contemporary Dance at NSCD.
"I was only assessed as being dyslexic last year. I didn't know, so I just assumed I was the way I was because I was stupid or something. Ros picked up the signs. She talked me through the process and gave me a lot of support."

Pete Wilmott is in the second year of a 2 Year Diploma in Professional Stage Management at BOVTS.
"I've been wearing hearing aids since I was four…. My experience from my tutors is if you have a problem then definitely go and ask about it. There are plenty of people who will support you and if you haven't heard anything just ask again."

Ira Siobhan is in his final year of the BPA (Hons) Degree in Contemporary Dance at NSCD.
"I've known I was dyslexic since I was about seven years old. I was worried about coming to do the degree course, but they reassured me that there'd be a lot of support and that we could think of ways to work round it…. I fell in love with dance when I was training here."

Nadia Albina is a recent graduate of LAMDA's 2 Year Acting Course BA (Hons) and has begun to work professionally.
"You can always surprise someone by being yourself. If you believe in yourself and you believe that you have something to offer, nothing should stand in your way."

Nick Lawson completed his BA Hons Degree in Contemporary Dance last year and is now in EDge, the school's postgraduate dance company.
"Being dyslexic, I find it hard to express myself, especially in writing and sometimes finding the right words. Dance is another way of expressing who I am as a person."

Lucy Edwards (known to everyone as Ellie) is studying for her 3 Year BA in Professional Stage Management at BOVTS.
"I'm dyspraxic with a strong element of dyslexia… I say, it's up to you whether you want to change your passion into knowledge, or whether you want to keep it locked away in a box."

As part of this project, a beautiful DVD has been produced showing these eight disabled students talking about their experiences and in performance. Copies of the DVD can be purchased from the film-maker Tony Coe. For further details please contact:

As a recent headline article in The Independent newspaper put it: If you have a disability but want to dance, act or follow a career in stage management, don't be deterred. The doors of the Conservatoire for Dance and Drama are now open to all young people with talent and determination.

Reasons for choosing a Conductive Education or Special School over a Mainstream school.... And why we were wrong

One parent reconsiders her choice with the benefit of hindsight

We were afraid of teasing and bullying from other children, that her differences and appearance would make people dehumanise her and that she would be left out and ignored. We were afraid that she would feel the odd one out, that she would feel inadequate because she would not be able to do the same as other children.

Yes she does get looked at strangely by other children at first but she is not bothered by it. Shutting her away makes people more shocked with her disability. We can help her with her appearance by making people aware of her difficulties. We can make a concentrated effort on her hair and clothing and regularly change her funky neckerchiefs. There is less effort made in Special Schools regarding appearance due to the children "all being the same". We have learned that our fears are different to our child's fears, having other children helped teach us this very important lesson. We now know that our child has problems of being ignored and left out in a Special School because the more able children will always get more attention.

We thought that our child would only be excluded in a Mainstream School because
no-one would be able to play with her.

Why we thought that it would be easier for other children to play with her in a school where all the children were in wheelchairs I really don't know!!!! We now know that inclusion for our daughter is not about being able to do the same as others. It is about belonging to her community. She loves being amongst people, especially children. In a Special School with physically disabled children most without speech, she has little or no physical touch from other children and conversation is mostly adult led. In a mainstream setting she could have a circle of support led by children. It would have benefits for all. She now goes to Brownies. We let go and they welcomed her. Everyone is learning.
We chose conductive education because we would not give up on her physically, we thought that there was still a chance of improvement, that in time she may be able to sit up or feed better or even be able to use her hands.

We realise now that there is no miracle cure. The longer we focus on the impossible, the longer we keep our lives and our daughter's on hold. If we concentrate on the small achievable goals we can only enhance her quality of life. Nothing short of a miracle will make her sit, stand, walk, roll or use her hands.

We thought that the conductive education approach would at least keep contractures and operations at bay.

Our daughter had a big operation on her 7th birthday. It was a big turning point for us and the questions came…We know that the programme does not prevent operations, we also know that some of the stretches make her muscles tighter. Her spasticity gets worse with bad positioning, the cold and illness, no matter how much physio she gets at the time. We now look at the bigger picture. What about quality of life? What is really important? Would we like to base most of our lives around medical needs? What are our best memories of school and what did we think we would want in our daughter's position?

We thought that in a Special School, our daughter would be in the best hands regarding knowledge of equipment for sitting, lying and standing.

We now realise there is a big shortage of physiotherapists and occupational therapists and the decent ones are spread very thinly in the country let alone in the schools. We now question some of the equipment that is off the shelf and the type that has been used for years. We are all unique and one size does not fit all!! Standing frames are recommended as weight bearing is good for the hips. What we are not told is how much you have to weight bear to make a difference and is the half hour of discomfort worth it if it is not enough to make a difference.

We also relied on the reassurance that there was good expertise and knowledge around positioning and feeding.

Our daughter was sick constantly for a year after starting at her Special School. When she starting refusing to eat at home we investigated and found a complete lack of knowledge and expertise around feeding. She is now completely tube fed.

We felt that the staff in a well established special school that had worked with many similar children must be the experts.

We now know that all children are unique, no cerebral palsied child is the same so they all need different programmes and goals to meet their individual needs. Person Centred Planning is difficult in a Special School with their conveyor belt system of toileting, feeding, floor programme, sitting programme and not forgetting their token version of the national curriculum. So much unnecessary stuff for our daughter is squeezed into her day which needs to fit around staff breaks and other children's needs. It is not fair to make her sit and watch the other children at lunch time when she cannot eat herself.

We have always believed that communication is most important and we thought that as this school had a good Speech and Language Therapist our daughter would continue with her good progress.

Our daughter has seen this Speech and Language Therapist about 6 times in the last 4 years (spread thinly is not the word!!!). Speech and Language Therapy is only useful if the accessing is concentrated on first. Oromotor skills will not help if speech is unlikely. She needs access practice many times in the day not once a week. Communication does not equal a message on a buddy switch made by someone else in another room!!!!!

We believed that all her needs would be met and that she would get all the relevant therapies.

We now know that not all therapies in a special school are beneficial especially when practiced by untrained people. Some services have to be bought in from other places. Some special schools are great at welcoming different approaches and expertise………..some schools are not! We thought that we chose a school based on most of her needs, we now know these "needs" are based on a medical model statement procedure. The "needs met boxes" are ticked just because of having the correct staff at the school, this doesn't mean that your child necessarily has access to their expertise, certainly not enough anyway. We have started to look at her specific needs and how best to meet them. We have looked at alternative, non invasive, non intrusive therapies to be fitted around or outside hours of national curriculum!!!

We thought that such a nice school with happy smiley children (mainly on visitor days when staff and children were prepared) would have a dream or vision for every child's future and that realistic steps would be planned to achieve maximum independence.

There was no vision for our child. When I asked a headmaster what his goals for children like my daughter were, the answer was "to prepare for the next institution". She was only 4 at the time. We are constantly reminded that our child has "very complex needs". We now realise that our child was not their ideal pupil and that in their efforts of inclusion they felt they could meet her needs. We begged them to be frank with us as it meant a big move. It is extremely difficult for anyone in the early stages to make big decisions like schools and honesty, no matter how painful, can only be the best option. We know there are not a lot of options but Mainstream is the only way for children who will not benefit from special schools. Our dream for our child is to be part of this world as we know it. To smell, hear, see and learn with and like other children in her community.

We thought she would be safer in a Special School.

We now realise that there is more chance of a child being abused in a special school than in an open mainstream school. Our daughter is at a bigger risk because she cannot speak and she is amongst other children who cannot speak. Even when some of these children manage to communicate they are not believed.
Our daughter has five people involved in her care and that is just transport to and from school. Two drivers and three escorts share the job of transporting vulnerable children including my daughter to school. We have twice found that the straps are not connected to the wheelchairs correctly. In the special school staff are hard to get and like most places agency staff are used. It is very hard to come by a good agency worker and they cost an awful lot. Every year foreign students come to work in the school. How many people over and above therapists and transport every year have access to my child??? In a mainstream school she would be surrounded by children who can talk. Five people maximum would be involved in her care and that would include personal care and therapists.
We thought it would be ok to segregate her as she would not know the difference.

Our child is very aware that she goes to a different school to her brothers and her friends at Brownies. Until Brownies she did not get invited out to birthday parties. She does not see her friends out of school. The boarders are not allowed out in the week and go home to far off places at the weekend and at school holidays. The children do not and will not get to know her if she is not included in her local school. These same children without inclusion will become discriminating adults.

We thought that the school would be open to different ideas.

The school has been an institution for years. They have made little effort to include their community in the lives of their children. Any effort made has been mainly for fundraising. Their only focus has been on their 'special' way which they have done for years.

We thought that this special school that had been donated so much money for a special playground would have equipment for all children no matter how severe their disability.

Wrong again!!!! The playground is only accessible to more able children. We have donated a swing for children who cannot sit unsupported. Our child has, along with many other children, been excluded in a Special School.

We thought that there would be support for all parents and that our voices would be heard.

We have had no support from the Special School. There seems to be more support and communication from most mainstream schools for children without disabilities. There is definitely more communication. We have had no support from SCOPE apart from when we got our child into Special School. We understand the financial battles they have. We have some suggestions but we are not welcome as we are seen as too radical because of our views above. What do you think???

First National Conference of Heading for Inclusion

The first national conference of Headteachers who support inclusion was held in Norwich in June 2006. It was initiated and led by Nigel Utton, Chair of Heading for Inclusion. He invited Micheline Mason to give a keynote talk to bring the perspective of disabled people directly to the group.

Nigel said many important things. He said that each and every person there had an essential role in 'inclusion' even if they sometimes felt insignificant. He said that it was like standing close up to an elephant - everyone can reach out and feel a different bit, but it was all elephant. Inclusion is their elephant. Everyone has detailed knowledge of a small part of it. The role of Heading for Inclusion is to help everyone to see the whole animal.

People were invited to tell success stories which were wide and varied. Micheline gave a talk on her perspective of the past, present and future of inclusive education. She encouraged people to move closer together and form a movement to help stem the reactionary voices. She said that those people who support segregated education have had their day. They have tried it for years and it hasn't worked.

Nigel led a session looking at ways in which we adults have been hurt by exclusion and gave a brief explanation of how he has used the tool of Re-Evaluation Counselling to overcome the limiting effects of our past experience on really going for our dream of an inclusive world.

Participants had a chance to share their own experiences of putting inclusion into practice - a totally inspiring piece of the day. One person, Ed, demonstrated his passion on child-to-child massage by teaching everyone to do it to each other.

Break times were a very important part of the day. People could make connections, ask questions and start to build relationships. The day ended with people bursting to share more, and indeed these small presentations will continue in the regular Heading for Inclusion meetings in London. Next year we shall hold a two day conference giving us the time we really need to put inclusion right at the heart of education policy.

If you or someone you know is a Headteacher or senior school leader interested in taking part in Heading for Inclusion please contact Nigel Utton:
or Tara Flood at the Alliance office.
Our next meeting will be held at the Institute of Education from 1 - 4pm on October 6th (meet in the foyer for joint lunch at 12).

Over the summer we have been bombarded by a number of reports which have often confused inclusion with poor examples of integration. Such reports undoubtedly add to the debate but, it is clear that the evidence that supports our calls for inclusion, be it statistical or qualitative, is often ignored in favour of a bias towards the existing system of education rather than taking an opportunity to consider more innovative approaches to an education system that is 'fit for purpose' for ALL learners. Tara Flood from the Alliance and Richard Rieser from Disability Equality in Education give their thoughts on two of the most recent reports.

The Education & Skills Select Committee Report

This is a report that has been broadly welcomed by the Alliance and other members of the Inclusion movement, particularly for the recommendations to review the existing and overly bureaucratic statementing process, better training for teachers, and a focus on pupil-centred planning.

However, the report has effectively ignored the very real and positive experiences of the many disabled children and young people who have had the opportunity to learn alongside their non-disabled peers in mainstream schools. We know that there are some really good examples where schools are successfully delivering inclusion on a daily basis to a diverse pupil community.

It is a fact that those of us working in the inclusion movement, many of whom have had first-hand experience of special schools as pupils, had to fight very hard to have our voices heard, during the evidence gathering process, and we think that the resulting report focuses, too heavily, on the negative experiences of parents and very little regard is given to the examples that the Alliance, DEE and the British Council of Disabled People gave in both their written and oral submissions. The Select Committee talks about 'effective partnership with parents and communities' but, this must take into account the forthcoming public sector duty to promote equality for disabled people, and properly involve disabled children and young people in decision-making. How else will we as a society achieve the government's bold target of true equality for disabled people by 2025?
The Government response to the Education and Skills Select report is due in October but, we hold out little hope for anything too damning and we expect it to support much of what the report suggests, particularly with regard to a 'continuum of flexible provision' which we fear will allow for the segregation of disabled learners to continue and reduce existing inclusion initiatives.
Tara Flood

OFSTED: "Mainstream Does It Better"

A recently published OFSTED report has found that "There was more good and outstanding provision in resourced mainstream schools than elsewhere".

The report, 'Inclusion: Does it Matter Where Pupils are Taught' July 2006* highlights good practice in such schools where disabled pupils, including those with severe and complex impairments and Behavioural, Emotional and Social Needs, make good progress in academic and vocational achievement, personal and social development.

Key factors that underlay this success were:

An inclusive ethos

High expectations of disabled pupils

The effective use of specialist teachers

Planned and monitored use of teaching assistants

Thorough evaluation of pupil learning to direct future teaching

Teachers prepared to take risks in making lessons innovative and interesting

These findings were validated against inspections of 146 other resourced mainstream schools and echo the findings of the 40 mainstream resourced and non-resourced mainstream schools in the Reasonable Adjustments Project** as well as Allfie's 'Snapshots of Possibilities' publication.

This Ofsted report argues that there is no national data that compares progress of disabled pupils in special schools and mainstream schools, but there is information about results. Government data on Key Stage 4 GCSE and Vocational Qualifications is very clear. It shows a 9 fold difference in outcome for pupils with a statement of SEN between 'Special' and 'All' schools.

Fig. 1 GCSE/Vocational Qualification at end KS 4 2005

% 5 A*-C % Any Pass % No Pass

Special School 0.8% 75.9% 24.1%

All Statemented 7.2% 80.6% 19.4%

DfES Statistics Achievements GCSE 2005-Jan 2006 & June 2006.

How the special needs of disabled pupils are addressed in mainstream schools varies a great deal. Therefore OFSTED inspectors have looked at the progress of pupils on School Action Plus and possibly School Action. Figure 2 shows significantly higher levels of achievement for disabled pupils in mainstream schools on these two stages of the Code of Practice.

Figure 2 Attainment GCSE/Equivalents by Special Needs 2005

All pupils % 5 A*-C % Any Pass % No Pass

School Action+ 12.8 84.9 15.1

School Action 18.9 94.5 5.5

No SEN 63.3 98.5 1.5

Dfes Statistics Achievement At GCSE 2005-June 2006

The report says effective schools had regular professional development for all staff on various aspects of inclusion. Those of us working in the Inclusion movement must continue to keep up the pressure on the Government and education stakeholders to deliver the recommendations in this encouraging OFSTED report.
Richard Rieser

* To see full report and Power Point Presentation go to the OFSTED website and put the title in the 'search' box.

** This is now available from DFES publications and is free to all state schools in England under the title 'Implementing the Disability Discrimination Act in Schools and Early Years'.

All Wales People First Manifesto

All Wales People First have launched a really powerful manifesto for the 2007 Welsh Assembly Elections. The Manifesto has been written by people with learning difficulties who have come together over many months to debate what they feel are the priorities for the next Assembly Government. Key demands include a right to choice and control, a right to have their voices heard, a right to respect and we are delighted a right for children and young people with learning difficulties to play and learn alongside other children and young people. This is their 4th Demand:

4. We have the right to personal growth

The WAG (Welsh Assembly Government) should make sure that by the end of 2007 every child under 5 with learning disabilities can take part - with the support they need - in the same play and learning opportunities as other children.

The WAG should make sure that from 1 September 2008 every child with learning disabilities starting school can benefit - with the support they need -
from the same schools as other children.

The WAG should make sure that from 1 September 2008 every school leaver who wants to can take up - with the support they need -
the same college courses as other students.

For more details and a copy of the Manifesto please contact
All Wales People First.
Tel: 01554 784905 or email:

In Brief
The NUT Report 'Counting the Cost of Inclusion'

Caused a stir in more than one way. The way it was publicised by the NUT gave a very negative and distorted view of the content. The research commissioned from John McBeath and Maurice Galton - two well known professors of education at Cambridge University. However neither has ever published on the inclusion of disabled children. The report examined inclusion in 21 schools in a range of Local Authorities. Not surprisingly it found insufficient capacity and training. Rather than demanding more training the NUT used this research to push forward their current view that there should be a continuum of provision in each local authority. Five academics who have researched inclusion wrote a letter to the TES disassociating themselves from this research. They included Martin Rouse and Lani Florian who have researched effective inclusion in Newham.

In Brief
New post-16 education duties from 1 September

New laws affecting the post-16 education sector came into force on the 1st September 2006. Education providers can no longer justify the failure to make a reasonable adjustment and harassment and direct discrimination have been made unlawful.
The DRC's Code of Practice has been revised to take account of these changes and is available on the website. The Code has yet to receive parliamentary approval.
Find out more about the new post 16 education duties on the Disability Rights Commission website: