Inclusion, not Integration
Clearing up the confusion
A few days ago we had an open meeting of members and supporters to discuss ALLFIE’s response to the current SEN Green paper ‘Support and Aspiration: A new approach to special educational needs and disability’.
A general view that came out of the discussions was how few people understand what inclusion actually means, in a lot of cases what is described as ‘inclusion’ is a version of ‘integration’. This misunderstanding of inclusion is shown in the Government’s Green Paper as the paper talks about removing the bias towards inclusion, but the experience of a lot of our supporters is that they are still fighting to achieve inclusion. One parent, whose child is in mainstream education, gave an example of how her child was made to sit on a separate table during lunch times by staff apparently for the child’s dignity. Surely it is more dignified to choose where you want to sit?
At the start of the discussion, ALLFIE’s new chair Joe Whittaker used an example to show how inclusion is a constantly changing thing that depends on the whole educational community to be successful. Inclusion is not created by one off actions and a setting can easily change from being inclusive to being integrated. Inclusion is not just about having disabled learners in the room. It’s integration that causes many to think mainstream education can’t work for disabled children.
With the green paper focused on moving away from inclusion, we need to show why inclusion is important to disabled learners and non-disabled learners. If you have any examples of how to make inclusion work or how it has made a positive difference, please get in touch.