ALLFIE responds to Newham’s proposal to create new special school
ALLFIE has responded to the London Borough’s plan to build a special school for autistic children as follows.
The Alliance for Inclusive Education (ALLFIE) is a national campaigning and information-sharing network led by disabled people. ALLFIE campaigns for all disabled people to have the human and civil right to access and be supported in mainstream education. ALLFIE believes that the whole education experience should be inclusive of disabled learners, both inside and outside the classroom and lecture room. Disabled and non-disabled learners learning together creates opportunities for the building of relationships and the creation of an inclusive society that welcomes everyone. ALLFIE’s response to “a proposal to create a new special school for children and young people with autism” is one of disappointment.
We are deeply concerned that the London Borough of Newham, once hailed as the flag ship borough globally for its work on inclusive education, would even consider such a regressive proposal. The proposal contradicts Newham’s duty to promote inclusive education under the UN Convention and the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Article 24 as well as under the Children and Families Act 2014 (sections 33 & 34) presumption of mainstream education, making the proposal incompatible with the local authority duty to promote the rights of disabled learners to inclusive education.
This proposal will create a hierarchy of impairment, with disabled learners defined as having significant needs sent to special segregated schools, thus removing them from their community. The very essence of the proposal can never achieve inclusion when some disabled learners are removed and disconnected from their peer group. In addition this is a step backward towards a steep slippery slope as it sets a precedent for other local authorities to follow.
If this proposal were to go ahead it would mean that the rights of disabled learners to attend mainstream education within the London Borough of Newham will be curtailed because there will few resources for supporting disabled children in mainstream education. It will weaken the commitment and reduce related budgets so that what would previously have been considered reasonable adjustments may no longer be the case.
We are deeply concerned and disappointed that given the successful work the London Borough of Newham has achieved in inclusive education it would consider submitting a regressive proposal to the Department for Education for funding to build a new special school.
ALLFIE would not support this proposal. We urge you to reconsider your view on building special segregated schools and look for funding to improve support for new and existing disabled learners within mainstream schools.
We would welcome further conversation with yourself or an appropriate member of staff to share our position.