Richard Rieser reflects on the long struggle for inclusion
The struggle for inclusion is a long one. Gains are shown by students with the label PMLD being included in mainstream schools, such as Eastlea. Finn Murphy’s parents’ long struggle to get him included in mainstream is well described, but should not have been necessary. On a global scale we have seen the adoption of a strongly pro-inclusive General Comment on Article 24 of the UN CRPD. This closes down much of the wiggle room governments have been hiding behind to prevent progress to inclusive education. The General Comment follows last year’s commitment in Sustainable Development Goal 4 by the governments of the world, which commits them to inclusive education for all!
Back in the UK, in the’ Brexit’ aftershock, Theresa May is promoting more selection which means more segregation for the majority of children. Comprehensive schools have achieved the most, for most children and young people, and are the most inclusive in our history. The word ‘meritocracy’ is being used to suggest there is a fixed pool of talent which must be sifted out by quasi-eugenic testing, rather than recognising that all young people should be supported to reach their potential. Accessing exams and apprenticeships remains an issue for young disabled people but we show a way forward. The article on Ashton on Mersey shows that the threat of increased segregation is looming large. Everyone should further the struggle for disability equality in this autumn’s UK Disability History Month, challenging disabilist language and bullying. We mourn the passing of Linda Whitehead, a campaigner, mum and champion of inclusion for her son. However both leaders of Greens and Labour Party are now fully supporting inclusive education.