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Dangers of full inclusion


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Anne

I have been reading some interesting stuff from America about the reactions of now adult disabled people to their schooling under the full inclusion policy.

In some states, as here, it has been the policy over the last decade to mainstream as many disabled students as is humanly possible. These include kids with multiple physical disabilities, IQs of 55, medical problems which need medication etc. Apparently, some of these students are now in their 20s and starting to speak out and sometimes sue, for having not received the life training skills that they believe they would have received in a special school. They claim that the concentration was on academic curriculum, or a watered down version of it, and not the skills that would maximise their life potential. I find this all quite fascinating, as our teachers here have been saying the same thing for years, but totally ignored and in fact, castigated for daring to say so. Now, it looks as if our sp ed depts will need to look carefully at whether inclusion has gone too far before they get sued.

I have just read a report on Finnish education which proudly says that they are fully inclusionist in their policies, but goes on to say that they "only" have 2% in special schools. Here we have ONLY 0.7% and only 3 special schools left out of about 7 0r 8 a few years ago.

Question: where should the cut off be for inclusion?

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There is nothing quite like the threat of litigation to focus the minds of the policy makers! In my view it is very difficult to define a cut off for inclusion as this depends on many factors, such as funding, curriculum flexibility and the complexity of the student need. Your posting raises an important issue. Should informed parental/student choice be a more important criterion for inclusion than it is now?

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  • 2 months later...

I work as a Teaching assistant in a SEN department of a mainstream upper school . I have reservations about the full inclusion policy. Even in students who are not physically disabled but have learning difficulties, I feel that sometimes it is tantamount to cruelty to send them to mainstream schools. They find the academic approach difficult and often feel it has little relevance to them.This often leads to behavioural problems and truancy. They might be better with a more basic academic approach and supplementary life skill work which might be more relevant to them. We are pioneering a Pathway 6 on our GCSE option package this year. This offers part time attendance at school, part time at a local college and part time work placement. I don't know how well this is going to work with some of our students who have behavioural difficulties but I feel it could be another option for those who can't cope with the full academic package.

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That sounds like a good compromise if you have the necessary resources to do it. Our trouble here is lack of money for sufficient support and particularly TAs for seriously disabled students. One TA tells me of a girl in Yr 12 who has no language, few motor skills, wheelchair bound who is taken to lessons simply to sit there and be "included". Waht is the purpose of that except that bureaucrats can say they've done their job. We are going to start a union campaign here shortly for more special units on school campus and the reopening of some of the special schools. The wheel, I think, has turned too far for everyone's good.

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