@tombennett recently criticised OFSTED for scrutinising schools on exclusion and @jarlathobrien has defended the segregation of children with SEND in Special schools in this excellent blog; http://jarlathobrien.wordpress.com/2014/12/30/entitlement-yes-inclusion-no/.
There are some children who disturb the education of others and need to be educated elsewhere and for some children with SEND, a Special School is more inclusive than being taught in the corridor with a TA. So, we’re all in agreement then?
Actually no, because nationally there are increasing numbers sent to Special Schools and alternative provision such as PRUs. Inclusion figures have gone down for the first time in 30 years. (https://news.tes.co.uk/b/news/2014/08/08/increase-in-special-school-numbers-reverses-trend-towards-inclusion.aspx) Is it becoming a mindset that ‘these kids just don’t belong in mainstream’? The first thought rather than the last resort?
When Jarlath says he is teaching a student of level 5 ability I want to ask why? Should they really be in a Special School? Maybe but my first question is are they with their typically developing peers?
I know parents who went to a tribunal to get their child with Downs Syndrome into a mainstream school and in contrast, parents who fought for a statement of educational needs to secure a place at a Special School.
Choice is vital but when it is no longer an option I worry – you have autism therefore you must go here. You’re a wheelchair user we can’t accommodate you. You have ADHD we can’t meet your needs.
These children are our collective responsibility, they are part of our community not someone else’s problem. I see much discussion on Twitter about closing the gap, the top 10%, the bright, poor kids – there’s an almost evangelical zeal to help this section of society (I am always suspicious of evangelistic help – I read Achebe’s Things Fall Apart) but actually our biggest problem is the growing numbers being sent to PRUs and at a younger age – how can we be excluding 6 year olds? Exclusion usually condemns children to a life of academic failure which can ultimately lead to prison.
Are we, as mainstream schools, becoming less tolerant? All students have an entitlement to be included in the right setting not the most convenient one.
And what message are we sending the other students? If we say we can’t cope, if we give up without even trying – they will see this as normal behaviour – I can’t help, you are too different, I will ignore you when you’re suffering as someone else will pick up the pieces.
I worry that we are becoming a divided society – creating gated communities and this (see below) preventing the vulnerable from sheltering. (I wonder if this architect went to an inclusive comprehensive).
I think this person did though.
The current narrative is to blame the people rather than the poverty (see Teach First advert), blame the vulnerable rather than those who make the rules.
So Jarlath and Tom, I do agree, of course I do – you’re the good guys but I wonder if the boundaries of ‘normal’ seem to be narrowing with increased exclusion rates and a reversed trend for the first time in 30 years in inclusion – how typical does a child have to be to stay in mainstream these days?