Rob Webster

Why the Warnock report still matters today

Baroness Warnock’s landmark 1978 report on special education sparked legislation that enshrined the policy of inclusion, and it changed the way we talked about disability. Here, Rob Webster argues that, in setting out our vision for SEND support in the future, we should not replace this report, but merely move it on

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Back in November 1971, Labour backbencher Doris Fisher asked Margaret Thatcher, who was the secretary of state for education and science at the time, to consider an ambitious inquiry into “the whole field of special education”. Thatcher declined, claiming that it would not be helpful.

Three years later, Fisher tried again. By then, the law had changed. Steady lobbying had resulted in children with severe learning difficulties or disabilities finally winning the right to formal education. Thatcher now agreed that the time was “ripe” for an expansive enquiry into special education.

It was not ...

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