Here at last is a comprehensive and interesting book about children and young people with moderate learning difficulties (MLD), the largest group of children designated as having special educational needs. Its publication will be welcomed by all those, teachers, students and academics alike, prepared to explore and challenge the dilemmas and contradictions presented by this so-called "category".
For some, it may come as a surprise that there is so much confusion in terms of definition and so many disparities in policy and practice across the UK. So much has been assumed and so little attention paid to the rights of children in this contentious group.
The book's eight chapters cover first, a discussion of historical and current issues. Do, for example, children with MLD constitute a distinct group? What comparisons can be drawn between OECD and UK definitions? Two studies are then reported and discussed. The first of these looks at the perspectives of children with MLD on the provision they receive at school, and on how they perceive themselves. The second considers the findings of a survey of English and Welsh local education authorities' policy and practice in relation to this group. The final chapter considers options, all challenging.
For those training to become headteachers and special educational needs co-ordinators, this book should be essential reading for its historical reach, the detail of the research and its attention to the voice of young people. The review of research and the perspectives covered will be immensely useful to students in the field. It will encourage them to consider the future of inclusion in a fresh and challenging way and perhaps to explore innovative and flexible approaches to teaching and learning which are less concerned with defining the indefinable and more concerned with the development of every child's capacity to learn.
Visiting fellow, Oxford Brookes University