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Special school was key to success at Bushey Meads

Your article on the inclusion of pupils with severe disabilities at Bushey Meads school (Friday, January 12) painted an exciting picture of what is a remarkable story. The picture was, however, incomplete in one important respect.

I am the head of the special school which, about six years ago, moved on to the same campus as Bushey Meads. The school did not, as your article indicates, close, but changed from an all-age to a primary. Our secondary department was initially relocated into Bushey Meads and subsequently became absorbed into the mainstream secondary school.

As part of the development, the local education authority funded an outreach service which my school providd to Bushey Meads. The focus was staff development, support and consultancy, and our presence on site made this an accessible arrangement.

There is no doubt that this extensive investment in support at the initial stages was key to Bushey Meads's success. I believe that it would simply not have started without our support.

What this history illustrates very powerfully is the capacity of a special school to be instrumental in supporting and developing inclusive practice in a mainstream school. This is exactly what is envisaged in the DfEE's current vision of how special schools should develop.

John Addison

Headteacher, Meadow Wood school, Bushey, Herts

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