All parents have a right to choose

22nd July 2005 at 01:00
Further to the advertisement "In defence of inclusion" (TES, July 8), we would respond as follows.

Successive governments have upheld the parental right to choose the school they feel best serves the educational interests of their child; indeed the present administration has used this principle to force improvement to standards within schools.

We welcome the draft Proposal UN Disability Convention Article 17 (Education) in recognising the right of parents to choose a special school as best suited to meeting the educational and care needs of their severely learning disabled andor autistic sons or daughters.

On behalf of the thousands of families we represent we strongly object to that right to choose being withdrawn from the UN Article 17, as suggested by the Centre for Studies on Inclusive Education and others; a right which is afforded to all other parents.

It is not a question of one type of educational process versus another, but a comprehensive service with each area of specialised expertise having a part to play, with the quality of outcome being the ultimate criterion, not the process.

Though perhaps well intended, the advertisement's conclusions are misplaced and can only be considered an experiment in social engineering, using "inclusion" as the ideological inducement in what is a total misrepresentation of government policy which says "inclusion is not an agenda for the closure of special schools".

This was further confirmed by the Prime Minister Tony Blair last year, but local education authorities seem more interested in reducing costs than meeting real needs in the real world.

Richard S Jackson Honorary chairman The National Society for Children and Adults with Learning Disabilities and their Families RESCARE Rayner House 23 Higher Hillgate Stockport

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