Beware dogma over inclusion

9th June 2006 at 01:00
I was surprised by the comments from Dr Kristine Black-Hawkins and her colleagues from Cambridge university ("Effective inclusion benefits all pupils", TES, June 2). The TES gave a fair account of the dilemmas faced by staff having to cope with inclusion policies which are both under-funded and under-supported ("Inclusive teaching? It's more like nursing", TES, May 19).

As the full report The Costs of Inclusion shows, teachers, support staff, and parents are trying to return dignity to the education of children with special needs. The overwhelming support for the report since publication simply confirms that the authors got it spectacularly right.

The National Union of Teacher's call for an independent review of inclusion was triggered by the report's recommendations. The over-arching message in the report was that teachers, parents and support staff supported the principle of inclusion but were being let down by the way it is being applied.

As the report argues, it is the needs of each child that must be given the highest priority, not dogmatic views about a particular form of locational inclusion which actually exclude children and young people. For that reason, the NUT has also called for a halt to the continuing closure of special schools and units.

Most of the letter from Dr Black-Hawkins represents a sensible position statement about inclusion. She and her colleagues must, however, resist the temptation to shoot the messenger.

John Bangs

Head of education

National Union of Teachers.

Hamilton House

Mabledon Place

London WC1

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