4th February 2005 at 00:00
Inclusion at the crossroads: special education - concepts and values. By Michael Farrell. David Fulton. pound;18

Professionals, policy makers, parents and others interested in education for children with special needs will find this short book - which aims to improve understanding of special education - accessible and well written.

The book covers: defining special needs, equal opportunities, funding and clustering, parents and the balance of power, educating pupils with profound and multiple learning difficulties, and, finally, including pupils with special needs. The chapters tackle specific topics, which make it easy to dip into, and there are good examples of policy in practice.

I was at first surprised that the author did not also include students at undergraduate and post graduate level in the potential readership. Yet, this becomes more understandable when the reference list of fewer than three pages is consulted. There is no reference to many of the key recent texts in the field.

Nevertheless, most chapters contain useful analysis and points. One is that the emphasis on a general set of inclusive values can mean that some specific needs are overlooked.

However, some of the analysis, such as that of goal-related and unconditional need, is not argued through or related to the unclear concept that is special needs.

The book's focus on the social and political aspects of the field is welcome, although I would have preferred a more elaborate and connected treatment.

Brahm Norwich

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