Inclusion excludes too many children

30th April 2004 at 01:00
In response to the article "Inclusion fails to meet need" (TES, April 16) it seems timely to refer to Baroness Warnock's comments: "Perhaps it is time to rethink the whole concept of special needs" (TES, Millennium supplement 1999).

From 1981, following the recommendations of the Warnock report, there was an encouragement for pupils who had previously been in remedial units to be included into the mainstream school and so it is interesting to note that in present times we have special needs units where pupils are out of the mainstream.

"Inclusion" has become a commonly used term and is largely perceived as being the "correct" educational path along which to tread. However, it presents something of a dilemma because while equal opportunities are of paramount importance, it seems likely that hopes of meeting the needs of these pupils in this way may be unrealistic and run the risk of paying lip-service to this politically-correct notion.

We need to ask whether the requirements of pupils with special needs have adequately impacted into what is largely a mainstream curriculum and whether "inclusion", in real terms, simply amounts to the inculcation of SEN into the mainstream curriculum.

If this is so, then it is likely to result in the invisibility of special needs issues because, in the process of inculcation, the components of an SEN curriculum become lost, to the detriment of those most in need. In part this is because a "standard" curriculum may not recognise those achievements that are made by SEN children.

To ignore this runs the risk of further marginalising these pupils. This, then, is not a path to equality but merely a route to second-class citizenship.

Teachers themselves are under pressure to produce quantifiable "results" in order to justify their existence and, often, SEN pupils will be incapable of meeting these particular demands - this results in an untenable situation for all concerned yet, to date, those who have proclaimed that "the emperor isn't wearing any clothes" have remained unheard, or, more simply, not listened to.

Let us hope that the voice of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers might be sufficiently loud to drum the ears of Government.

Fern Faux 4 Steam Mills Road Cinderford, Gloucestershire

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