Inclusion hits rough waters
There is no doubt that the Executive, and the Education Minister in particular, are only too alert to all these problems. Indeed, they sometimes convey almost an air of desperation as they struggle to demonstrate their support for schools with initiatives which leave many teachers distinctly underwhelmed. But are they not doing what schools are asking for - short of abandoning one of the Government's flagship policies, which would be a bridge too far? There are more support staff, alternatives to the mainstream and to the curriculum, and measures such as restorative justice and antisocial behaviour orders.
These are, of course, the "plethora of initiatives" that are often airily dismissed as of no consequence. The issue is not whether there are too many initiatives but whether they are managed properly: the Executive's job is to oil the wheels but it is schools and local authorities that have to drive the car. Ministers must ensure, however, that they do not throw babies out with the bath water and that specialist provision such as guidance remains available.