Inclusion is for individuals

10th December 2004 at 00:00
I'm fed up with reading sweeping statements about inclusion; those who say it's the only answer and those who say it shouldn't happen. It's about time people stop and think about the individual child. That isn't new to education, is it!

As a headteacher, in 1999 my school was the most improved in England. When I was asked why, I often said that one of the reasons was because we were inclusive. We became experts at looking at each individual's needs and making sure they were pushed to achieve their potential. The children with special needs benefited from being included and so did those who weren't under the special needs umbrella.

It was a personal shock when my six-year-old daughter became ill and lost her sight. The staff at her school and the support services were wonderful but it didn't seem long before I had to think about secondary school.

I saw caring schools that were very happy to have her, and had highly skilled staff - but not in every subject and in large buildings with lots of movement.

I was forced to decide to send her to a special school. This has proved to be the right decision for her. She's happy and learning.

I still believe that inclusion is the right choice for many children - but they are all different and we must remember this.

Dame Sharon Hollows

Oak House 22a Brent Road, London SE18

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