Parents must listen to inclusion experts

26th August 2005 at 01:00
Daniel Jones ("Dash for inclusion has hurt families", TES, August 12) argues that parents should choose the setting that produces the best outcomes for their child. That is naive because most parents are not educationists and have no idea of the best setting.

Ever since my son entered education at age four, we have had to be guided.

It is impossible to determine whether he would have been better-served by attending special schools or within mainstream education.

However, what I do know is that, had he been born in another decade, he would have spent his education in special schools whereas, other than for the first two years when he was in an assessment centre attached to a mainstream school, he has spent his time in mainstream education (with the help of a learning support assistant).

This has not only been an outstanding educational success but, more importantly, has kept him in contact with all his local peer group which will be invaluable when he leaves school and enters the adult world. On Saturdays, as we walk down our local high street, he is constantly greeted by the local children.

We need to remember that education is not an end in itself, it is about preparation for a far harder and wider world.

Inclusion for many children has been a blessing and our wider society will benefit from this in the future.

John P Barnard

Principal finance manager

(Education, Arts and Libraries)

County Hall, Exeter

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