Karen Thornton reports on the reaction of teaching unions and campaigners to the increase in inclusive schooling
THE ODDS on children with special educational needs going to a mainstream school are fixed by where they live, according to a new report.
The Centre for Studies on Inclusive Education says that a child with special needs is 15 times more likely to be in a special school in Lambeth, south London, than in nearby Newham, which is a lon-standing policy of closing specail schools and including pupils in mainstream classes.
And in Manchester just over a third of pupils with statements of special need attend mainstream schools compared to more than 90 per cent in the tiny authority of Rutland.
But the Bristol-based centre also found that overall more special needs pupils are being taught in mainstream classes.
A spokesman for the centre,which campaigns for all children to go to mainstream schools, said: "The exclusion of disabled children is a fundamental human rights issue and there is still a long way to go. There are enormous benefits when children are included with appropriate support and planning.
"This Government has given significant encouragement to assist these changes in mainstream schools and has put in large sums of new money."
In 1998, the percentage of pupils in special schools in England fell to 1.35 per cent, from 1.4 per cent in both 1996 and 1997. There was also a slight increase - from 59 to 62 per cent - in the proportion of pupils with statements in ordinary schools compared to 1997.
The councils with the greatest proportion of integrated special needs pupils are Newham and Havering, London, Barnsley, Cornwall and Calderdale.
"Inclusion 1996-98: A Continuing Trend," price pound;8, is available from CSIE, telephone 0117 923 8450. * Fact file
Councils with the lowest percentage of pupils in special schools:
Councils with the
highest percentage of pupils in
Brighton amp; Hove (2.98)