We never lived up to inclusion ideals

1st July 2005 at 01:00
Mark Vaughan's response to Mary Warnock's backtracking on inclusion reflects well the exasperation surely felt by many people working in the field "Wary about Warnock", (TES, June 17).

I do not think, though, that the current situation is merely to do with whether Baroness Warnock is out of touch or not. It is surely more the consequence of decades in which the gap between good intention and reality has hardly closed at all.

Although there are many examples of good practice, there has been a lack of will - and resources - from central and local government to make inclusion a meaningful reality for pupils and their families. As usual, schools have been expected to work miracles while living with an inadequate curriculum, training and resourcing.

Sadly, this has tarnished inclusion by creating a widely-held public perception that it can harm pupils with special needs as well as those in mainstream who have to "put up" with them.

Government purse-holders are probably relieved at this, as it means the money does not have to be found to do the job properly.

It was interesting to note that in the same edition of The TES the headline "No place for the disabled" stood out in the FE Focus section. This, I would suggest, is the key point: the fact that society doesn't appear to care that adults with learning difficulties are often the first to have funding cut for learning, indicates there is a long way to go before the Government will feel the pressure to properly support inclusive practice.

In my view there needs to be a significant campaign to raise awareness about the needs of people with learning difficulties, and how marginalised they remain, before the efforts of schools can bear the fruit they deserve.

Phil Goss

22 Ruskin Drive Kirkby Lonsdale Carnforth Lancs

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