Baroness Warnock, the pioneer of inclusion, has said that special schools can prevent pupils from sinking into failure, truancy or violence.
In the 1978 Warnock Report, Mary Warnock identified the fact that, while 2 per cent of pupils attended special schools, a further 18 per cent of pupils had special educational needs - but attended mainstream schools.
However, she now says that she did not mean that these children would be best served in the mainstream.
"Successive governments have got into the habit of talking about special schools as uniquely applicable only for people with the most profound learning difficulties," she said.
"Special schools should be widened to include children with other disabilities, who will sink in mainstream schools, or not go to school at all, or turn to aggression and violence."
This summer, Baroness Warnock, 81, published a report, condemning statementing and the policy of inclusion. She called for a "radical revolution" to reverse the damage done.
"SEN is not a uniform concept," she now says. "It may have outlived its usefulness. Different children have radically different needs."
Inclusion, she says, varies in different contexts: "Primaries are in a far better position to look after their own. They don't make such demands in terms of children organising their own lives.
"And young children are more biddable, so teachers are better able to prevent bullying."