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Mary Warnock on inclusion last night

(16 Posts)
Blu Thu 09-Jun-05 22:07:35

Did anyone see it? I caught it out of the corner of my eye, but having led the educational estblishments move towards inclusion, she now seems to be re-canting all her former beliefs, and thinks that sn hildren should not be educated in mainstream schools. What does anyone think?

I was v dubious. It seems to me that where there's a will there's a way to make excellent provision for many SN children within mainstream education, to the benefit of everyone involved, but that obviously there needs to be a parallell provision of specialist schools / units for children who need that in order to progress.

There was a suggestion, though I might have got this wrong, that SN children in general should be lumped together in SN schools - ignoring the fact that SN children are as differnt from each other as they can be from NT / able-bodied children (it was covering the full gamut of SN).

flashingnose Thu 09-Jun-05 22:10:59

Didn't see it last night but read article about it, posted here . Plus sleepyjess was on a Radio 5 Live phone in about it here

Blu Thu 09-Jun-05 22:17:34

Oops, thank you flashingnose - missed all that!

madrose Thu 09-Jun-05 22:22:23

This is a difficult one - where there is no real answer. I've worked in a SN school and am now in mainstream. Personally I think that inclusion can be a good thing, but it does depend on the school and the individual child. I have worked in a school where inclusion was very successful and ALL children were fully included within the school timetable/life, there was sufficient support, and I do believe that all the students, those with SN and those without benefited. However, in some school, it doesn't work so well, and the children with SN are separate from the main body of students, mainly by withdrawing them, teaching in different parts of the school etc. or being left to struggle in classes of 30+ kids with very little support.

However, when I worked in the SN school, for the majority of the students there was no way they could cope in a mainstream school, even though the LEAs disagreed and the parents often had a major battle to get their kids there. SO instead of coping with maybe just 5 hours of support each week in a class of 30, they were in classed with no more than 10 in a class and often with 2 - 3 members of staff in that class.

In parts of Italy inclusion works very very well, however - there are small classes, and sufficient support, so that the kids can really partake in all activities.

I don't know what the answer is, but I do think for all kids classed need to be smaller so that they all get a chance to succeed and to take part in school life. who knows one day it may happen. sorry for rambling, but a subject I'm quite passionate about.

heartinthecountry Fri 10-Jun-05 12:02:30

My feeling is that at the end of the day there simply need to be more resources put into Special Educational Needs so that every child can be placed in an appropriate setting whatever that may be. I think the problem for many is that there is no suitable provision for them, or it is so oversubscribed that their child cannot access it (JakB's dd is a case in point).

I don't think just halting the closure of special schools is going to help. What they need to look at is whether the special schools are working and whether they cater for the right needs. Keeping an MLD or PD school open for example is not necessarily going to help children with ASD.

I also do believe that inclusion can be very valuable for very many pupils and for society as a whole but IT HAS TO BE WELL SUPPORTED and also it has to be recognised when it is simply not appropriate.

The problem seems to me that a lack of resources means kids are just being slotted in wherever they can fit them rather than them being placed appropriately.

And wouldn't it be nice if there was ever a choice of appropriate provision for children with SN?

Jimjams Fri 10-Jun-05 12:22:11

I do think children with ASD's (particularly at the lower functioning end of the spectrum) are very very difficult to place in mainstream schools. Feel quite strongly they shouldn't be there. DS1 has just flourished at his special school- as the first paragraph of his recent report says he's a very different boy that the one who started in january. The main difference is that the staff understand him, and understand why he behaves the way he does. You don't get that from a one day training course on ASD's covering the entire spectrum. The staff at his m/s school never even understood that they couldn't just talk to him in great long sentences and expect him to understand. And as he was obviously non-verbal there must be a huge gap n underastanding for more able children with more subtle problems.

I wonder about the sense of placing children who are unlikely to ever live independetly in mainstream schools. I'm not sure I see how they benefit (I can see how the mainstream peers would, but tbh I'm not that bothered about them when considering my son and don't really want him to be the local freak show/learning opportunity). If they're not going to cope with the real world as adults why should they be expected to as children? And they need a totally different curriculum to mainstream children.

Ironically ds1 now accesses the real world much more than he did at mainstream. At m/s he was taught separately and spent a lot of the day wandering around the school building/playground with his LSA. Now he goes out weekly to shops/cafes/playgrounds/picnics etc.

MeerkatsUnite Fri 10-Jun-05 12:45:22

Part of the overall problem is that the duty to assess and describe the provision of special needs falls on the same body that also has to pay. I feel these two issues need to be separated as there is an inherent conflict of interest.

No one policital party has an outstanding track record when it comes to the issue of children with SEN. IPSEA for instance take thousands of calls each years from parents who live in Labour, Lib Dem and Conservative controlled LEA's. The whole system needs to become more transparant and far less adversarial. If LEA officers are faced with a 200 page document (this is the SEN code of practice) and the more user friendly 24 page document called the SEN Toolkit there are no prizes for guessing which document they use most of all. The SEN code of practice says one thing and the Toolkit encourages LEA's to get out of providing services that they have a statutory duty to provide. Government is encouraging the LEA's to break the law when it comes to SEN provision on the basis of cost. If I can be cynical here for a moment, a council will come up with the funds for a visit by Princess Anne but when it comes to spending £300 on some equipment then that is a problem.

Its not a discretionary duty to provide services, its a statutory one.

heartinthecountry Fri 10-Jun-05 13:07:41

Agree Jimjams that mainstream is never going to be appropriate for some children, probably particular those with ASD (though my own personal knowledge isn't good enough to know that to be the case). That's why there needs to be a closer look at what kind of special schools are available, not just the number of them.

Not sure I totally agree about mainstream being of no value to children who are unlikely to ever live independently. My dd will certainly never leave home, yet I do feel she would benefit from going to a mainstream nursery and possibly primary school - (I am not naive enough to think she will cope at secondary or even juniors) - as long as she has adequate support.

It obviously depends on the child. My dd loves being around other children - it totally animates her, it makes her happy. That is a very very important factor for me. Far more important than what she achieves academically. I know that she doesn't get the same 'buzz' from being at her SN nursery because tbh the kids there don't really interact much. Of course that could be different in a different nursery/school.

And now that she is starting to imitate much more, i do believe she would gain something from being with more 'able' children, though she will need support and help to learn how to interact meaningfully.

I think at the end of the day the most important thing is that parent's should be able to choose what they feel is right for their child, not be pushed into the only possible placement, or where an LEA or somebody else decides to place them.

Jimjams Fri 10-Jun-05 13:44:54

We probably agree HITC. DS1 enjoyed his m/s nursery - so much so that I nominated them for an NAS inclusion award. He was integrated and loved going.

School was a different matter- there social stuff takes a back seat very early on, and SATS etc kick in and suddenly the things he needs aren't provided anymore- worksheets are. The borader social stuff that was provided (plays/tree planting/sports day) he was excluded from and couldn't take part (was annpyed about the tree planting tbh- still not sure why he was left behind in an empty classroom- he would have liked being outside).

Jimjams Fri 10-Jun-05 13:52:59

thinking about it grrrrr I got used to being told how good it was the other children to have ds1 there- and yet only one girl invited him to a birthday party in the whole 4 terms he spent there- and she had known him since nursery and always had a bit of a crush on him

When I read the govt speak about inclusion a lot of it talks about the benefit to m/s peers- which is fine PROVIDING the disabled child doesn't suffer (which is what normally happpens).

heartinthecountry Fri 10-Jun-05 13:53:37

I think we probably do Jimjams .

I am probably still living inside the bubble where there is a perfect, accepting, inclusive mainstream school out there somewhere that will provide everything my dd needs - have no real doubt that it will be burst pretty soon!

Davros Fri 10-Jun-05 14:51:16

I thought the old moo was arguing for more choice and greater attention to individual needs, although I didn't watch it that closely.

I think most children with SEN should be able to try mainstream at nursery level, possibly part-time in combination with something else, either SN setting or home setting. You all know plenty about my DS now, he went to m/s at nursery level, only part-time, and although I was sceptical (moi?) I felt it did him a lot of good and it amazed me how much he could fit in and follow his group. Some will do well in junior school too, with enough support, but at that time many would be better in a special setting. Of all the kids I know who have (all with ASD) who have gone to m/s through junior, not one has gone to m/s for secondary. Their parents have all decided that secondary is a whole new ball game. The most able child I know is at a residential school for hf/AS type children and I've just heard that another child, whose parents moved home quite away to get her into the secondary school they wanted, is now probably going to move to a more special setting. So, whatever happens when they are young (and I think its all a social experiement and fuelled by ideology as much as £££), then its all going to blow up at secondary age.

heartinthecountry Fri 10-Jun-05 15:01:10

I think that is what she was talking about davros but it seems to have been picked up by other political parties and pressure groups etc as 'inclusion doesn't work, let's not close any more special schools'. Hopefully though, if anything comes out of it, there will be a proper debate about what really needs to happen.

Totally agree about secondary btw.

Fio2 Fri 10-Jun-05 15:27:25

HITC, The next time my dd has something on at school why dont you pop down and come along. i bet you will be suprised how interactive and how wonderful it all is

Honestly though jimjams i agree totally with you.

I most probably have a very differnent view on things as in Staffs , as you know SN school starts from 2 yrs of age FULL TIME. They are all for early intervention. i was very lucky with dd in that she started at mainstream nursery part time at 2 and then at 3 she went onto a PD/complex needs school (2-7yrs) full time. i couldnt have wished for anything better for her. I saw what my friend's Sn kids were getting in mainstream (with support) and tbh it was shoddy compared to what dd was getting. When we moved down here she was still pre-school and tbh the provision was CRAP. That is the main reason I chose her special school and I feel very lucky she has got in there. i know SleepyJess' ds is in a very good mainstream school here aswell, which we were given the choice of. But tbh i think it very much depends on the experience of the school and the level of support given in the statement.

My daughter would fit in quite nicely into a mainstream school i am sure. Whether on the whole she would benefit in the LONG TERM is another matter. I think i accepted maybe a year ago, that it was more important for my daughter to learn 'life skills' rather than 'access the cirriculum' . this was the reason for our choice of special school, which is atm over subscribed with parents desperately trying to get their little ones in because of the dissappointment and reality of mainstream.

i am sure when mainstream works well, it works well. i am not willing to to just accept' that will be the case atm. i want dd to have mainstream outreach of course but i cant see her getting the level of therapy and support at mainstream

But this is just my opinion and I accept other feel differently which is fine

heartinthecountry Fri 10-Jun-05 16:31:12

Fio2 - I would love to! I am very aware that I only have experience of one SN Nursery, and just know it isn't really the right environment for dd. As you know I have always thought your dd's school sounds fantastic.

Absolutely agree about the 'reality' of mainstream. Without the right support and provision I am sure it would be hopeless for my dd and I am realising that almost certainly she will be better off in a special school or at home, probably with a mainstream placement.

I know that sounds a bit like I am back-peddling - I'm not! I suppose my point was really that there OUGHT to be the right support in mainstream to make that a viable option for kids who could essentially tolerate a mainstream environment.

But hey - I am a dreamer underneath the cynicism .

Fio2 Fri 10-Jun-05 16:50:56

gosh, i am a dreamer too You dont sound like you are back peddling at all. The "right and proper' support is the only way mainstream will work. Not of us would be cynical if the LEA said, yes mRs T, your dd has X amount of needs EVERYHTHING will be met in your local primary, but the reality is they dont. Sometimes we trust and put our children in environments where we are 'guarenteed' they wll get support, but the reality is they dont. I found it especially worrying with my dd when she was 2, 3 or even 4 when we moved down here that she was so laid back and placid she WOULD go along with whatever the other children were doing without support. She 'looks' quite able, but most of what is going on is completely over her head () and that is what makes me worry. especially seeing as we know so many people on here who arent listened too.

When they are little you dont know how things are going to develop. i really thought my dd would catch up or would at least be mild I laugh at myself now, but there is the flip side where things pan out better than you expected ( I still hope she will be better than i expect in the furture now as i think i am a pessimist to help me cope with it iykwim)

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