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Report: Inclusive Education Valued, But Not Yet Made Real
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
October 13, 2004

LONDON, ENGLAND--While Britain's mainstream schools are getting better at accepting the values of inclusion, they have not improved much in turning those values into reality for students with "special education needs" (SEN).

That's one conclusion reached by a government report released Tuesday.

The report, entitled "Special educational needs and disability: towards inclusive schools", was published by the Office for Standards in Education, commonly known as Olsted.

The study is the first published since the government strengthened the rights of students with disabilities to be included in mainstream schools three years ago.

It suggests that most schools have welcoming attitudes toward those students and appear to support inclusion. In practice, however, most schools are about as effective as before the legislation in actually being inclusive. As a result, many children are having to spend as much, if not more, time segregated from their peers.

Many mainstream schools still struggle to serve students with severe learning difficulties or behavior problems, the report noted.

Researchers also found that the proportion of students in specialized, segregated schools has stayed about the same. Even though 70 specialized schools have closed in the country since 1997, a number of new ones have opened.

"The report paints a varied picture of success so far," Ofsted's chief inspector David Bell said in a press statement.

"Continued efforts are called for to ensure that more mainstream schools have the capacity and staff are confident about admitting and supporting pupils with more complex needs, especially those with social and behavioural difficulties," he explained.

Responding to the report, a long-time champion of inclusive education suggested that the policy needs to be reevaluated.

Baroness Mary Warnock, who 25 years ago authored a report challenging segregated special education, wrote this week in the trade magazine of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers that many students with disabilities in mainstream schools are still taught separately from other students and "are likely to encounter bullying".

"Special educational needs and disability: towards inclusive schools" (Office for Standards in Education)
[PDF format requires free Adobe Acrobat Reader]
"Warnock says mainstream schools fail disabled pupils" (The Independent)
"Happier in a special school" (BBC)
"Behaviour problems strain schools" (BBC)


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