I am all for inclusion in principle, but it doesn’t always work

May 24, 2015 by

Keeping children with special educational needs in mainstream schooling can deprive them of expert care – and their classmates of a decent education

“Either he goes, or I’m taking my daughter out of the school.”

This is what a parent told me in confidence last summer. They were referring to a boy with Down’s syndrome, and associated behavioural difficulties, who had been in their daughter’s class for the six years of primary school. The boy was demonstrating behaviours that would see another child excluded. This included hitting, kicking, biting (students and staff), damaging property, swearing and disrupting lessons to the point that the classroom had to be evacuated several times a week – and their daughter was struggling to cope with the disorder.

We are an inclusive school, and were committed to meeting his needs, determined not to fail him. Special educational needs (SEN) experts had been involved from the start and full-time, one-to-one support was in place. Educational psychologists suggested a child-centred programme of study; speech and language therapists delivered communication therapy; occupational therapists designed programmes of activities to be done three times a day, requiring designated space and costly equipment. We accommodated all of this and more in our one-form entry primary school where both space and cash are at a premium, driven by his parents’ unwavering insistence that mainstream school was the only place he could ever reach his full potential. Other children with similar needs had succeeded here – why not him?

But in striving for inclusive education, we had unwittingly turned a blind eye to the elephant in the room. If inclusion requires a child to be excluded from the same experiences and boundaries as everyone else just to remain on the premises, then it’s not inclusion. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been told to put the child first, but why only the child with SEN? What about the 29 other children whose education is hindered and – in some cases – personal safety jeopardised? I am responsible for those children too.

I am for inclusion, but not at all costs. In this case, the cost was not only the child’s happiness and progress, but the happiness and progress of everyone else in the school. We lost two good members of staff after they had been reduced to tears on numerous occasions by feelings of utter helplessness. On bad days, senior leaders would take over, trying every trick in the book but managing little more than babysitting to give staff respite and minimise collateral damage.

Source: Secret teacher: I am all for inclusion in principle, but it doesn’t always work | Teacher Network | The Guardian

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

1 Comment

  1. Avatar
    RONEE GROFF

    Inclusion before readiness is nothing more then push through and dropout. It is a way to eliminate identifying the largest group of disabled, the learning disabled at a mild and moderate level. They disappear into the “mainstream” classroom which is nothing more then returning to education before the law or in the USA the Federal Mandates governing special education. Training is key and identifying the disability and being prepared every step of the way and in every grade is essential. To do less is hypocrisy. It is also a betrayal of the promise for the student and the parents/families. Many of these students require therapies and life skill training.

    Appropriate schools meant to teach these children, not house them or institutionalize them, is a gift if done correctly and humanely. Schools where they don’t feel different and get the disabilities out of the way and they can socialize and have intensive learning. Trying to standardize children is wrong. Inclusion was done in order to save money and sensitize the other children in order make a more perfect society. It has done neither. In the US the last of the Civil Rights have been
    given to the disabled only to find in education a reversal of intention under a different banner or name. Inclusion is in theory wonderful, so are the 10 commandments but people continue to struggle to do the right thing no matter how they are presented.

    Small class sizes, trained teachers, therapists, scheduling, facility services and needs, etc. are all part of the promise.
    Regular education teachers are not prepared to diaper students, do tubal feedings and airways, trained for the life skills and have square footage for equipment. Patience is in short supply, but empathy and caring of students in high demand and found in the good heart of those that love kids. Asking teachers to be everything to everyone is not fair or practical.

    Special Services School that are built humanely and lovingly with all needed by the severe students is still optimal. Learning Disabled educationally should not have to lose honest Inclusion by being included without identification or programs appropriate to how they learn. Can all of this be done. Yes! It can but only when people are willing to address this honestly and without the administrative constraints of an unfair system that betrays in words and takes the rights from all children by returning them to an old standardized system for the sake of measuring and sorting them for a worldwide corporate initiative for an international tech workforce. The numbers of children entering the school to prison pipeline are the not identified learning disabled who become the dropout and cheap labor in the For Profit Prisons. Not by mistake but by design. LD,ED,JD,Jail!!!!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.