England has obligations under international human rights law to provide inclusive education for all children regardless of their abilities, gender and sexualities (CSIE, 2000). Inclusive education in England was also influenced by the Disabled People’s Movements (Hodkinson and Vickerman, 2009). Inclusive education happens when children with disabilities are moved from segregation education (special schools) and become included within mainstream education. This dissertation is going to focus on school aged children with learning disabilities. Children with learning disabilities have a right to access universal education like other children without learning disabilities. Children with learning disabilities are included in mainstream education with those without disabilities so that they can have an opportunity to receive the same standard of education and also share experiences about each other in order to create a positive attitude. In addition, children with learning disabilities will gain more skills and knowledge that will prepare them for employment and mainstream life chances as equal citizens.
People with learning difficulties in England continue to experience socio-economic and cultural exclusion from mainstream society and as a result this target group is often not included in the mainstream education. Inclusive education entails social inclusion, social justice and the empowerment of children with learning difficulties and requires their inclusion into the mainstream curriculum, teaching methods and classrooms together with their peers. As well as equipping children with learning difficulties with the knowledge and skills necessary for their participation in society it also challenges and changes societal attitudes regarding children with disabilities.
This research will concern itself and examine the effectiveness of inclusive education in England through the collection, presentation and analysis of secondary data about the English programme of inclusive education. The study will conclude by summing up the main study outcomes which show the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of inclusive education in England.
Recent years have seen education for young people with learning disabilities shift from segregation to Inclusive Education. In the past children with learning disabilities were not educated like children without disabilities, they were seen as uneducable and were sent into long stay hospitals where they had little stimulation and occupation (Grant et. al, 2009). They were seen as vulnerable and had something wrong with them. They were stigmatised, not seen as members of society and not given the same opportunities as their peers. The medical model of disability was used to diagnose, and categorise and treat them and according to this model children with learning disabilities had something wrong with them hence they needed to be cured (Grant et. al, 2009). Children were the responsibility of the health department. However, when the Labour Government came into power in 1997 they introduced Inclusive Education that aimed at giving everyone the same opportunities, choice and self-determination (Hodkinson and Vickerman, 2010).
This research will examine the effectiveness of Inclusive Education for children with learning disabilities, ages ranging from five to 19 years in England. Inclusive education is seen as central to achieving social inclusion and social justice for people with learning disabilities. However, despite this endeavour, people with learning disabilities continue to experience socio- economic and cultural exclusion from the mainstream of society because of the social and environmental barriers they face. It is the contention of this dissertation that inclusive education in England is essential to promote the social inclusion and social justice and is an important starting point to promote the education and life chances of people with learning disabilities. Failure to do so will lead to continuing the inequalities people with learning disabilities experience. Inclusive education therefore, becomes an indispensable feature of social inclusion and social justice.
At this stage it would be ideal to explore the concept of social exclusion as a policy that has influenced the emergence of inclusive education. For inclusive education seeks to include children with learning disabilities in education in order to create an inclusive society that embraces people with learning disabilities as equal citizens. Morris (2001) reinforces this view stating ‘Inclusive education is part of a human rights approach to social relations and conditions’ which promotes ‘a vision of the whole society of which education is a part’ and which embodies ‘Issues of social justice, equity and choice’ which are central to the demands for inclusive education (cited in Ward, 2008).
The opposite of this is social exclusion, which is defined by Pierson (2010, p. 12) as ‘a process that deprives individuals and families, groups and neighbourhoods of the resources required for participation in the social, economic and political activity of society as a whole. This process is primarily a consequence of poverty and low income, but other factors such as discrimination, low education attainment and depleted living environments also underpin it’. According to this definition when people are not given the same opportunities as everyone else in the society, they become excluded.
The Centre for Analysis of social exclusion (CASE), point out that ‘an individual is socially excluded if he or she does not participate in key activities of the society in which he or she lives’. (Boardman et al., 2010, p.12).
The above definitions maintain that people who are excluded do not have the same opportunities as other people within society. With regard to inclusive education, children with learning difficulties not included in mainstream education will be excluded from important activities and they may not develop enough knowledge to participate within mainstream opportunities that other people enjoy and take for granted within society. The writer became interested in finding out about major causes of exclusion amongst people with learning disabilities when she worked with young people with learning disabilities in a day centre.
She became aware that those young people did not have the same curriculum as other children in a mainstream school but all they did was painting and nothing to prepare them for employment. This made the writer realise that young people with learning disabilities are not prepared enough for mainstream chances and unless they are given the same chances as other children in education, they will remain marginalised. This dissertation aims to examine the effectiveness of an Inclusive Education programme for the 5-19 year old children with learning disabilities in England. The research will focus mainly on children with special educational needs. Hodkinson and Vickerman (2009, p.3) define a child with special educational need as a child who ‘has a learning difficulty which calls for special educational provision to be made for him’. In addition, England was chosen in this research instead of the United Kingdom because education systems for Scotland and Wales are not the same as the English education system hence their policies and practices would be different.
The examination will therefore begin in chapter one by reviewing literature about inclusive education in general discussing what it is and how it works. It will also explore concepts and definitions of inclusive education and will highlight principles of human rights, empowerment and the maximisation of all children’s potential. Reference will be made to international law, English law, legislation and policy on Inclusive Education. Other forms of education will also be discussed. Literature will be analysed so that it will be used to inform the research debate. In Chapter 2 will outline methods that have been used in this research.
Chapter 3 will examine the history of inclusive education, looking how it emerged as a policy in England, while doing this reference will be made to international policies. Chapter 4 will examine England and international policies, government’s initiatives on Inclusive Education. Chapter 5 will focus on the theory and practice of inclusive education and will outline the experiences of children with learning disabilities, how they feel about Inclusive Education and whether they feel included in education at all. Parents’ experiences will also be explored to find out if Inclusive education is best for their children. Educationalists and political views will also be examined. Chapter 6 will analyse the data in this study, followed by the study recommendations. Finally, the research will conclude by considering whether Inclusive Education in England has been effective in including young people with learning disabilities in mainstream life chances.
This chapter will review literature which includes the definitions of concepts and the discussions of major debates in the subject of Inclusive Education. Literature will be analysed and the review will gather information from academic textbooks, government policy documents, internet sources and journal articles. The review will be used to inform the whole dissertation with much of it evident in the critical analysis chapter.
DEBATES AND DEFINITIONS IN INCLUSIVE EDUCATION:
The Department for Education and Employment (1996, section 321), suggests that a child has a learning disability when he or she:
‘has a significantly greater difficulty in learning that the majority of children of his age’ or ‘has a disability which either prevents or hinders him from making use of educational facilities of a kind generally provided for children of his age in school within the area of local education authority’. (Cited in Frederickson and Cline, 2003).
Mencap (2007), a leading Learning Disabilities charity, points out that people with learning disabilities find it harder than others to learn, understand and communicate but with support may be able to learn. According to Valuing People (2001, 14), everyone has had some varying degrees of learning difficulties at some point in their life and as a result we have all been assisted in our lives at some point. The two perspectives suggest that difficulties in learning could be overcome through the provision of some form of assistance to enable children with learning difficulties to benefit from their learning in the same way their peers do in order for them to feel socially included.
The idea of overcoming barriers in education is referred to as inclusive education, and involves a social model view of learning difficulties. Failure to remove social and environmental barriers leads to segregation in society for people with disabilities. Separate services such as special Needs Schools and residential homes, which are provided within a medical model view of learning difficulties, continue a model of education and care which separates children with learning disabilities from their peer group and community. Whether spate services is the correct form of provision is a major and current debate in England and internationally. It could be argued that segregated education means a segregated society full of inequalities and injustices, yet the fact remains that children are different. For them to benefit from their learning environment their individual needs should be adequately catered for in schools. Meeting the needs of children with learning difficulties, will help them be fully included like their peers.
Hodkinson and Vickerman (2009) support the above view by discussing the medical model view of learning for people with learning difficulties. They point out that under the medical model people’s inability to participate fully in their communities is due to their impairment, it is the individual who has to adapt to the way in which society is constructed. The medical model sees the impairment as the cause of disadvantage for the person and not the structures within society. In this model, people are defined by their disabilities or illness rather than what they can do when given support and the professionals want to cure these individuals rather than making services accessible. (Swain et al. 2003). According to Johnston (2001) the medical model views disability as a personal tragedy for individuals concerned hence these people are seen as needing protection and security. This notion encourages that people with disabilities need special provision of services, hence special schools, segregation and special benefits.
The Social Model was developed by disabled people movements in response to the medical model of disabilities. This model argues that people with learning disabilities are denied their civil rights; this is done by not providing them with environments that can accommodate their disabilities. For example a young person with learning disabilities in a mainstream education with no support will not feel included in the class room. According to this model, it is society that disables people by placing barriers that hinder people with impairments to access mainstream chances hence they become marginalised and discriminated against. For people with learning difficulties if their needs in education are not met, they will face barriers in education and in the employment sector. This will be because they will not be prepared enough to take on mainstream life chances (Swain et al. 2003).
Inclusion as a concept is defined by Cigman (2007) as a universal human right. Cigman points out that inclusion is about embracing people irrespective of race, gender, disability and other needs. He continues by saying that it is about giving people the same opportunities in life while taking away discrimination and removing barriers for people who are often excluded. In his definition Cigman accepts that inclusion is a human right that everyone should be given in order for people to feel accepted within their society and be able to participate in mainstream life chances. Inclusion is a way of involving people within their communities to fight exclusion and aims to promote equality (Swain et al. 2003).
Inclusion in education is defined by Rumstemier (2001) as a process where all children and young people with and without learning difficulties learn together in ordinary schools with appropriate support. CSIE (2011) defines inclusion in education as a way of reducing barriers to learning and participation for all students, not only those with impairments enabling them to participate fully in mainstream settings regardless of their need. Cigman (2007), states that inclusion in education helps to make disability a part of everyday life. He continues to say that child with disabilities and those without; if they are taught together they get to accept appreciate and understand each other beyond their capabilities. When children are educated in special or segregated schools, they do not get a chance to be understood by their peers. They will always be seen as different hence rejected and discriminated against. However if children with learning difficulties are educated within the mainstream education, the societal attitudes towards them will change as they get to be valued and appreciated by their peers.
Rumstemier (2001) therefore sees inclusion in education as not about integration but about a total approach to social inclusion in the sense that government must be committed in terms of policy and practice to adapt to mainstream curriculum, teacher training and funding into inclusion. The Council for Disabled Children (1996) suggests that government should train specialists who would break down the mainstream curriculum to cater for those with learning disabilities. The document goes further to suggest that curriculum breakdown needs funding commitments which would see specialised equipment that would be used by children with severe difficulties for them to be included. The equipment will help children with severe learning difficulties to learn in a mainstream school (Robinson and Stalker, 1998). This therefore brings to light that inclusive education is not only about school curriculum issue but it is about inclusion within society as well.
Stubbs (2002, p.6) argues that ‘Inclusive education can be seen as a movement that up holds key values, beliefs and principles in relation to children, what education is, diversity and discrimination, participation process and resource’. Many of these are challenging to the status quo, but necessary if socio-economic and political development as a whole is to be inclusive and benefit all citizens. Much of the confusion comes from using terms like integration or mainstreaming or special education. In other words inclusive education could be confused with either of the above practices which in Stubbs’s (2006) view, a distinction should be made if inclusion is to happen.
It is necessary at this point to define terms like; integration, mainstreaming, special education and special school as these terms may be confusing when talking about inclusive education. According to Hodkinson and Vickerman (2009), integration or mainstreaming in education were coined in the Warnock Report (1978) to refer to the process involved in meeting special needs in ordinary (mainstream) school. This is not inclusion but a way of transferring excluded children with learning difficulties into a mainstream school; it is a medical model way of educating children with learning difficulties. Hodkinson and Vickerman (2009) further argue that this practice focuses on the child as having a problem not the system. In this practice a child is moved into a mainstream school not taking into consideration the needs of the child and whether the child would understand the mainstream curriculum or not. The method of teaching does not focus on the child and teachers are not skilled enough to meet the educational needs of the child, resulting in little support for the child. The integrated child is left alone to cope with mainstream school with no support, and the attention the child might get would be excluding the child from his or her peers. Hodkinson and Vickerman(2009), further argues that integration or mainstreaming usually leads to inclusive education if the child is given support that is tailored for their needs. This therefore shows that inclusive education is a process which begins with practices such as integration.
The terms special needs and special education needs are discussed by Ainscow (1991) as that are frequently used without any real precise understanding of their meaning. Ainscow refers to the Warnock Report (1978) which stressed that 20 percent of children had some form of special need at some point in their schooling and that these children were part of the mainstream schools. The report also stressed the importance of speaking of children with special educational need rather than ‘handicapped children’, that the use of language is important in challenging stigma. These terms however are positive steps towards the inclusion of children with learning difficulties in the mainstream because they show anti-oppressive and anti-discriminatory approach in educating children with learning difficulties. This is a way of using respectful and inclusive language rather than the use of discriminatory terms such as ‘handicapped’ which might reinforce prejudice and make acceptance even more difficult both in school and within their communities. It is worth noting that terms like integration, special needs or special education are not inclusion or inclusive education but they could lead to inclusive education in the sense that they are non discriminatory way. However, it is worth noting that to tackle personal, cultural and structural discrimination of people with learning difficulties, one has to start with inclusive education for this is when social inclusion begins (Thompson, 2006).
INCLUSIVE EDUCATION AS A HUMAN RIGHT:
According to the Salamanca Statement (UNESCO, 1994), every child has a right to education, therefore every education system should be designed to cater for all children regardless of their needs. In addition, the statement states that children with special educational needs should be educated in mainstream education while having their needs met within that school. The statement points out that inclusive education is most effective in combating discriminatory attitudes, while creating welcoming communities, building an inclusive society and achieving education for all. (Cigman, 2007, p.15). Booth 2000 argues that inclusion ‘is a concept far beyond any single definition’ (cited in Hodkinson and Vickerman, 2009). While Hornby (2004, p4) suggests that ‘inclusion should be a process inextricably linked to the ‘goal of full inclusion’ ’.
Hodkinson and Vickerman 2009, suggests that ‘in full inclusion it is generally accepted that all children should be educated together in terms of location, needs curriculum and attitudes, with no tolerance of or justification for the maintenance of a separate segregated system’.
Cigman (2007) reinforces this by saying that all children have a right to learn together. All the above statements suggests that for full inclusion to happen in education, children should be educated together as it is a child’s right to be included.
Graham (1991, p2) points out that The Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 asserted that: children and adults with learning difficulties are however frequently denied education as their fundamental right. This is often based on the discriminatory assumption that disabled people do not count as full human beings (Graham, 1991) and are somehow the exception in terms of the universal right. Lobbying by disability groups has ensured that subsequent United Nation Human Rights Instruments make specific mention of people with learning difficulties and emphasise that all people with difficulties no matter how severe, have a right to education.
According Riser (2008) The United Nations Convention on the Right of the Child (UNCRC) 1989, a legally binding instrument that all except two countries have signed , goes further by stating that, primary education should be ‘Compulsory and be available free to all’ (Article 28). The UNCRC has four general principles which should underpin all articles including those on education:
1. Non-discrimination (article 2) making specific mention for children with difficulties
2. Best interest of the child (article 3)
3. Right to survival and development (article 6)
4. Respect for the views of the child (article 12).
Having already established the basis of the theoretical approach of this dissertation, it is now necessary to reflect on information that will be gathered to critically analyse arguments in this dissertation. To do this research, the history of inclusive education will be analysed to see how it came about in England. This will be done using secondary sources such as: Key Issues in Special Educational Needs and Inclusion (Hodkinson and Vickerman 2009) and Learning disabilities (Gates 1997). These sources and others will give an overview of how inclusive education started in England, how it shifted from segregation to inclusion. This dissertation will also use primary information from books and primary research (quantitative or qualitative) that were written by people with learning disabilities expressing how they experienced inclusive education in England. Experiences of people with learning disabilities will give this analysis a clear lens in seeing if Inclusive education has been effective in England, for without this information the findings will lack the richness of personal experiences. This dissertation will need to be person centred looking at how the service users feel about the services provided rather than just focusing on how services have been delivered.
The research will be undertaken to give more understanding of the subject area as the Department of Health 2001 states that, ‘research is the attempt to find new knowledge by addressing clearly defined questions with systematic and rigorous methods’ (Cited in McLaughlin, 2007, p.10). While doing this research two social research methods have been reviewed, which are qualitative and quantitative. Quantitative methods are used in order to give clear understanding of the debate of Inclusive Education, this method measures thing in quantities. To gather information this method uses surveys, experiments, structured interviews, questionnaires, structured observations. This method is influenced by the positivism approach which uses natural sciences to study the social world and it often covers large samples of the population. This kind of research method is widely used by governments as it gives them clear statistics of population representation (Flick, 2009). It will be important to use this method as it will help the researcher to understand how many schools use Inclusive Education and how many people who feel inclusive education is effective.
However, this methodology does not have the personal experiences of people with learning disabilities as the questions that are asked do not allow the person to express themselves more. According to Bryman (2001), quantitative methods do not give participants any room to explain their answers or to ask any questions where they need to. In order for this research to find unbiased information on the effectiveness of Inclusive education, it cannot use only quantitative method; it would need to use qualitative method as well.
Qualitative method focuses on the individual on individuals, how they interact, interpret and explain the world around them. This method uses participants’ observations; semi-structured and unstructured interviews, feedback forms; focus groups; action research and case studies. These methods seek to understand the person’s feelings, how they understand the world around them. Using this method would be important to the researcher as it gives a more understanding of the experiences of people with learning disabilities, and how they feel included in education. Interpretivism influenced this method, it focuses more on observing how people behave and interpret their social world. This method is widely used in social work and social sciences as it seeks to understand the person and how they explain their world. For this research to be unbiased both methods have to be used in order to understand and to find out if Inclusive Education has been effective in England.
It would be ideal to give an example of a study that was done using a qualitative research approach. The research was undertaken by Simmons and Bayliss (2007), the aim of the study was to find out if segregation is always the best for children with profound and multiple learning difficulties. They did the study in a school in the South West of England using a qualitative approach. While doing their study they used participant and non participant observation and semi- structured interview which were going to give more room to participants to explain their answers if needed to. Their study found that the school struggled to provide learning experiences for pupils with profound and multiple learning difficulties. The research found that staff lacked training because they had little understanding of learning difficulties and lacked resources.
Whilst implementing the qualitative research Simmons and Bayliss (2007) were able to understand more about the views of the participants in the research study. If they had the used the quantitative method, there may not have achieved the same results that they got because this method only uses closed questions and does not give participants any chance to express their views.
HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE S
CSIE discusses the historical development of inclusive education in England by noting that historically, mainstream schools have always been prepared to exclude children who were seen to be different from other children. This segregation was legitimised by the early development of psychological testing and assessment techniques. The techniques according to Taylor et al (1990, 163) were fuelled by the belief that genes were determinants of health and intellectual capacity. Therefore this stigmatised and devalued people with learning difficulties and as a result the early 1900s saw a separate segregated education system, for pupils classified as ‘handicapped’ and the system was built up and expanded until the 1980s. It was not until 1970s that the last group of children with learning difficulties (until then were considered to be uneducable) were brought in the educational fold with the 1970 Education Act. (Barton and Armstrong, 2008). Gates (1997) refers to the 1970 Education Act as the Act that eradicated powers stating that children with severe learning difficulties were not suitable for an education at school.
Gates (1997) goes on to note that this legislation empowered all children to receive education, with official monitoring by local education authorities, regardless of their degree of learning difficulties. CSIE adds to Gates (1997)’s views by further noting that, during the 1980s and 1990s, notions of what was normal and natural were seriously questioned by educational professionals and parents. In other words society increasingly questioned the validity of the theories and practices of segregation of people with learning difficulties around the 1980s and 1990s. These beliefs and theories had resulted in the exclusion of children, young people and adults from the mainstream, socio-economic and educationally systems. But increasingly this exclusion was seen as negative discrimination and became a major human rights issue in England. Although, the above points out that change did not exactly mean that children with learning difficulties were included in the mainstream schools, it only helped to actually introduce the idea that all children regardless of their learning difficulties were educable and it was their human right to be educated.
Having said that, Graham (1991) notes that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights identified the need for member states to observe the rights of children and adults with learning difficulties in 1948. According to CSIE, it was not until 1989 that other international human rights organisations and agreements agreed to support the view that compulsory segregation in education is against children and young people’s basic human rights. These include the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989, the UN Standard rules on the Equalisation of opportunities for Persons with Difficulties and the UNESCO’s Salamanca Statement. The Salamanca statement stated that,
‘Schools should assist them (children with SEN and disabilities) to become economically active and provide them with the skills needed in everyday life, offering training in skills which respond to the social and communication demands and expectations of adult life.’ (UNESCO, 1994: 10).
According to Hornby 2002 (cited in Hidkinson and Vikerman 2009) the Salamanca statement was very influential in the evolution of inclusive education in England. The Labour party when they came in power in 1997 introduced inclusive education as a policy in which they stated that inclusion in education promotes inclusion within the society.
The above being the case, in England, the Children Act 1989, a guidance on the implementation of the rights of the child including those rights concerned with the rights of children with learning difficulties, amended in 2004 was published in The Inclusive Charter in 1989 as a follow up of the UN Convention on the Right of the Child, Children Act Enterprise (2004, 1). CSIE further notices that besides other developments in the England, in 2000, Tony Booth and Mel Ainscow published the Index for Inclusion, a set of material designed to support mainstream schools in the process of inclusive education which aims to break down the barriers to learning and participation and was recognised by the government in its legislation for inclusion. The period 1989 to 2004 have therefore seen the government policy, legal and national action, all combining their resources to make inclusive happen.
There are of course number of reasons why society in England began to question the rationale behind the theories of segregation of people with learning difficulties leading to inclusive ideas discussed above. Swain et al (2004,21) argues that the period 1970s saw the emergence of the Disabled People’s movements which challenged the theories of segregation and exclusion (Medical Model) leading to the acceptance and integration of people with learning difficulties (Social Model) in education. There are contributions made by other disciples such as psychology which will be discussed later in chapter six. However it is clear that the above mention changes which include the 1970’s legislation as discussed and other legislations and policy up to date are clear examples of inclusive and positive perceptions of people with learning difficulties. The following chapter will therefore discuss the English and international laws with reference to the inclusion of children with learning difficulties in England.
THE POLICY CONTEXT
As previously discussed the Education (Handicapped Children) Act 1970 with relevance to inclusive education in England, was the first act that sought to challenge segregation. This act recognised that children with disabilities could be educated as opposed to previous acts that had argued that disabled children were uneducable, and their education was transferred from health to local authorities (Hodkinson and Vickerman 2009).
However, in 1981 the Education Act was introduced giving the first legal duty for local authorities to integrate children with learning difficulties into ‘ordinary schools’ (Hodkinson and Vickerman, 2009). Hodkinson (2010) points out that this Act gave formal recognition to the Warnock Report’s recommendations, placing a duty on local education authorities to identify the needs of children through a process of multi-disciplinary assessments and statements. The Act did not seem to commit itself fully to inclusive education in the sense that it sought to integrate children with special needs into mainstream school without adjustments. This becomes a weakness as children’s are denied mainstream resources and treatment; and their needs are not taken into account. However, under this Act, stakeholders are the ones who make decisions to integrate children with special educational needs yet parents are denied the right to make such decision and children’s voices are not listened to Mittler (2000).
The education Act of 1988 did little to promote inclusive education; the act recommended that children with learning difficulties be assessed for integration and mainstream curriculum. According to the assessment, those children whose needs were severe were not to access all aspects of the national curriculum. (Gate, 1997). The 1989 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child sought to give children rights to express their views on matters affecting them. The Mental Capacity Act 2005 argues that people over the age of 16 should be assumed to have capacity unless it is proven that the person has no capacity (DH, 2005). Therefore according to this act young people with learning difficulties when they are 16 they can make decisions on matters that affect them when they have capacity yet when they are below 16 their parents can support them in making decisions. The 1993 Act focused on the code of
Practice and those parents should be made in decision making within integrated education.
Having mentioned the above Acts, it is evident that these Acts significantly brought changes to the development of education for children with learning disabilities, although they still maintained segregated educational practice. (Hodkinson and Vickerman, 2009). Stubbs 2002 suggests that integration or mainstreaming usually lead to inclusive education. Therefore these policies were the first steps in including children with learning difficulties in education although they did not take into account individual needs and their rights.
Rustemier (2002) points out that in January 2002 a new statutory framework for inclusion came into force strengthening the right to education in mainstream schools for children with statements of Special Educational Needs. The 1996 Act was amended by part 1 of Special Educational Needs and Disability Act (SENDA) (2001) so that all children with statements must be educated in a mainstream school unless this would be ‘.detrimental to the effective education of the other child or against parental wishes’ (SENDA, 2001).
Local Education Authority (LEA) can only refuse to place a child with a statement in a mainstream school if it can demonstrate that there are no reasonable steps it can take to prevent the child’s placement adversely affecting other children. In other words there are still issues and attitudes of ‘normal’ or ‘not normal’ in our attempt to include children with difficulties in the mainstream. These are the attitudes which may possibly make inclusion difficult and which have motivated this research to take place. To really find out how effective the programme of inclusion education in England is. For if inclusion is to happen all children should be admitted to school without strings attached to them.
The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 was introduced by the government to end discrimination for disabled people. According to this Act schools and local authorities have a duty not to discriminate children with special needs but should accommodate these children to access education Fredrickson and Cline (2009). This Act was amended by the Disability Discrimination Act 2005 which placed a duty on all service providers including schools to promote equal opportunities for people with disabilities. The act urges schools to make reasonable adjustments in order to make schools accessible for child with disabilities Frederickson and Cline, (2009). This act was beginning to accept that children with learning difficulties should be given the same opportunities as everyone, not to discriminate them.
In 2002 the National Curriculum was introduced which sought to provide effective opportunities for all children and this gives a guideline of what teachers should do when teaching. According to the National Curriculum teachers should: set suitable learning challenges; respond to pupils’ diverse learning needs and overcome potential barriers to learning and assessment for individuals and groups of pupils (DfES, 2001).
In 2005 the government Agenda Every Matters Agenda was introduced with the aim of changing the lives of children in England including those with SEN and who are aged 3 to 19. The government aimed to support these children to be:
1. Being Healthy: enjoying good physical and mental health and living a healthy lifestyle;
2. Staying safe: being protected from harm and neglect;
3. Enjoying and achieving: getting the most out of life and developing the skills needed for adulthood;
4. Achieving economic well being: not being prevented by economic disadvantage from achieving their full potential in life;
5. Make positive contribution: being involved with the community and society and not engaging in anti-social or offending behaviour. (Frederickson and Cline, 2009, p.65).
6. To achieve these five outcomes, all agencies (multi agency) working with children with learning difficulties were encouraged to work together to protect children and to support them achieve their aspirations. (Hodkinson and Vickerman, 2009). The Every Child Matters: Chang for Children (DfES, 2005)
The government put forward initiatives on how they are going to increase opportunities and provision of Inclusive education for children with learning difficulties in England to make Inclusive education effective. These would be outlined below.
GOVERNMENT POLICY INITIATIVES
According to the Centre for Studies on Inclusive Education, every local authority has to annually to devise, publish, implement and report on a policy on special educational needs. The guide is designed to encourage and support schools in the ongoing requirements of such policy to make it more inclusive for all children and young people. In addition, the above policy initiative shows commitment to the special needs rather than curriculum and methods adaptations. Hence, policy continuously committing itself to segregated education in the name of inclusive education. Although, to some extent children still benefit from these segregated programmes and as mentioned before that inclusive education is a process which some researchers believe that it has its roots in segregation.
The Theory and Practice of Inclusive Education for the 5 to 19 year olds
This is a process that counteracts old, 19th century theories and models of segregation such as beliefs in normalcy, genetics the medical definition of difficulties and IQ. (Hick et al. 2009). According to Child (1997) in general the 19th century and a substantial part of the 20th century was typified by an exploration of learning and teaching styles. Educationalists became more focused on meeting the needs of the individual learner. This focus was catalysed by the work of child development and psychology specialists who were working in the field of children and adults with specific learning difficulties. (Hick et al. 2009). These specialists were interested to explore learning strategies that would enable learners with specific difficulties to get the best possible experience from their formal education. (Baron-Cohen et al. 1993). Theorists such as Gardner who introduced the theory of multiple intelligences and others such as Hebb (1949, cited in Birch 1997) whose argument identified the environment factors as playing a major role in human learning and therefore influencing the way society view people with learning difficulties, leading to humanist ways of perceiving people with learning difficulties socially, educationally and economically.
Having mentioned the above, the practical implementation of the above inclusive theories and models in schools in England in general as viewed by Gates (1997) includes among other factors, the Code of Practice (2002) which gave the framework of how inclusive education should be delivered in partnership with LEA, schools, parents and social services. (Hodkinson and Vickerman, 2009). This framework urged LEAs and schools to take into consideration the rights of children with SEN and that these children should not be discriminated within education. It required that all children with special needs are admitted to their local schools through the normal admissions procedures and that children with specific complex needs who have statements must not be refused admission on the ground that the school could not meet their special needs.
Teachers are required to work with parents in drawing up the children individual plans basing on the child statement, which teachers strive to implement in their daily teaching, developing those areas where children show strengths. (Gates, 1997). Parents, carers and voluntary organisations participate in the annual reviews of the children’s plans or statements. Coupe and Porter (1986), notice that voluntary organisations also offer help such as emotional, personal, and social information, to both parents and children. The example of some of these services could be advocacy services where children’s interests are further supported to college or work placements as they prepare to leave secondary schools. Voluntary organisations also offer drop ins for parents according to individual parents needs. Yet teachers also receive training on how to cater for children’s special needs in the mainstream classes, so that children with learning difficulties can benefit from the teachers approaches to inclusive teaching. (Coupe and Porter 1986). According to Coupe and Porter (1986), schools have a duty to notify parents about local voluntary organisations available for them.
The above therefore, shows that inclusive education has a theoretical backing from psychologists and is also implemented through use of anti-discrimination Code of Practice. The use of voluntary resources in the practice of inclusive education also helps to make inclusion possible. However, in chapter four the 1988 Education Act was mentioned which clarify those children with specific needs might not access all aspects of the mainstream national curriculum, so that at the end of the day the child could be doing two curriculum and therefore that still means that England is still pursuing segregated education. for even if theory, schools, LEAs, parents and NGOs play their roles as discussed in this chapter, the fact that some children may not access the national curriculum because of their specific needs as included in 1988 Education Act, may still mean that they are excluded from the mainstream education. In other words England still channels resources into special and integrated education rather than in inclusive education. However, as previously mentioned that concepts and practices such as integrated education, special education are progressive start in the process of inclusive education.
CHILDREN, PARENTS AND RESEACHERS PERSPECTIVES ON INCLUSIVE EDUCATION
The Code of Practice for Special Educational Needs (DfES, 2001) places a duty on LEAs and schools to promote pupils to participate in assessment of their learning needs and in the evaluation of their individual education plans:
Children and young people with Special Educational Needs have a unique knowledge of their own needs…… and views about what sort of help they would like……They should, where possible, participate in all the decision-making processes that occur in education including the setting of learning and contributing to Learning Education Plans. (DfES, 2001, 27).
The code emphasises that children should be give a chance to make decision about their education, Ward (2008) states that if inclusive education is to be effective, voices of children should be listened to. Nind (2003) also state that:
If we wish to develop inclusion we need to accept all individuals having control of their own lives, having a say in the running of organisations that represent them and affecting the process of the institutions that dominate much that happens to them and around them. (cited in Ward, 2008,p. 39).
Lee (1992) discusses how inclusive education has empowered him to be independent and included within his society. Lee talks about how he was excluded when he was in a special school and that their curriculum was not like the one in the mainstream school. According to Lee, inclusive education can be effective if pupils are given enough resources and teachers who are trained to look after children with learning disabilities.
However, Hodkinson (2009) points out that those children with special educational needs are not always accepted by other children within the mainstream school, he argues there are more likely to be bullied than being accepted by their classmates. Cater and Spencer (2006) adds to this by saying that children with special educational needs have a higher chance of being bullied than their peers. This point out that including children with learning difficulties in mainstream schools could both advantages and disadvantages for the child.
According to the Code of Practice (DfES, 2001), parents are recognised as important in decision making of their children educational provision and enabling children with learning difficulties to achieve their potentials. The inclusion of parents in making decision on children’s placements in mainstream education has made parents feel inclusive education is important in including their children in education. Although some parents are still concerned that their children’s needs are still not met within the mainstream school, some parents consider inclusive education to be the best for their children. Parents of children with complex needs are concerned that mainstream schools are not designed to include their children especially where a child will require the use of special equipments or trained teachers who are experienced to cater for their need. These findings were based on the research that was done by Tissot (2011).
This chapter presents data on inclusive education for the 5 to 19 years old in England, though some data may apply to the 2 year olds as well. Data for literature review and other chapters will be used in this chapter.
CSIE, (2002) points out that the first legal duty on LEAs to integrate pupils with learning difficulties to enact was in the 1981 Education Act. Gates (1997) mentions that the Act gave formal recognition to the Warnock report recommendations, placing a duty on local education authorities to identify the needs of children aged 2 t0 19 years through a process of multi-disciplinary assessments and statements involving parents, social services, teachers, education psychologists and medical professionals. The Act also gave a provision for an independent agency chosen by the parent, might be Advocacy Agencies. It also recommended that ‘wherever possible, the special educational needs of children should be met in an ordinary school’.
The analysis of the above Act shows that the Act does not fully commit itself to inclusive education in the sense that it talks about integration not inclusion. The literature review referred to Gates (1997), who discussed integration as referring to a process where the child’s special needs are catered for in an ordinary or mainstream school. However, this is not inclusion but a way of transferring exclusion into the mainstream school. It is a medical was of viewing learning difficulties and is actually a common practice in the UK since the Warnock Report. Stubbs (2002), argues that integration focuses on the individual child not the system. It does not attempt to adapt the mainstream curriculum nor the teachers themselves to the need of the child but brings the special needs teacher with a special syllabus, for the special child within the mainstream school. Hence the child continues to experience segregation.
For Rumstemier (2002), views inclusive education not about integration of children or students with learning difficulties with children in the mainstream, but as being about a total approach to social inclusion in the sense that Government must commit itself in terms of policy and practice in adapting mainstream curriculum, funding, teacher education, schools and society into inclusion. Teachers for instance becoming ‘Jacks of all trades in catering for the children’s individual differences in order to avoid specialisation on particular children since that would mean segregation or discrimination. Now because we are still at this stage where children are still segregated or discriminated against in the mainstream, as shown then the claim to inclusion is not effective at all, for inclusive education is about removing barriers to inclusion and that segregation remains the largest barrier.
However, as discussed in the literature review that integration is part of the process of inclusion. For Stubbs (2000) adds that integration or mainstreaming usually lead to inclusive education. In other words inclusive education is a process which at times may begin with practices such as integration, special education. Hence Hewitt (1999) identifies that in the UK research studies indicate that the cognitive abilities of children with learning difficulties increase when integration in a regular classroom. For example, when comparing integrated children to segregated children, Hewitt (1999) found that the mean academic performance of the integrated children was in 80% while that of the segregated children was 50%.
However, as long as the integration system remains exclusive, children are still not accessing mainstream curriculum in England, with their cognitive abilities tested along a special needs syllabus, then the programme is not inclusive. For inclusion is about the ability to access mainstream life chances, it is not about increasing cognitive abilities. Talking about cognitive abilities as Hewitt (1999) does, once again means discrimination for children with special education. It only helps to show how difficult it is for policy makers and think-tanks to define inclusive education.
Rumstemier (2002) points out that in January 2002 a new statutory framework for inclusion came into force, strengthening the right to education in mainstream schools for children with statements of special educational needs. The 1996 Act was amended by part 1 of Special Educational Needs and Disability Act (SENDA) 2001, so that all children with statements must be educated in a mainstream school unless this would be ‘detrimental to the education of other children or against parental wishes. LEA can only refuse to place a child with a statement in a mainstream school if it can demonstrate that there are no reasonable steps it can take to prevent the child’s placement there.
The analysis of the above information shows that once again the Act emphasis special need rather than in inclusive education and there are implications here that some children could be refused places in schools as long as the LEAs could justify their decisions. Once again policy commits itself to segregated education in the name of inclusion. For commitment to special needs means that special teachers are transferred into the mainstream to meet the needs of ‘special children’ there. It really looks as if the education policy in England has difficulties in defining inclusive education and therefore meaning that education resources are continuously channelled to special needs and integrated programmes. This is supported by Farrell (2004) who argues that there is continued uncertainty in government policy and practice about the definition of inclusive education, not only in the UK but around the world. Farrell (2004) found that the following approaches were often referred to as inclusion; special needs, special education, team teaching, integration, mainstreaming and argues that all that is not inclusion at all. England’s inclusive education programme is therefore not effective because it is in fact segregated education that we are pursuing not inclusion.
The above being the case, CSIE reports on current issues by noting that new statistics for England revealed very little progress towards inclusion nationally, between the periods 2002 to 2004 where the percentage of 0 to 19 years old placed in special schools and other segregated settings by LEAs fell from 0.84% in 2002 (103.721 pupils) to 0.82% in 2004 (101,612 pupils).
With reference to the above statistics, Gates (1997) discussed the Code of Practice which requires all children with special need who are admitted to their local school to do so through the normal admissions procedures and that children with specific complex needs who have statements must not be refused admission on the ground that the school could not meet their special needs. Teachers are required to work with parents in drawing up the children individual plans basing on the child statement, which teachers strive to implement in their daily teaching. However, the fact that some children with learning difficulties access mainstream curriculum where others do not, as already mentioned that in this research that inclusive education is argued to be a process which begins with practices such as integration, special needs and mainstreaming. In other words within the above mentioned 84% integration is seen and it is once again unfortunate that these programme across England, hence the 82%. This therefore, shows continuous bias towards segregation making inclusion ineffective. (Frederickson and Cline, 2009).
CSIE further argues that one of the barriers to inclusive education in England is that society is still not convinced that inclusive education could be a reality, taking into account the social model versus the medical model debate, as discussed in the literature review. Looking at Synder (1999)’s observation it shows that society is not convinced at all, for Synder observed that different children need different services. For example, children with emotional or behavioural difficulties, usually require high degrees of support from skilled professionals to succeed in school. Inclusive education always disregards that and places them in schools where teachers are not skilled to cater for their different needs and therefore these children do not benefit from the inclusive education at all. So there is still a medical model view that some children can never be fully included, hence CSIE observed that England is abandoning inclusive education in favour of more segregating programmes, hence showing the ineffectiveness of inclusive education in England.
Outcomes of the Study: Negative and Positive
The outcomes of this study are based on the critical analysis outlined previously, though other examples from other chapters could be referred to. The study has therefore found that inclusive education for the 5 to 19 year olds in England is not effective. In the first place English legislation and policy are not certain about what inclusive education is and how it could be implemented and therefore there is continuous reference to special needs and integration, as inclusive education with resources channelled to these segregated programmes. There is also continuous reliance on parental rights and responsibilities in the children’s decision making processes such as in children assessments, drawing up plans or statements and annual reviews therefore undermining children’s rights to make decisions about their own lives .This highlights a general failure to value children with learning difficulties, hence making their inclusion limited and difficult.
Also government policy has not succeeded in looking at inclusive education in a holistic approach. As previously discussed the fact that there have been attempts to make the national syllabus inclusive, however some children still do special needs syllabus in mainstream school because of their difficulties are said to be severe. This goes on to show that there are children that will never be included in the mainstream school because of the learning difficulty.
It is still voluntary sector and other individual universities responding to train teachers for inclusion but the government is not doing much to make this compulsory for all universities to train them. This demonstrates a lack of commitment and seriousness on the part of policy makers.
There also continues to be use of discriminative language such as Special Educational Needs and the term ‘Disability’ in legislation, policy and practice instead of such inclusive terms as ‘learning difficulties’. This reinforces a Medical Model way of viewing learning difficulties which continues stigmatizing and negative views which impacts on the goal of inclusion. Society still views the social model as a theory far from practice and therefore is not convinced that inclusive education can be a reality. This supports the view that different children need different services. For example, children with emotional or behavioural difficulties usually require high degrees of support from skilled professionals to succeed in school. Inclusive education always disregards that and places them in schools where teachers have not much knowledge on how to cater for their different needs and therefore these children do not benefit from the inclusive education, is still largely shared by society including policy makers.
Continuous criticism by inclusive activists of such special needs resources as Special needs teachers and statements making it difficult for inclusion to benefit children with severe learning difficulties
There are also positive outcomes and messages relating to inclusive education for instance, the fact that England has already began practices of moving children with learning difficulties from segregation education to inclusion. This is the social model of disability for viewing children with learning difficulties and it is a positive step towards social inclusion, social justice, and fighting discrimination for children with learning difficulties. Because to some extent other researchers have argued that practices such as integration, special needs are not all that bad, for there is a degree of inclusion in them. This is why the research looks at how effective inclusive education for special children is in England. However, it is also sad that this research identified that these practices are also abandoned in England in favour of more segregation practice.
This research recommends that, for inclusive education to be effective in England, the following should happen:
1. The government should make it compulsory for teacher education to include inclusive methodology in order to enable teachers to cater for individual differences in classrooms. This will eradicate the use of SEN teachers in mainstream schools since this discrimination against children with learning difficulties.
2. The national curriculum in England should be made accessible to all children, irrespective of the nature of their difficulties. This would enable all children to access national education as a life chance and therefore give mainstream opportunities to children and people with learning difficulties. Again they will be prepared for the employment sector and other mainstream life chances, while making society inclusive. For inclusiveness is currently not evidenced in the rest of society as people with learning difficulties continue to experience social exclusion.
3. The rights of the child should override the rights of their parents, through use of independent advocacy. For some parents believe in segregated education for their children with learning difficulties, maybe because they still cling to traditional beliefs and this could oppress the modern interests of the child. Sometimes parents may prefer segregated education because they feel their children will be safe from being bullied or discrimination.
4. Policy must take the initiatives of ending discriminating language such as Special Needs or Disability because these continue to reflect social discrimination and normalise social inequalities.
5. Too much criticism of the medical model by activism has led to policy confusion over how to cater for individual differences in inclusive education. For instance things like ‘statements’ have been criticised. Hence making it difficult for teachers to understand individual needs.
To conclude, this research collected, presented and analysed data about the effectiveness of inclusive education for 5 to 19 years old children with learning difficulties in England. Outcomes from the English experience showed that inclusive education is not effective in England. There is continuous reliance on parental rights and responsibilities in the children’s decisions about their own lives, even though the government put forward policies seeking to promote the views and decisions. Acts like the Mental Capacity Act 2005, do not cater for children below the age of 16, hence these children will continue to be seen as not having capacity to make their own decision. Again there is not much effort made by the government in England to make national syllabus accessible to all children as well as include inclusive methodology in teacher education so that teachers could cater for individual differences effectively in classrooms. Hence a view that some children will never be included in mainstream education because of their disability, especial those children with severe disabilities.
There is continuous use of discriminating language such as Special Educational Needs, Disability, instead of more inclusive terms. Hence this is a medical model viewing of learning difficulties which make inclusion difficult. Further, society and policy makers still see the social model as a theory far from practice. Continuous criticism by inclusive activists of such special needs resources such as Special Needs teachers and statement, making it difficult for inclusion to benefit children with severe learning difficulties.
The research however found some positive practices in English inclusive programme and these include the fact that England has already begun such practices as integration, special needs and the social model versus the medical model debate. While working towards inclusive education in England, it would be ideal to acknowledge that this policy has brought about changes on how children with learning disabilities are viewed within the society. Again this programme gives parents a choice of where they want their children to be educated, whereas before children with learning difficulties could only be educated in special school. This is seen as a positive step towards inclusive education and social justice for children with learning difficulties and as tool of fighting discrimination for children with learning difficulties in England.
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