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Inclusion does NOT mean mainstreaming

Inclusion does NOT mean mainstreaming

Since 1978, Baroness Warnock’s UK government commissioned report, on special education needs, has been used to drive an agenda of mainstreaming for all in education. Almost 30 years later, in 2006, she published a review in which she said:

For a child with Asperger’s, the transition from primary to secondary school may be traumatic, even catastrophic. Such a child may no longer even pretend to keep up, feeling defeated by the inevitable demands of the school environment: the bustle and clamour, the pushing and shoving, the rushing from one classroom to another, the need to top speed whatever the activity, the teachers who are different every hour of the day, and many of whom are in the school only temporarily. Some of these horrors can be mitigated to such children if they have a personal assistant, but it is unlikely that any school can provide the level of assistance they need, all day and every day. Moreover, excessive reliance on assistant can present its own problems, not least feelings of dependence and inferiority.

The tragic result some children with autistic difficulties is trauma and even regression. I am convinced that for such children, and for those with ADHD and other behavioural problems, what is needed is a mixture of care and small class teaching in the environment of a small school. Without such an environment, education will be impossible: they will constantly be too anxious and miserable to learn. They may begin to refuse school; they may become self-destructive or suicidal; they may be induced to stay at school only by antidepressant drugs. For such children inclusion is a nightmare. If they are to flourish and benefit from education, they need a relatively protected environment of a small or smallish special school. It is really not enough to say that the mainstream schools must so change as to accommodate them. However tolerant in support of the policies, and however understanding the members of staff, there are limits to what can realistically be achieved in mainstream schools, given the diversity of children’s needs in a finite available resources.

Mary Warnock (2006)