Centre for Studies on Inclusive Education

supporting inclusion, challenging exclusion

news from 2000

End of year review

Government and LEA trends

Plans for local education authorities to develop inclusion continued apace in 2000 with financial input from the Government to improve accessibility to school buildings and the curriculum. Inclusion plans covered children with emotional difficulties as well as those with physical and learning difficulties.

Proposed closures of special schools were announced in many areas. In Coventry it was stated that the Governments inclusion policy was likely to lead to all of the city's 11 special schools closing. In Tunbridge Wells a special school became a primary school as part of a reorganisation of special needs provision and elsewhere there was emphasis on the value of links between mainstream and special schools. Other authorities announcing reorganisation plans involving reviews of special schools included Lambeth, Norwich, Greenwich, Barnsley, Gloucestershire, Plymouth, Blackpool, Southend and Sandwell. Bolton education chiefs promised that after a five year period of mainstream development, all parents of disabled children could have a place in mainstream schools if they wanted it. A similar promise was made by Hounslow. Warwickshire had its proposed special needs reorganisation plan turned down by Government but campaigners in Gloucestershire failed to convince the Government that it should reject inclusion plans in that authority.

Meanwhile Government continued to emphasise the need for special schools leading to criticism that its thinking on inclusion was muddled. Graham Barton, chairman of the the Gloucestershire Special Schools Protection League, said:'On one hand they are saying inclusion is the cornerstone and in the next breath they are saying special schools are very important'.

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Mainstream developments

Mainstream schools were asked to adopt a new approach to inclusion which concentrated on identifying barriers to learning in schools rather than 'special needs' or deficits in children.

The 'Index for Inclusion' published by the Centre For Studies on Inclusive Education in March was sent to all 26,000 English primary and secondary schools. According to the publication, which guides schools through a process of inclusive development, the language of 'special needs education' is a potential barrier to inclusive practice. The Index blames the label for focusing on students' problems and deflecting attention from barriers to learning and participation within the school system. It challenges schools to examine their own part in excluding children from education.

There was also a warning that while classroom assistants working alongside teachers were a welcome development for inclusion, worrying trends which could lead to further segregation were emerging. This happened when assistants were inappropriately attached to individual children rather than providing extra support to classes as a whole. Concerns were also expressed that introducing classroom assistants to replace lost support teacher posts would not provide the same quality of education.

A report to mark the start of Autism Week in May found that children with autism and Asperger syndrome were 20 times more likely to be excluded from school than their peers. The report found that teachers across the UK send home autistic children of all abilities because they lack the necessary expertise, time and specialist support.

Research from Portsmouth University due to be published in Autumn was said to show that teenagers with Down's Syndrome progressed much better in mainstream secondary schools than in special schools. According to lead researcher, Professor Sue Buckley, 'We show that there has been almost no progress in special schools since the 1980s. We can not see any reason for any child being there.'

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Legislative moves

The introduction into Parliament of the Special Educational Needs and Disability in Education Bill was a major event in 2000. The Bill sought to extend anti-discrimination legislation to cover education and make it illegal not to take reasonable steps to accommodate disabled students. The setting up of the Disability Rights Commission was also an important development. Bert Massie, 51, formerly director of the Royal Society for Disability and Rehabilitation, became the Commission's first chair.

A record £254,362 compensation for stress was awarded to a teacher who was forced to cope single-handedly with 11 special needs and disturbed children in a mainstream class. The teacher warned that there were thousands of other teachers 'just as needy' struggling to integrate special needs and disturbed children without the necessary resources.

In December, teenager Kimbeley Jhally, who has learning difficulties, was elected to the UK Youth Parliament. Kimbeley, who represents the Canterbury and Swale area, had already spoken in the House of Commons. Her manifesto tackled such hard hitting issues as drug and alcohol abuse and stamping out pollution. She said:'I have trouble with reading and writing but I am determined never to let that stop me doing things'.

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Family struggles

Cases continued of disabled children being sent to special schools against the wishes of their families and there were also complaints of children being forced to attend mainstream schools.

In Kent a five-year-old autistic boy had to be educated at home while education officials tried to resolve difficulties over his request for a mainstream school. Single mother Karen Hart withdrew her daughter from mainstream school complaining she could not cope, even though Oxfordshire education chiefs said they had done everything possible to cater for her special needs. In Lambeth a mother complained that the Council's special needs reorganisation had led to her son having to change schools twice in two years causing unreasonable strain. In Pinner, London, a boy with Asperger's Syndrome was permanently excluded from school because of 'unpredictable and aggressive behaviour'. According to his mother the school could not provide enough support for her son and he 'wasn't given a chance'. Zahrah Manuel, of West Hampstead, London, eventually won her long struggle for a mainstream secondary placement following a hearing in the High Court. Her mother said:'I just wanted her to have an ordinary good life and not be isolated or over protected.'

A brother and sister won a legal battle against their mother who sent them to a school for severely disabled children because she was convinced, against medical advice, that they were autistic. Three Scottish appeal court judge backed a ruling by a sheriff that the mother was seriously impairing her children's development. He found that the 14-year-old boy and 11-year-old girl could cope with ordinary school.


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January

Braithwaite Special School, Bradford, is likely to move to the grounds of Bronte Middle School in 2001. After consultations of parents, schools, governors, trade unions and MPs, the majority voted in favour of the move to retain provision for two to nineteen-year-olds. The school will accommodate 85 pupils with moderate learning difficulties on Bronte’s ground floor. Special provision for pupils with autism is planned. But concerns were expressed about plans to site a pupil referral unit on the same campus.
Bradford Telegraph and Argus, January 10, 2000.

A woman who helped many children with special needs stay in mainstream schools has retired after 27 years. Elizabeth Barrett helped set up the learning support service in Buckinghamshire when she joined the council in 1964. Senior support worker, Guillaume Scourfield paid tribute to his colleague’s tireless determination: ‘There are a lot of children, now grown up, who owe Elizabeth a debt of gratitude. She has travelled tens of thousands of miles across this county as a support teacher and she has helped bring a lot of much needed equipment into schools,’ he said.
Bucks Herald, January 12, 2000.

Education Secretary, David Blunkett, promised a reinforced commitment to children with special needs on a visit to Dr John Worrall School in Atterclife. New legislation is planned later this year, he confirmed, which will compel authorities to provide greater support and give clearer and more effective rights to parents. Mr Blunkett said that while there was a move to include more children in mainstream, there would always be a need for schools like John Worrall. The school caters for children with serious emotional and behavioural difficulties.
Doncaster Star, January 13, 2000.

A brother and sister have won a legal battle against their mother, who sent them to a school for children with severe disabilities, because she is convinced, against medical advice, that they are autistic. Three appeal court judges have now backed a ruling by a sheriff that the mother, who was said to be conducting a ‘crusade’, is seriously impairing the children’s development. The sheriff decided that the 14-year-old boy and 11-year-old girl can cope ‘quite easily’ with normal school. Both children have been in foster care since May 1997, and the case will how go back to a children’s hearing to decide what should happen next. The case at the Court of Session was brought in the children’s name and the court was told that there was no suggestion that they were in any way unable to understand the issues involved.
The Herald (Glasgow), January 14, 2000.

A Great Barr school has been praised by government inspectors for its commitment to integrating physically disabled students. Of the 432 pupils at Great Barr Primary, Aldridge Road, 26 are disabled. The praise comes as part of the recent Ofsted report. The report said: ‘The integration of physically disabled pupils is very effective and is of great benefit to all in the school community. They receive very good support and make good progress.’
Great Barr and Erdington Chronicle, January 14, 2000.

A deaf boy’s 190 fellow pupils have learnt to communicate in sign language so that he can stay at his primary school. Josh Bryant, 7, who is profoundly deaf, faced having to leave Clinton Park school in the Lincolnshire village of Tattershall to go to a special school. But lessons in signing were set up after several pupils expressed a willingness to learn so they could communicte with Josh who is in Year Two. Maria Harrison, a sign language teacher, said that a school choir whose members sign as they sing had been set up and Josh’s teachers and parent helpers were being taught to sign. She said: ‘We never dreamt we would get such a good response from other youngsters. It shows that deafness need not be so much a disability and at the same time the young ones are getting awareness of disability issues at a young age.’
The Times, January 19, 2000.

An Ofsted inspection has found that the costs of provision for pupils with special educational needs in Greenwich, London, are high and still rising with more than half the children with statements remaining in special schools. Money spent on non-mainstream support is said to be too high with a quarter of the SEN budget going on the pupil referral unit, behaviour support and fees for independent special schools. Meanwhile money spent on educational psychology and specialist SEN support services for pupils in the mainstream remains low. The report recommends an ‘urgent programme of action’ on implementing the authority’s inclusion policy; prompt completion of statements; reviewing the criteria to reduce the proportion of children with statements of SEN and switching resources to support SEN children in the mainstream, particularly those with behavioural needs.
Greenwich Mercury, January 19, 2000.

Disabled children in Scarborough are to benefit from new government legislation to give them rights in the classroom. Schools minister Jacqui Smith has relaunched the Special Educational Consortium which brings together a wide range of groups, including parents and teachers, who are involved with the welfare of children with special needs. She revealed plans to introduce a Disability in Education Bill which gives disabled pupils new rights to ensure they are treated fairly, ensures schools and local authorities improve access for disabled pupils and make reasonable adjustments to policies.
Scarborough Evening News, January 24, 2000.


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February

Schools Minister, Jacqui Smith, and Disability Equality in Education have launched the National Disability Trainers’ Network. The National Network will provide training by 100 disabled trainers to schools and colleges. The training is designed to help schools and colleges provide an appropriate and high quality education to disabled pupils alongside their peers. The Minister said: ‘By drawing on first hand experience, the trainers will help to break down barriers and challenge the preconceived ideas of those without disabilities. The trainers will demonstrate to all that being disabled isn't in itself a barrier to achievement and participation within society. As positive role models they will help develop a greater respect for, and understanding of, the value of diversity.’
Disabled and Supportive Carer, February 2000.

A mental health charity is calling for Notts youngsters to be taught about the effects bullying has on people with learning disabilities. Nottingham Mencap’s appeal for the subject to be included in the National Curriculum follows a country-wide report, ‘Living in Fear’. The report found that nine out of ten people with a learning disability had been bullied in the past year and two-thirds were bullied at least once a month. Bullying ranges from daily name-calling and harassment to threats and physical assault.
Nottingham Evening Post, February 10, 2000.

Plans for a £2.8 million drive to keep more kids in the classroom and off the streets are being finalised by Sheffield Council. Most of the cash will be handed directly to schools to give them the incentive to keep pupils who otherwise they might exclude. The changes will see replacement of the unit which teaches children who are not in mainstream with two smaller units. The first will concentrate on getting children back to school, while the second will look beyond formal schooling to college and work-based training.
The Star Sheffield, February 10, 2000.

A family’s struggle to integrate their autistic child into mainstream schooling has suffered a setback. Isaac Pursglove's isolating condition makes it difficult for him to interact with others and he began throwing fits, kicking and punching other pupils and staff and generally causing disruption. However, head teacher David Wood said: ‘We think this is just a hiccup. There were bound to be difficulties integrating Isaac into the school. I think he found the classroom over-stimulating. What we are doing at the moment is trying a new approach, putting him in a quieter environment where he can concentrate on what his teacher is telling him.’
Kent Messenger (Tunbridge Wells and Weald), February 11, 2000.

More than a third of children excluded from primary school and two-thirds from secondary never return to mainstream school, according to research published today. The findings come in a survey for the charity Include, which campaigns for the re-integration of excluded children. The research analyses figures for the academic year 1997–98, when Government statistics showed 12,298 pupils were excluded from school. Of those 1,500 were primary school pupils, 400 aged under 7. The survey also found that a disproportionate number of excluded pupils had special educational needs.
Manchester Metro (News Daily), February 14, 2000.

Barnsley Council is to close down two special schools and concentrate facilities on the site of a third. Among the 3,500 objections to the scheme are a number from parents complaining that their childen will have further to travel to the new super special school. The Council has said it hopes that no child will have to spend more than 45 minutes travelling to the new school.
Yorkshire Post (Leeds), February 15, 2000.

More than 100 parents attended a meeting with county education officials in Stafford over a review of special needs education in the county. Eunice Finney of the Staffordshire Federation of Parent Teacher Associations said parents were concerned the review could result in their children being transferred from their existing schools. She said: ‘I think the review is going to suggest more integration but there was a warning from parents saying how can these teachers cope’.
Cannock Express and Star, February 18, 2000.

Bownham Park will be the first of Gloucestershire’s four doomed special schools to shut. The countdown to closure began yesterday when county councillors agreed that the Stroud School should go by July 2003. But members of the special education needs development sub-committee extended the proposal's public consultation period by two months. After that they will begin selecting the next special school to close. The decision came after county head of SEN, Dr Stephen Huggett's report that Bownham Park should close because of falling pupil numbers. Pupils due to go to Bownham Park in September 2003 will go to mainstream schools instead. But Graham Barton, chairman of the Special Schools Protection League, said pupils were not being referred to the school.
Gloucestershire Echo, February 15, 2000.

Campaigners battling to halt the closure of special schools in Gloucestershire say they will take their campaign all the way to 10 Downing Street. Members of the Special Schools Protection League's Inclusion Action Group met at Alderman Knight School in Tewkesbury last night to fine-tune their plan of attack, which includes setting up a web site to galvanise worldwide support. The campaign to save the first of four special schools to close is in full swing with petitions circulating all over the county. Group chairman, and county councillor Gordon Shurmer (Con, Ashchurch and Tewkesbury) said: ‘If we lose Bownham Park School it would set a dangerous precedent. Then we would have a huge battle to fight.’
Gloucestershire Echo, February 16, 2000.

A massive shake-up of special education in Sandwell has been given the green light. A special independent review body has now backed the plans put forward by education chiefs. Under the proposals schools which cater for children with severe learning difficulties and moderate learning difficulties will close from August. The schools to close are Albert Bradford, Firs, Glenvale, Regent, Arden, Blakeley, Fitzwarren, Knowle and Millfield. New establishments in mainstream schools will be set up under the proposals. Bob Shelley, chairman of the independent review body, said one of the main concerns from consultations with parents was that children would be forced into mainstream. He said: ‘Having received assurances from the LEA that this will not be the case, the schools organisation committee has given its approval to the review proposals.’
Sandwell Express and Star, February 18, 2000.

The high standard of teaching and quality of leadership at Green Hedges School, Cambridge, has been praised by school watchdogs, Ofsted. The school caters for 66 pupils aged between two and 19 with severe, profound and multiple disabilities. Pupils with autism have been spending some sessions at Fawcett Primary School to integrate them into mainstream. The inspectors said: ‘They make good progress, and some pupils make very good progress in their communication, socialisation, self-esteem, confidence and academic ability. It is often difficult to know which pupils in school are from Green Hedges and this is a clear measure of the success of the provision in promoting good progress against the special needs of every child.’
Cambridge Evening News, February 24, 2000.


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March

‘Money for Inclusion’ is a leaflet from the Centre for Studies on Inclusive Education. It describes four sources of funding available to mainstream schools to support children with disabilities, learning difficulties or challenging behaviour. It explains what can be funded and how to apply.
Child Education, March 2000.

Special schools often present negative attitudes based on the medical model of disability, according to a recent report. Whose Voice Is It Anyway, the Alliance for Inclusive Education’s well-researched report by Christine Wilson and Rowen Jade, presents information on the current attitudes to disabled children in both special and mainstream schools. The enquiry project has shown that in general, special education in Britain is still based on the medical model of disability which tends to focus on peoples’ impairments and assumed limitations. Also it was clear that the attitudes of fellow pupils showed greater ability and insight into the day to day treatment of pupils with disabilities than many so-called ‘disability experts'.
Disability Times, March 2000.

Thousands of pounds have been wasted by Barnet Council in their fight to prevent a disabled girl being admitted into a Cricklewood School, according to the girl’s mother. Zarah Manuel, 12, has cerebral palsy and has been refused a place at Whitefield School in Claremont Road because her disability is said to be too severe. Her mother, Preethi, of Iverson Road, West Hampstead, applied for a judicial review in an attempt to force the council to back down. The review took place on Tuesday (February 29) and ordered both sides to talk the situation over before a final decision is made. Ms Manuel said: ‘The school said it did not have the resources to integrate my daughter or the time for the staff to spend with her. But they have spent thousands of pounds and hours and hours in liaison, in order to resist my child’s place. It would only have cost a small proportion of this to integrate my daughter into this school’.
Potters Bar and Cuffley Press, March 2, 2000.

Parents are to be consulted about how Gloucestershire’s controversial plan to include children with moderate learning difficulties in mainstream schools should be carried out. Families are to be consulted at a series of meetings about whether for example, the special needs pupils should be sent to a local school or specially resourced mainstream school. Under the plans the county’s four special schools will close. Assistant director of education, Tony Saunders, said: ‘Councillors have already approved the development plan following extensive consultation across the county last autumn. Now we must set about the task of putting it into practice’.
Gloucester Citizen, March 14, 2000.

A unique report carried out by young people with disabilities into their educational experiences was launched in Belfast today. For the first time in the UK, and possibly in Europe, a group of young people carried out and analysed research into the lives of other young people with disabilities. Save the Children and Disability Action worked with the group of nine called Educable, training them to research. They spoke to over 50 students in four special schools and two day centres about the choices available to them in education and social life.They concluded there was a clear picture of enforced segregation, at an early age, limited choice, unfulfilled potential and well meaning but stifled overprotection. One student commented: ‘We’re wrapped in cotton wool’.
Belfast Telegraph, March 14, 2000.

Education chiefs are hopeful a Sunderland special needs school can come out of special measures by summer. Last year inspectors from Ofsted, the Office for Standards in Education, decided Sunningdale School in Springwell needed the special measures after problems identified in in 1997 persisted. The school which takes in pupils between three and 12 who have problems coping with in mainstream education was originally planned to change as part of a review of special needs education in Sunderland. But the plan was rejected by the Department for Education last summer. Ofsted inspectors are due to visit the school in May.
Sunderland Echo, March 22, 2000.

Coventry has adopted the Government’s controversial policy of greater inclusion of children with learning difficulties in mainstream schools. Three years ago, a leading councillor, Dave Edwards, then chairman of Coventry’s education committee, admitted the Government’s inclusion policy was likely to lead to some of the city’s 11 special schools closing. Closure is not a word being bandied about in the current consultation, but merger or amalgamation surely means the same thing, no matter how council chiefs want to dress it up and disguise it. Dave Williams, senior education officer for special needs and pupil support, said the council had a responsibility to explore with schools, staff, governors, and parents, how provision for special needs can be enhanced. ‘We need to ask are we giving a full range of choice to parents. We are exploring how we fill any gaps in our provision. We want every child in the right place, at the right time, for the right reason with the right support’.
Evening Telegraph, March 23, 2000.

Colleges and universities will be able to deny disabled students entry to courses if they can not meet academic standards. But they will face court action if they fail to take ‘reasonable’ steps to accommodate disabled students. A new Bill, due before Parliament later this year, will extend anti-discrimination legislation to cover education, including the post-16 sector. A consultation document says that further and higher education institutions will not have to plan systematically to improve access for disabled students - unlike schools and education authorities. But they will have to make ‘reasonable adjustments to policies, practices, procedures and buildings to ensure courses are accessible'. In assessing what is reasonable the report suggests providers will need to consider, amongst other factors, the cost and practicality of the adjustment and disruption to others.
Times Educational Supplement, March 24, 2000.

Bert Massie, 51, is the first chairman of the Disability Rights Commission, the new anti-discrimination watchdog that will have similar powers to the commissions for racial equality and equal opportunities. Mr Massie was formerly director of the Royal Society for Disability and Rehabilitation (RADAR). It should be an auspicious year for disability rights. Apart from the establishment of the Commission, the Government is also introducing a Bill to extend anti-discrimination legislation law to disabled pupils and students in schools, colleges, and council-provided adult education.
Times Educational Supplement, March 24, 2000.

A 109-page guide to implementing inclusion sent this week to all 26,000 English primary, secondary and special schools is essential reading. The Index for Inclusion, published by the Centre for Studies on Inclusive Education in cooperation with Manchester University and Canterbury Christ Church University College, rips up much of the inclusion debate’s received wisdom. The language of ‘special needs education’ is described as a potential ‘barrier to inclusive practice’. The report blames the label for focusing on students’ problems and deflecting attention from ‘barriers to learning and participation’ within the system. The Index challenges schools to examine their own part in excluding children from education. All sections of the school community are involved in a model consultation process to make inclusive education central to school development plans.
Times Educational Supplement, March 31, 2000.

The Centre for Studies on Inclusive Education has approached the British Psychological Society with a request to endorse the ‘Inclusion Charter'. A working group has been set up convened by Gerv Leyden to prepare a position paper to inform the Society’s response. The working group is inviting feedback from all members of the Society. In particular it welcomes comments on the research perspective and the values and entitlements that underpin inclusive education.
The Psychologist, March 2000.

The ‘mums’ army’ has finally arrived. Local education authorities are now spending millions on unqualified classroom assistants. In many ways this development should be welcomed. The idea of having extra adults to work alongside teachers is a good one. But in practice it is creating some worrying trends. It seems that unqualified assistants can indeed foster more effective learning. But this will not be achieved by attaching them to individual pupils in ways that simply create new forms of segregation in our schools.
Times Educational Supplement, March 31, 2000.

The duty of schools and education authorities to ensure inclusive schooling for disabled youngsters will be enforced by the Office for Standards in Education. The new role results from the Government’s intention to extend anti-discrimination legislation to cover young people in schools and colleges. A new web site is available to help teachers provide for special needs pupils.


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April

The Special Schools Protection League has branded Gloucestershire County Council as ‘time wasters intent on pedalling a non-existent utopia’. It follows a meeting to discuss the closing of the first of the county’s four special schools. Graham Barton, Chairman of the League, claimed that the wishes of parents at the special school had been ignored and that retention of Bownham Park was not even a real consideration. Steve Huggett, Head of Special Educational Needs, said: ‘The meeting wasn’t about whether the plan was going ahead. It was always about how it was going ahead.’
Gloucestershire Echo, April 1, 2000.

The mother of a five-year-old boy with special educational needs has criticised a Jewish School for excluding her son because of ‘unpredictable’ and ‘aggressive’ behaviour. The boy, who has Asperger’s Syndrome, joined Moriah Jewish Day School in Pinner, London, last September and was permanently excluded last month. The mother maintained the school had not given her son enough extra support, particularly in the playground. ‘We have been told by medical professionals to send him through mainstream education,’ said the mother. ‘Moriah sounded ideal because of the small class sizes and the safe security-conscious surroundings. But there was not enough support available for him and he wasn’t given a chance. ‘In a letter informing the parents of the exclusion, the school’s governing disciplinary committee cited ‘serious breaches of the schools discipline policy’. Moriah head teacher, Alan Shaw, said that he could not comment on individual cases but the general situation was that the school had a number of pupils on the special needs register who were provided with additional support.
Jewish Chronicle, April 7, 2000.

A mother who struggled to get her disabled daughter into a mainstream school has won her fight in the High Court. Barnet’s Whitefield School, London, backed down minutes before a judicial hearing was due on March 14 and is now admitting 12-year-old Zahrah Manuel. Her mother, Preethi Manuel of Iverson Road, West Hampstead, said: ‘I just wanted her to have an ordinary, good life and not to be isolated or over-protected’.
Ham and High (Hampstead and Highgate Express), April 7, 2000.

Thousand of teachers stood to net a £1,000 pay boost yesterday following a court victory by the National Union of Teachers for three of its members. Durham County Council ruled that Ann Mawson, Catherine Haddon and Denise Hardy were entitled to be paid more because of their skills as special needs teachers. School governors have used the Government’s policy of including special needs pupils in mainstream classes to underpay thousands of teachers by ignoring their skills in assessing salaries. Deerness Valley Comprehensive and Durham County Council were ordered to cough up back pay of £35,000.
Morning Star, April 8, 2000.

All parents of children with special needs in Bolton will be able to demand their child is taught in a mainstream school within five years. Education chiefs are set to make the pledge in a new action plan currently being drawn up to promote the inclusion of children with special needs. Councillors were told that Bolton already has the third best record in the North West and Merseyside for educating special needs children in mainstream schools and just 1 per cent. of pupils attend special schools. But a report to the education and arts committee says that going below 1 per cent. will require a major drive and changes to the school curriculum, buildings, attitudes, images and role models.
Bolton Evening News, April 17, 2000.

Hopes are high among a group of campaigners battling to save Riverside Special School in Goole, East Riding. Outraged parents formed the action group, Parents Against Riverside Closure (PARC) and enlisted the help of governors and local councillors, as well as local MP Ian Cawsey in their fight. Jackie Hammond, who helped set up PARC, said parents knew the set up had to change at the school which was the only one in the county designated for childen with moderate learning difficulties. They wanted to see an expansion of services at the school which has places for a total of 70 childen but has only 48 pupils on roll at the moment. The school received a glowing OFSTED report in January. Mrs Hammond said that a letter from East Riding Education Committee Head of Education Resources, Duncan Nicholson, asked for parents’ responses to the DfEE suggestion that the school could be redesignated to include pupils who have moderate learning difficulties with other complex needs. ‘This is just what we wanted and we are really grateful that the Council seems to have listened to us’.
Goole Howden and Thorne Courier, April 20, 2000.

A Belfast mother has vowed to take her battle to have her disabled son educated in a mainstream school to the Equality Commission. Gail McKibbon was responding to the announcement that the rights of disabled people are to be officially protected by the commission. Northern Ireland Office Minister, George Howarth, described the move as ‘marking an historic development for people with disabilities’. David McKibbon has not attended school since 1996. Mrs McGibbon blames the education authorities for deciding he can no longer remain in a mainstream school.
Irish News (Belfast), April 20, 2000.

A massive overhaul of specialist teaching could give Surrey the lead in educating disturbed children. Experts working with the County Council have come up with a model system for integrating children with emotional and behavioural difficulties into mainstream schools. The plan addresses a review by former top school inspector, John Woodhouse, which found spiralling costs, poor staff recruitment, and high levels of expulsions in Surrey’s special schools. Mr Woodhouse’s model for Surrey proposes an early warning system to identify children with problems, better training and support for specialist teachers, more strategic and sensitive use of pupil referral units and nurture centres and an integrated approach between education, health and social services to create a support network for children, their families and schools. Councillors raised concerns about the impact of some aspects of the scheme but approved it in principle. Education officers will now consult with Surrey schools with the aim of presenting a further report in September.
Surrey Advertiser, April 28, 2000.


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May

Bullying is the main reason disabled children move from inclusive schools to special schools, says a new study from Edinburgh University. It also says that many problems result from social barriers rather than disability.
Junior Education, May 2000.

Campaigners fighting to save Gloucestershire’s special schools say their hopes of a lifeline from 10 Downing Street have been dashed by Tony Blair. The Prime Minister has snubbed a request to meet parents and campaigners who want to present a 20,000 name petition to him. In a lengthy letter, Mr. Blair said he had no power to influence LEA plans and proposals for reorganisation and it would be better to send the petition direct to the County Council. Mr. Blair also explained why he believed integrating special needs pupils into mainstream was in the best interests of children. ‘What we are seeking to do in partnership with parents, schools and LEAs is to create an environment which encourages greater inclusion, allows all pupils to achieve their full potential and also ensures that pupils’ special educational needs are appropriately and effectively met.’
Gloucestershire Echo, May 3, 2000.

A Tunbridge special school is preparing for a £100,000 major shake-up which will see it re-named and re-opened with a new role in the autumn. Waveney School, which currently takes special needs children aged five to 16, is to become a primary school when it is amalgamated with St George’s School in Tunbridge Wells which will take the secondary age-group. Both will be known as Oakley School and run by one governing body and one head teacher. Martin Absolom, who was previously head of St George’s, will be working closely with mainstream schools in two towns to re-integrate children with less complex learning difficulties.
Tunbridge Courier, May 5, 2000.

Walsall head teachers have expressed fears over the possibility of integrating special school pupils into mainstream education in a major shake-up. Many believe the borough’s education authority would not provide enough support for teachers. They fear that there would not be enough help for staff to teach children with serious special needs, especially those with behaviour problems. Their comments appear in a report by a consultant to Walsall Council’s school organisation committee. Plans to overhaul the education system have been in the pipeline for some time. They involve about 600 pupils in Walsall with learning, behavioural and physical disabilities.
Walsall Express and Star, May 6, 2000.

One of the Year 7 hearing pupils from Silverdale School, Sheffield, Philip Jacobs, contacted Yorkshire Television with a millennium promise. He pledged to learn sign language so he could communicate with pupils in the deaf unit, and in particular with Kasim Ahmed who is in his form. The result was a YTV film crew arriving at school. They filmed Kasim and Philip in a mainstream maths lesson and then interviewed them, the two of them signing together. They also filmed the weekly lunchtime sign language class. The lunchtime sign language class is taken by one of the teachers from the deaf unit and is open to anyone from the mainstream school.
The Star, Sheffield, May 10, 2000.

Several special schools look set to close or merge in a vigorous shake-up of special needs education in Lambeth, London. If Lambeth Council’s plans to reorganise seven of the borough’s ten special schools on top of two schools which are already earmarked for mergers with mainstream schools. If the ambitious plan – which affects more than 500 pupils – is accepted during consultation, there will be two fewer schools. Schools will either alter or close and re-open as merged schools. Among the schools under threat is Shelley School in Kennington, which recently won glowing praise from Ofsted inspectors.
South London Press, May 12, 2000.

A major shake-up of Norwich special schools is on the cards following a review of educational provision for special needs children. Project planning is due to begin next April. The LEA maintains 12 special schools in Norfolk at a cost of £8.8 million. The proposals are based on an inclusive approach to education that enables youngsters with additional needs to be educated alongside their peers, within their local communities wherever possible. Key recommendations include:
• Specialist provision in mainstream schools to support the inclusion of children with complex needs.
• Consideration of ways of achieving fair access to provision irrespective of geographic location.
• Special schools becoming centres of excellence, offering support and advice to mainstream schools.
Eastern Evening News (Norwich), May 15, 2000.

Children with autism and Asperger Syndrome are on average 20 times more likely to be excluded from school than their peers, according to a report to mark the start of Autism Week. One in five (21 per cent) children with the condition are excluded at least once, compared to 1.2 per cent. of the total population. The situation is even worse for more able children with autism – almost 30 per cent. of them have been thrown out of school. The National Autistic Society, which commissioned the survey ‘Inclusion and Autism is it Working?’, is calling for the situation to be addressed urgently. The report found that teachers across the UK send home autistic children of all abilities because they lack the necessary expertise, time and specialist support. For children with severe autism and those who are especially able, parents cite lack of training and understanding as their main gripes. Parents of more able children say sudden changes in curriculum or classroom organisation are common, avoidable causes of confusion and problem behaviour.
Northern Echo, Darlington, May 16, 2000.

Parents fighting the closure of a special needs school have won help with their court costs. Thornhill Special School in Hartlepool, is due to close at the end of the school year next year. The local education authority agreed the closure as part of its inclusive policy of integrating disabled pupils into mainstream schooling. But parents claim their children will suffer bullying and a worse education in mainstream schools. They want them to stay in Thornhill school because they received the full range of social and medical treatment and top quality education. The legal costs will be spent on taking the case to the European Court of Human Rights where parents will argue that the pupils have lost their rights to an education and have been treated like second class citizens.
Northern Echo, Darlington, May 17, 2000.

Special needs schools in the East Riding are set for a shake-up in a bid to boost falling numbers. Six of the region’s special schools are included under the proposals which follow consultation sessions with teachers and parents. The biggest changes will take place at Riverside School, in Goole, where pupils numbers will be increased and attendance criteria changed. The moves are likely to secure the long-term future of the school with Riverside being modified to cater for children with moderate learning difficulties and other complex needs. An East Riding Council spokesman said: ‘This is part of a massive exercise to re-evaluate special schools. Numbers are down across the country and there is a need to re-designate the responsibilities of East Riding Special Schools.’ The falling numbers follow a Government push to switch more special needs pupils into mainstream schools. A total of 739 special needs pupils are educated in the mainstream, way above the national average.
Hull Daily Mail, May 27, 2000.

Special schools will play a vital role in the future of education according to a Government minister. But Junior Education Minister, Jacqui Smith, said integrating children with special needs into mainstream schools was also a cornerstone of Government strategy as it benefited children both educationally and socially. Her comments came as two Gloucestershire MPs spoke during a Commons debate on Government policies towards special educational needs. Graham Barton, chairman of the Gloucestershire Special Schools Protection League, said the minister’s comments showed how muddled the policy is: ‘On the one hand they are saying inclusion is the cornerstone and in the next breath they are saying special schools are very important. We think all the children who could be included in mainstream education in Gloucestershire have been.’
Gloucestershire Echo, May 30, 2000.


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June

County Durham and Darlington schools are set to receive a £350,000 Government windfall to improve facilities for disabled pupils. The Schools Access Initiative application for 2000-01 will be used to provide such things as ramps and braille equipment for blind children in mainstream schools. Darlington will received £70,000, while Durham has been allocated £280,000. The Government has pledged £100m to the initiative over the next three years, and this year is releasing £30m to 1,900 schools throughout England to provide better access for disabled children.
Darlington and Stockton Times (Durham), June 2, 2000.

A major reorganisation of special schools in Warwickshire has been dealt a blow after the Government rejected the scheme. The proposals, estimated to cost up to £6 million, had been drawn up to meet the changing needs of pupils with learning difficulties in the county. The proposals had included closing Leyland and Griff special schools, which serve Nuneaton and Bedworth, and opening a new purpose-built unit in Nuneaton. Round Oak and Ridgeway special schools, which serve the central area of the county, would also have been amalgamated into a new unit in Warwick. Both units would have offer a range of education services for youngsters with moderate to severe learning difficulties. Warwickshire assistant county education officer, Mark Gore said: 'The first thing we have got to find out is why the Secretary of State rejected the scheme. We are urgently seeking a meeting with DfEE officials.' Mr Gore said special school numbers were falling as more parents of children with difficulties sought to have them included in mainstream.
Birmingham Post, June 6, 2000.

Consultation has officially started on radical plans to close seven schools and redevelop sixth forms, special needs education and early years provision in Greenwich, London. The controversial plan has already sparked a massive campaign against the closures but education chiefs insist they are essential to raise standards. Seven schools - Briset Road and Ruxley Manor primaries, Eaglesfield secondary, Maze Hill, Nine Acres, Churchfield and Brantridge special schools - are due for the axe.
New Shopper, Greenwich and Charlton, June 7, 2000.

Parents and carers of Kent children are being asked their views about a project to improve services for pupils with special or additional educational needs. They are being sent a newsletter from the County Council explaining how it is changing the way special or additional needs are being met in both special and mainstream schools, through a project called All Together Better. Kent County Council say that by working together and pooling resources schools will be able to draw on additional funding released by restructuring and cutting bureaucracy. This will enable it to extend parental choice and raise standards.
Kentish Gazette (Whitstable), June 8, 2000.

Demands for Richmond Council to rethink proposals to close Oldfield House School for children with emotional and behavioural difficulties remain unanswered. After a stormy meeting of the Community Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties Forum, Coun. Brian Miller, who is chair of the county's education committee, said the decision on any future consultation would rest with the full Council. The Council's proposals included: establishing two nurture groups to help younger children; setting up a bridging unit where pupils would receive short-term help while remaining on the register of a mainstream school; setting up a unit catering for the needs of pupils who have severe difficulties.
Richmond Comet, June 9, 2000.

Educational experts estimate that around £500,000 needs to be spent on special needs in Hounslow over the next three years if more children are to be integrated into mainstream education. Councillors have agreed to back the development of a three-year action plan to open up mainstream education for those parents who want it for their children. The move is in line with Government policy and requirements laid down by the proposed new Special Educational Needs and Disability Rights in Education Bill. Coun. Jagdish Sharma, for the Council's Executive, said: 'This new inclusive approach aims to ensure that children with special needs are not discriminated against. It will also ensure that parental choice is respected by eventually ensuring there is adequate provision in mainstream. schools.'
Hounslow Chronicle, June 15, 2000.

A distraught Rotherham mother has urged education chiefs to change their minds about sending her daughter to a school for severely handicapped pupils. Michaela Stosik, aged 11, who has Downs Syndrome, has been a pupil at mainstream Ashwood Primary for eight years and according to her Mum has come on in 'leaps and bounds'. But now education officials say from September Michaela must attend Hill Top Special School at Maltby. A Council spokesman said: 'Michaela's case went before a special needs panel and it was decided she would benefit from going to Hill Top. Her Mum has now been told that if she is unhappy she has the right to appeal.'
Rotherham Star, June 23, 2000.

Trendy teaching methods may be behind an explosion in the number of pupils classed as having 'special needs', it was claimed yesterday. An education expert said that most could simply be victims of a progressive system which had left them unable to read and write. Almost 20 per cent. of children are now classed as having special needs, a huge rise over the past 30 years. But few of them have serious physical or mental disabilities, according to Dr John Marks, director of the Education Research Trust and a former adviser to Tory Governments. The proportion of pupils with serious mental or physical disabilities rose from 0.8 per cent. to 1.6 per cent. in primary and from 1 per cent. to 2.5 in secondaries between 1991 and 1999. The numbers defined as having learning difficulties have increased from 11.6 per cent. to 19.2 per cent. in primary schools and from 9.6 per cent. to 16.5 per cent. in senior schools between 1995 and 1999. He called for more of the pupils to be taught in special schools saying attempts to include them in normal classes had led disruption and inefficiency.
Daily Mail, June 26, 2000.

The Government was this week condemned for dropping plans for a Bill that would bolster the rights of special needs and disabled pupils. Education Secretary, David Blunkett, said more consultation was needed on the proposed bill which would extend disability rights laws to cover schools and colleges and update special needs laws. The Bill had been scheduled to pass through Parliament by the end of this session in the Autumn. But Mr Blunkett said the Government remained committed to the Bill and would publish a consultation draft by the Autumn.
Times Educational Supplement, June 30, 2000.


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July

The Government has announced that £30 million will be given to schools and education authorities to improve access for disabled children in schools. The Schools Access Initiative allocation for 2000–2001 will be used to improve facilities in mainstream schools ranging from new ramps to providing braille equipment for blind pupils. More than 1,900 schools will benefit from this year’s £30 million programme. Over the next three years to 2002 Government expects to allocate £100 million to mainstream schools to help them to improve their facilities further.
Lincolnshire Today, July 2000.

Teenagers with Down’s Syndrome progress much better in mainstream secondaries than special schools, research shows. Unpublished figures from the University of Portsmouth show that far higher levels of reading, speaking, writing, maths and general knowledge are achieved by pupils with Down’s Syndrome in mainstream schools. Lead researcher, Professor Sue Buckley, said: ‘We show that there has been almost no progress in special schools since the 1980s. We can not see any reason for any child being there.’ The study, which is due to be published in Autumn, tested 46 Hampshire teenagers with Down’s Syndrome, 28 in special schools and 18 in mainstream. The researchers compared the results of both groups with an earlier study in 1986.
Times Educational Supplement, July 7, 2000.

Dramatic proposals which could see the demise of special schools in Southend, Essex, were unveiled by education chiefs last week. The radical school shake-up aims to get youngsters with special needs into mainstream schools and could see three of the town’s five special schools close. Southend Council has launched a major public consultation – ‘Towards Inclusion&’ – to help decide how drastic the changes to the present system must be. Council education boss, Stephen Hay, said: ‘The aim of the review is to raise educational standards for all children and to make sure that children are not excluded from receiving a quality education simply because they have a disability.’
Southend Yellow Advertiser, July 5, 2000.

A Bradford school has been accused of dashing a disabled boys hopes of carrying on his education with his best friends. Daniel Flynn, who has cerebral palsy and walks with a frame, was overjoyed when he heard in January that oversubscribed Thornton Grammar School had offered him a place but five months later the Flynns were told that the school, which controls its own admissions because of its foundation status, had changed its mind because of Daniel’s disabilities. His father Richard is appealing against the decision. ‘I think he is being discriminated against. He is not being allowed to go to a good school because of his disability.’
Bradford Telegraph and Argus, July 17, 2000.

The man spearheading the fight to save Gloucestershire's special schools has been nominated as a Hero of Gloucestershire for 2000. Graham Barton, chairman of the Special Schools Protection League, has worked tirelessly for the campaign, says Pauline Bonnie who nominated him for the award. ‘Everybody wanted to do something to help the campaign but nobody was willing to take the responsibility for getting things started. He also had the determination to see it through, despite the fact that his daughter had now been transferred to another school outside the county.’ The Heroes 2000 award was the brain child of High Sheriff of Gloucestershire, Major John Eyre, and is run in conjunction with the Lord Lieutenant, Henry Elwes and the Gloucestershire Echo.
Gloucestershire Echo, July 19, 2000.

Parents fighting to save Gloucestershire special schools from closure today vowed ‘The fight goes on.’ The protesters pledged to continue the struggle, despite being dealt a bitter blow by county councillors yesterday. They were left reeling when councillors voted to go ahead with the closure of Bownham Park School, the first of four area special schools facing the axe. But today they pledged to take their campaign to 10 Downing Street in the hope of sinking the controversial special educational needs development plan. There had been joyful scenes at Shire Hall on July 10 when the education committee voted 15 to 14 against closing Bownham Park School in Stroud. Three parent governors who sit on the committee swung the vote when they sided with Conservative and Independent members. But the victory was short-lived. Yesterday the combined power of the Liberal Democrat and Labour groups on the full council backed a motion reversing the decision by 34 votes to 26. It was the first time since 1984 that a decision made by a committee had been overturned. It means Bownham Park will shut in 2003.
Gloucestershire Echo, July 20, 2000.

Pupils with learning difficulties have been given the chance t o go to a mainstream school in Oxford. Special school, Mabel Prichard, in Littlemore has opened a base for its 13–16-year-old pupils in Peers Upper School in nearby Sandy Lane West. The group of 11 Mabel Prichard pupils have severe and profound learning difficulties. They will be based at Peers and taught separately for academic subjects but will have the opportunity to join mainstream pupils for practical subjects such as art, craft, design, music and PE. Miss Jane Wallington, head of Mabel Pritchard School, said: ‘The new Department for Education Green Paper talks a lot about inclusive education. The co-location of Mabel Pritchard reflects this Government's aspirations.’
Oxford Times, July 21, 2000.

New assessments for students with all kinds of special needs will be introduced next term in 60 Kent schools. The policy has been created in consultation with schools and parents and is part of Kent County Council’s All Together Better project. It aims to help gifted pupils, those who speak English as their second language, and those with physical or learning disabilities. Each student’s needs will be assessed by Kent's education department instead of through a long-winded legal process. Teachers will work directly with learning and behaviour specialists, psychologists and parents to do what is best for each child.
News Shopper Dartford and Swanley, July 26, 2000.

People whose education was blighted by incompetent teachers will be able to sue for damages after a ruling by the law lords yesterday. Education experts forecast that the bill could run into millions after a victory by four former pupils whose special needs were overlooked. A panel of seven law lords agreed unanimously that local education authorities had a legal duty to ensure that the students’ needs were met. Teachers owed a duty of care to all their pupils not just those with special needs. One law lord, Lord Nicholls, of Birkenhead, said that the ruling would not open the door to claims based on poor quality teaching. Students would have to prove incompetence or negligence comprising specific, identifiable mistakes.
The Times, July 28, 2000.


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August

A young boy who was born totally blind has achieved exceptional results in his primary school’s standard attainment tests (SATS) this term. Eleven-year old Toby Ott of Invicta School in Blackheath, London, beat the national average in the tests which are conducted so that the Government can assess performance by all schools in key subjects. His mother, Kelly, who is a teacher, said: ‘Mainstream pupils are expected to reach level four and Toby achieved level five, which is above the national average. Invicta has been brilliant for Toby.’ The school was supported by the Greenwich Visual Impairment Service.
Bexley and Eltham Leader, August 4, 2000.

The mother of a severely sick child claimed her son was at risk from a major reorganisation of special needs education. Despite a major heart defect, which his mother fears could kill him without special care, Qadir Munir was forced to go to a mainstream school by Newcastle City Council. Yesterday the Local Government Ombudsman accused the council of a ‘catalogue of errors’ over its provision to meet Qadir’s needs. The ombudsman recommended the family be awarded £1,000 in damages and said the council needed to overhaul its current procedures on children with special needs. Qadir is now being taught at a school where he has one-on-one care from an auxiliary teacher, but his mother said she still wanted him moved to a specialist school closer to medical care.
Newcastle Upon Tyne Journal, August 8, 2000.

Parents of disabled children have hit back at reports that a number of children in a holiday playscheme were frightened and disturbed at the presence of disabled youngsters. Louise Martin sends her son Adam to the award winning Sands Centre playscheme in Cardiff every year. Adam,6, has brain damage and mild cerebral palsy. She said: ‘It’s absolutely disgusting that parents of normal kids would complain about disabled kids. Do they want us to lock up our kids so they can’t play out?’ Jim Douglas, head of leisure contacts at the Sands Centre, said the comments had been taken out of context. Parents had taken their children out of the play area because they thought they might hurt the disabled children by being too boisterous. Refunds and free vouchers were handed out for the children to come back another time.
News and Star (All Cumbria), August 8, 2000.

Kent County Council has promised more help for a five-year-old autistic boy who has not been found a place in a specialist unit. Education experts say James Gale needs to attend a specialist unit if he is to be able to go into mainstream schooling and enjoy a normal life. But his parents have been told nothing is available. Colin Feltham, the county’s head of special educational needs, said he greatly sympathised with the family. ‘We recognised the difficulties and this is why we are reviewing our services for pupils with additional educational needs in order to make it possible for more youngsters like James to attend mainstream schools. We truly hope we can offer James a school place very soon. In the meantime, we will be providing enhanced tuition in his home.’
Kent Messenger (Malling), August 11, 2000.

Gloucestershire parents fighting to keep the county’s special schools open are prepared to take their protest to court. This follows a recent ruling in the House of Lords that local authorities can be sued for failing to provide an appropriate education for children with special needs. Parents battling against Gloucestershire County Council’s controversial special educational needs development plan say the landmark decision adds weight to their campaign. They also argue that the Government’s latest draft SEN Code of Practice, which states it is firmly committed to promoting inclusion by choice, reaffirms their right to choose. It also outlines a framework for SEN pupils to be included in mainstream schools and states that inclusion is not an agenda for the wholesale closure of special schools.
Gloucestershire Echo, August 18, 2000.


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September

Thirty-seven MSPs have voiced their support for a campaign by Glasgow-based charity Deaf Connections to teach more hearing children to use sign language. A parliamentary motion has been lodged by Sandra White MSP asking the Scottish Executive to investigate the introduction of sign language to the school curriculum. The motion was introduced after the MSP saw the positive results of the charity's deaf awareness training at St Brendan's Primary School in Yoker.
Deaf News, September 2000.

Campaigners trying to save the threatened Alderman Knight School in Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, are staging a public rally to drum up support. They have arranged the event at the Town Hall in the wake of a county council announcement that £300,000 will be given to mainstream schools this year to provide for special needs children. But none of the cash will go to schools in Tewkesbury. It will go to schools in the south of the county where the first special school to close in the county's special needs re-organisation plan is located. The county council says it is fairer to place pupils with moderate learning difficulties - and the money spent on them - in mainstream schools. But many parents fear their children's education will suffer.
Gloucestershire Echo, September 11, 2000.

Thanks to the Big Brother television series a young woman may at last get the life-saving operation she needs. Big Brother winner, Craig Phillips, is donating his £70,000 prize money to the cost of a heart and lung transplant for Jo Harris, who has Down's Syndrome. And Channel 4, with the show's producers, have pledged to match Craig's donation. Jo has been turned down for an operation in Britain because of her disability. Stanford University in California is the only medical centre in the world that is prepared to operate on Jo and the operation will cost at least £250,000. According to her father Mike: 'The British medial profession says Joanne's not a priority because she has learning difficulties ... they are saying that if there is somebody else, a so-called normal child, they will get the operation.'
The Mirror, September 20, 2000.

Parents fear their children will be at risk from violence if plans to shut a special needs school go ahead. Teachers and parents from Thurlow Park School in Tulse Hill, London, called for reassurances from councillors and council officers over the safety of their kids. The protesters claim that if the school shuts, the children could be educated with youngsters with behaviour problems who could be aggressive. But at a meeting at the school last week, Sandra Morrison, Lambeth's head of special needs, said there was no intention of putting children at risk, although she stopped short of guaranteeing their safety. Lambeth Council plans to close a number of special schools including Thurlow and re-open the Thurlow Park Site and another site for secondary and primary children with complex needs. Parents and teachers of Thurlow's 51 pupils are concerned about what 'complex needs' will mean.
The Mercury, September 20, 2000.

The first day at school is a challenge for any child but for Natalie Lawson-Lee the hurdle is even greater. Natalie, four, is the first child with Down's Syndrome to attend Bishop's Cleeve Primary School, Gloucestershire. She is in a class of 30 and receives ten hours of help a week from a learning support worker . Although Natalie is getting the most out of mainstream education her mum, Lindsey, firmly believes in the benefits of special needs education. 'If her ability had been any less I would have been in a dilemma but she is willing to learn and very able. Her understanding is of a normal age but that is not the case for everybody and sometimes children need to learn in a special needs environment.' Natalie has already experienced both types of education. There are 16,000 children with special needs in Gloucestershire of whom 1,300 attend special schools.
Gloucestershire Echo, September 21, 2000.

Parents at Southport's Sunshine House have vowed to keep the pressure up in their fight to keep the school for visually impaired children open. A final decision on the future of the school has been put off until March next year when a feasibility study will be completed. The RNIB executive council agreed to delay any decision to close the school until a study is carried out into developing proposed respite care and family services on the site. Parent representative, Kerry Seddon, said parents were pleased the study was going ahead but the fight continued to keep the school open. The RNIB have been reviewing the long term viability of Sunshine House and a special review committee recommended its closure. Parents reacted angrily to claims from the RNIB that one main reason for recommending the school close is indications from local authorities that in future the number of children placed at the centre is likely to decrease.
Maghull Champion, September 27, 2000.

A radical overhaul of special schools in Blackpool is set to begin – and parents are being quizzed for their views. Education chiefs at Blackpool Council have embarked on a major re-think of how children with physical and mental difficulties should be taught in future with possible changes beginning as soon as 2002. The options include various re-organisations of special school provision alongside re-vamping and extending facilities in mainstream schools. Special schools in Fylde and Wyre are also to be reviewed in line with Government demands.
Blackpool Gazette, September 28, 2000.


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October

Campaigners have criticised proposals for a new Code of Practice for Special Educational Needs. The draft Code proposes that money given to schools to cover statements need not be earmarked for individual children. John Wright, chief executive of the Independent Panel for Special Educational Advice, said: ‘This is a fundamental attack on the legal entitlement to special educational provision. It is a disgraceful betrayal. It is a green light for schools to spend money which they have received for provision for statemented children on something else. It would bring Government guidance in line with the worst of existing practice.’ A Department for Education spokesperson said it was not trying to weaken childen’s rights, and statements would have to set out a child's provision in full.
Disability Now, October 2000.

A mother of nine children and her autistic son have a won a landmark High Court judgement in Dublin compelling the State to provide free primary education for him as long as he might benefit from it. The decision that the State's responsibility to provide free primary education for the severely handicapped does not stop at the age of 18 has massive implications for hundred of disabled people and could lead to multi-million pounds costs for the State. Mr Justice Barr urged the State to review the problems in its administrative and decision-making structures which led to the failure to meet its constitutional obligations and gave rise to such cases. He described the difficulties encountered by Mr Jamie Sinnott and his mother Kathryn in securing appropriate education for him as ‘symptomatic of a wide-spread malaise’.
The Irish Times (Dublin), October 5, 2000.

Autistic children in Windsor and Maidenhead are set to receive a better education following the opening of a new support service. The newly-refurbished home of the Specialist Autism Mainstream Service (SAMS) was opened at Holyport Manor School on the Ascot Road last week. SAMS aims to support parents of autistic children as well as staff in mainstream schools working with them. A specialist teacher will visit the child’s school and meet with staff and parents to decide on the level of support required before an individual education plan is drawn up. There are currently 32 primary school children with statements of special educational needs across the borough being supported by SAMS but the Council hopes to extend the service to secondary schools with the help of the National Autistic Society.
Maidenhead Advertiser, October 13, 2000.

Nine out of ten people in the West Midlands believe disabled people should have access to mainstream education, according to a new poll. The Disability Rights Commission’s survey also shows 53 per cent believe disabled people are not getting a fair deal in society. The Disability Rights Commission was set up in April by an Act of Parliament to combat discrimination. Commission Chairman, Bert Massie, said: ‘Disabled people are twice as likely to leave school with no qualifications as non-disabled’.
Wolverhampton Express and Star, October 16, 2000.

Educationalists are providing better facilities for deaf children. In future, youngsters will be able to go to the mainstream Stanley Road Primary School, Chadderton, Oldham, and have specialist staff to support them. Before, children had to attend special schools or get specialist teaching outside the borough. All classroom have been specifically adapted at Stanley Road so that the youngsters, most of whom have cochlea implants and some level of hearing, can maximise their hearing. And as they progress through the school, their listening skills, speech and signing develop so they can take part in increasing numbers of mainstream lessons. The new facility will be officially opened by Lord Morris of Manchester on Friday. For many years Lord Morris was MP for Wythenshawe. He was the first Minister for the Disabled.
Oldham Chronicle, October 18, 2000.

Gloucestershire County Councillors say a timetable devised for discussions on the future of the county's special schools does not imply that they will all be closed by 2007. Members of the Council's special educational needs sub-committee said their schedule does not conflict with the public consultation over the schools. At stake is the survival of Alderman Knight in Tewkesbury, Cheltenham's Belmont School, and Dean Hall in Coleford. The 100-pupil unit for pupils with moderate learning difficulties at Gloucester's Milestones unit is also threatened with the axe or a change of status to a support centre for the mainstream. The county council has agreed Bownham Park School in Stroud should be closed in 2003.
Gloucestershire Echo October 19, 2000.

A top grammar school faces legal action after banning a diabetic pupil from taking part in foreign journeys. Clitheroe Royal Grammar School in Lancashire is being taken to court by the Disability Rights Commission in the first case of its kind after excluding 15-year-old Tom White from trips abroad. Tom, who developed diabetes when he was nine, was told he could not go on a watersports holiday in France, despite having a place and paying a deposit. The decision cam after the young sportsman had his first severe hypoglycemic attack – caused by a drop in blood sugar levels – while on a skiing trip last February. His father, Malcolm, said: ‘Tom is devastated by the ban. It is totally unfair to stop him from going on trips with his friends and other pupils because he has diabetes. We have tried every channel to get the school to change their minds but they have chosen to ignore the medical, educational and legal experts.’ The school said it was standing by staff who did not want to assume the extra responsibilities of looking after Tom.
Yorkshire Post (Leeds) October 19, 2000.

Scarborough's two schools for special needs children will be put under the spotlight during a county-wide review of education for disabled children. Woodlands School in Woodlands Drive caters for up to 90 children, aged between two and 16, including 30 who stay at a residential hostel on site. Springhead School in Barry's Lane caters for up to 46 children aged from two to 19. Both schools have vacancies. Part of the review exercise will be to decide whether the provision of special needs education is adequately or correctly distributed around the borough.
Scarborough Evening News, October 20, 2000.

Young people with Down's Syndrome are set to lose a specialist teacher - threatening their chances of staying in mainstream schools. A lack of cash means Oxford-based Sandy Alton – Britain's first Down's Syndrome teacher-adviser – will be out of a job within months. She works with 60 primary and secondary teachers and pupils across Oxfordshire, helping staff better understand the syndrome and the educational needs involved. Without her help teachers might not copy and pupils may be forced into special schools. Her post is partly paid by the local education authority and the rest with fundraising from the Oxfordshire Down's Syndrome Association. But the £15,000 council cash is about to run out after two years and Sandy is facing the axe.
Oxford Mail, October 20, 2000.

The debate about inclusion for children with special needs has well-drawn battle-lines. On one side are those who argue that children with special needs are best educated in an environment where those needs can be met by specialist teachers with targeted resources. On the other side are those who argue that, with very few exceptions, children should be educated alongside their peers with specialist support in the mainstream classroom. In Coventry three schools have tried to break down the artificial barriers of that debate and achieve the best of both worlds in a project that mixes mainstream and special children. ‘I almost see us as one school with three different levels of resource,’ says Cathy Clarke, head of Three Spires special school. ‘We have a true partnership. Historically special schools have been on the edge. When the child can’t cope and their needs are very different, there are parts of those needs which can be met by other types of resource and that’s the push we have made here.’ The other schools involved are Tiverton special school and Moseley primary school.
Times Educational Supplement, October 27, 2000.


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November

Campaigners have criticised proposals for a new Code of Practice for Special Educational Needs. The draft Code proposes that money given to schools to cover statements need not be earmarked for individual children. John Wright, chief executive of the Independent Panel for Special Educational Advice, said: ‘This is a fundamental attack on the legal entitlement to special educational provision. It is a disgraceful betrayal. It is a green light for schools to spend money which they have received for provision for statemented children on something else. It would bring Government guidance in line with the worst of existing practice.’ A Department for Education spokesperson said it was not trying to weaken childen’s rights, and statements would have to set out a child's provision in full.
Disability Now, October 2000.

A mother of nine children and her autistic son have a won a landmark High Court judgement in Dublin compelling the State to provide free primary education for him as long as he might benefit from it. The decision that the State's responsibility to provide free primary education for the severely handicapped does not stop at the age of 18 has massive implications for hundred of disabled people and could lead to multi-million pounds costs for the State. Mr Justice Barr urged the State to review the problems in its administrative and decision-making structures which led to the failure to meet its constitutional obligations and gave rise to such cases. He described the difficulties encountered by Mr Jamie Sinnott and his mother Kathryn in securing appropriate education for him as ‘symptomatic of a wide-spread malaise’.
The Irish Times (Dublin), October 5, 2000.

Autistic children in Windsor and Maidenhead are set to receive a better education following the opening of a new support service. The newly-refurbished home of the Specialist Autism Mainstream Service (SAMS) was opened at Holyport Manor School on the Ascot Road last week. SAMS aims to support parents of autistic children as well as staff in mainstream schools working with them. A specialist teacher will visit the child’s school and meet with staff and parents to decide on the level of support required before an individual education plan is drawn up. There are currently 32 primary school children with statements of special educational needs across the borough being supported by SAMS but the Council hopes to extend the service to secondary schools with the help of the National Autistic Society.
Maidenhead Advertiser, October 13, 2000.

Nine out of ten people in the West Midlands believe disabled people should have access to mainstream education, according to a new poll. The Disability Rights Commission’s survey also shows 53 per cent believe disabled people are not getting a fair deal in society. The Disability Rights Commission was set up in April by an Act of Parliament to combat discrimination. Commission Chairman, Bert Massie, said: ‘Disabled people are twice as likely to leave school with no qualifications as non-disabled’.
Wolverhampton Express and Star, October 16, 2000.

Educationalists are providing better facilities for deaf children. In future, youngsters will be able to go to the mainstream Stanley Road Primary School, Chadderton, Oldham, and have specialist staff to support them. Before, children had to attend special schools or get specialist teaching outside the borough. All classroom have been specifically adapted at Stanley Road so that the youngsters, most of whom have cochlea implants and some level of hearing, can maximise their hearing. And as they progress through the school, their listening skills, speech and signing develop so they can take part in increasing numbers of mainstream lessons. The new facility will be officially opened by Lord Morris of Manchester on Friday. For many years Lord Morris was MP for Wythenshawe. He was the first Minister for the Disabled.
Oldham Chronicle, October 18, 2000.

Gloucestershire County Councillors say a timetable devised for discussions on the future of the county's special schools does not imply that they will all be closed by 2007. Members of the Council's special educational needs sub-committee said their schedule does not conflict with the public consultation over the schools. At stake is the survival of Alderman Knight in Tewkesbury, Cheltenham's Belmont School, and Dean Hall in Coleford. The 100-pupil unit for pupils with moderate learning difficulties at Gloucester's Milestones unit is also threatened with the axe or a change of status to a support centre for the mainstream. The county council has agreed Bownham Park School in Stroud should be closed in 2003.
Gloucestershire Echo October 19, 2000.

A top grammar school faces legal action after banning a diabetic pupil from taking part in foreign journeys. Clitheroe Royal Grammar School in Lancashire is being taken to court by the Disability Rights Commission in the first case of its kind after excluding 15-year-old Tom White from trips abroad. Tom, who developed diabetes when he was nine, was told he could not go on a watersports holiday in France, despite having a place and paying a deposit. The decision cam after the young sportsman had his first severe hypoglycemic attack – caused by a drop in blood sugar levels – while on a skiing trip last February. His father, Malcolm, said: ‘Tom is devastated by the ban. It is totally unfair to stop him from going on trips with his friends and other pupils because he has diabetes. We have tried every channel to get the school to change their minds but they have chosen to ignore the medical, educational and legal experts.’ The school said it was standing by staff who did not want to assume the extra responsibilities of looking after Tom.
Yorkshire Post (Leeds) October 19, 2000.

Scarborough's two schools for special needs children will be put under the spotlight during a county-wide review of education for disabled children. Woodlands School in Woodlands Drive caters for up to 90 children, aged between two and 16, including 30 who stay at a residential hostel on site. Springhead School in Barry's Lane caters for up to 46 children aged from two to 19. Both schools have vacancies. Part of the review exercise will be to decide whether the provision of special needs education is adequately or correctly distributed around the borough.
Scarborough Evening News, October 20, 2000.

Young people with Down's Syndrome are set to lose a specialist teacher - threatening their chances of staying in mainstream schools. A lack of cash means Oxford-based Sandy Alton – Britain's first Down's Syndrome teacher-adviser – will be out of a job within months. She works with 60 primary and secondary teachers and pupils across Oxfordshire, helping staff better understand the syndrome and the educational needs involved. Without her help teachers might not copy and pupils may be forced into special schools. Her post is partly paid by the local education authority and the rest with fundraising from the Oxfordshire Down's Syndrome Association. But the £15,000 council cash is about to run out after two years and Sandy is facing the axe.
Oxford Mail, October 20, 2000.

The debate about inclusion for children with special needs has well-drawn battle-lines. On one side are those who argue that children with special needs are best educated in an environment where those needs can be met by specialist teachers with targeted resources. On the other side are those who argue that, with very few exceptions, children should be educated alongside their peers with specialist support in the mainstream classroom. In Coventry three schools have tried to break down the artificial barriers of that debate and achieve the best of both worlds in a project that mixes mainstream and special children. ‘I almost see us as one school with three different levels of resource,’ says Cathy Clarke, head of Three Spires special school. ‘We have a true partnership. Historically special schools have been on the edge. When the child can’t cope and their needs are very different, there are parts of those needs which can be met by other types of resource and that’s the push we have made here.’ The other schools involved are Tiverton special school and Moseley primary school.
Times Educational Supplement, October 27, 2000.


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December

NUT general secretary Doug McAvoy has welcomed the Government's announcement of its SEN and Disability in Education Bill and of an extra £220m over three years for the Schools Access Initiative. However, the Union warned that inclusion of disabled pupils in mainstream schools would only work if specific criteria were met and there were some children for whom special schools would continue to be appropriate.
The Teacher, December 2000.

As a Government overhaul of special needs comes into force, Cornish schools are finding they are one step ahead of the recent policy changes. The county has been unique in choosing to educate children with physical disabilities and special educational needs in mainstream schools wherever possible. The Cornish approach to special needs education is applauded as one which was ahead of its time. 'People in Cornwall had great vision to establish inclusive provision for special needs children,' said Geoff Hogg, head of individual needs policy for Cornwall.
Western Morning News (Devon), December 4, 2000.

A teacher forced to cope single-handedly with 11 special needs and disturbed children in a mainstream class has been awarded a record £254,362 compensation for stress. Jan Howell suffered two mental breakdowns and was forced to retire on medical grounds at 46. Speaking yesterday about her ordeal Mrs. Howell warned that there were thousands of other teachers 'just as needy', struggling to integrate special needs and disturbed children without the necessary resources. Among the 11 special needs pupils in her class of 28 were a 10-year-old boy with behaviour problems who had previously been excluded from two other schools and many who spoke English as a second language. She claimed she had been told to teach English to two Ethiopian refugee children - a brother and a sister - in her spare time.
Daily Telegraph, December 5, 2000.

Rossendale's 'worst' school has hit back at education league tables that have left it with the reputation of failure. Shock results this week dumped St. Anne's CE Primary School at the bottom of Rossendale's table of achievement after years of comfortable mid-table performance. Headteacher Mary Livesey, said seven of 15 children tested for the tables had special educational needs - typically dyslexic or with other learning difficulties. Governors feared the Edgeside school would be tarnished with a low-achievement tag which would take years to shake off. According to Mrs. Livesey: 'We see a very different picture of achievement when we look behind these details'. And Dick Stuart, a governor for ten years, said: 'These results are unfair and misleading and I dislike these tables intensely. This school is anything but awful. Our children achieve as much as they can.'
Rossendale Free Press, December 8, 2000.

Single mother Karen Hart claimed today she was forced to withdraw her teenage daughter from mainstream education because the partially-sighted youngster could not cope at school. But Oxfordshire education bosses say they have done everything possible to cater for the special needs of Kayleigh, 15. Ms. Hart has been trying to teach her daughter but is struggling to cover the cost of correspondence courses for her GCSEs. She said: 'Kayleigh's confidence was smashed when she went to two mainstream comprehensive schools. She would not be able to cope in a formal classroom.'
Oxford Mail, December 13, 2000.

Sheffield Education Department is taking a step towards tackling official criticism with a publication of a blueprint for breaking down barriers in city schools. The strategy aims to set out workable procedures for educating as many youngsters as possible in mainstream schools, making allowances for any special needs, disabilities or learning difficulties they may have. Special educational needs was a heavily criticised area in this year's Ofsted report on the LEA. The new procedures should be introduced over the next five years, making it easier for youngsters with difficulties to be educated in mainstream schools and to achieve their full potential. New funding arrangements will encourage schools to cater for pupils who have particular needs or problems rather than excluding them or going through the costly and time consuming process of having them statemented. At present children with statements of special educational need attract extra funding but new procedures should give schools the money automatically.
Sheffield Telegraph, December 15, 2000.

Teenager Kimbeley Jhally may have learning difficulties but she refuses to let them hold her back. The 15-year-old pupil at Orchard School in Canterbury has just been elected to the UK Youth Parliament and has already spoken in the House of Commons. Her manifesto includes hard-hitting issues such as tackling drug and alcohol abuse among young people and stamping down hard on pollution. Kimberley will represent Canterbury and Swale area for the coming year and is keen to find out what 11-to-18-year-olds in her constituency think. 'I want to try and hold a meeting at school to find out what local children want and how I can help them,' she said. 'I have learning difficulties and have trouble with reading and writing but I am determined never to let that stop me doing things.'
Herne Bay Gazette, December 20, 2000.

A teaching union is warning that plans to cut special needs posts in Nottinghamshire will increase teacher stress and parent dissatisfaction. The county council is consulting on proposals to cut by a third the number of special needs support teachers who help pupils in special and mainstream schools with a range of disabilities and learning difficulties. The money saved from the cuts is expected to release more money to enhance special needs provision in mainstream. But the NASUWT insists that will not only put more pressure on mainstream schools but will 'hasten the demise' of special schools. There are also concerns that the introduction of classroom assistants to replace lost support staff will not provide the same quality of education.
Mansfield Chad, December 20, 2000.

A four-year plan to improve provision for Lincolnshire children with special educational needs has been approved by councillors. The document has been produced by education professionals and is designed to provide a coherent framework for developments of SEN in Lincolnshire. Priorities include recognising special needs work as part of the central objective of raising achievement and standards for all pupils and promoting a more inclusive educational system involving all phases and types of schools.
Lincolnshire Echo, December 21, 2000.

Secondary schools are struggling to cope with a large increase in the number of children assessed as having special educational needs, headteachers said today. The number of children with statements has risen by an average 16.7per cent. over the last three years, said the Secondary Heads Association. Geoff Price, head of Warwick Road Special School, in Bishop Auckland, County Durham, said: 'We must ensure that inclusion is phased and paced so as to be manageable for schools. With adequate resources and a realistic timetable we can establish successful practice, but there is a danger that we overload the process of change by trying to do too much too soon.' The Department for Education and Employment said that the increase in the number of pupils with statements in England reflected the overall rise in the number of children attending secondary schools. The total percentage had increased only slightly from 2.3 to 2.5 per cent. since January 1997. Cash earmarked for helping such youngsters will rise from £27m to £82m next year and the Government was providing £220m to schools to improve access for the disabled.
Newcastle Upon Tyne Journal, December 22, 2000.


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