Centre for Studies on Inclusive Education

supporting inclusion, challenging exclusion

news from 2001

End of year review

Government and LEA trends

In line with Government policy, Local Education Authorities continued to announce proposals for developing inclusion.

LEAs announcing special needs restructuring plans in 2001 included North Tyneside, Waltham Forest, Blackpool, Greenwich, Knowsley, Dundee, Leicester, Liverpool, Sheffield, Bradford, York, Knowsley and Leeds. It was made clear that reorganisation would involve closure of some special schools but, at the same time, a continuing role for special schools was acknowledged by many.

Plans for greater inclusion aroused concerns from parents and teaching staff in some areas. However, there were strong reassurances that more pupils learning together would benefit everybody. In Leeds it was said 'there was nothing to be afraid of ' regarding proposals to close some special schools in the city and in Liverpool the Assistant Director of Education spoke of inclusion being in the 'long term interests of all'.

The Prime Minister, Tony Blair, provided support for the ongoing campaign to stop special school closures in Gloucestershire by praising their role. And in Blackpool councillors promised that there would be no forced inclusion. Parents would be able to choose another special school if the one their child attended faced closure.

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Mainstream developments

Developments in mainstream schools during 2001 represented good news and bad news in the struggle for inclusion.

A new report from the Department of Education and Employment, the National Union of Teachers and Scope showed that all pupils, not just those with disabilities, were benefiting from making schools accessible.

However, another report from Scope revealed that young people with high levels of support needs were still being excluded from society and a survey conduced by Rathbone and Manchester Metropolitan University found that, although there were pockets of good practice for children with 'special needs' in mainstream schools, the general picture was disturbing.

Government funding for access during the year included £10 million for communication technology such as voice recognition systems, hand-held spell checkers, speech synthesisers and simple eye or mouth-operated devices.

More links between special and mainstream schools and groups of mainstream schools were reported during the year including schemes to share specialist resources, information, and technology as well as classrooms and lessons.

In Birmingham a primary and special school went all the way by announcing merger plans which were supported by both school heads and hailed as 'exciting and logical' by the local MP.

Cheshire union officials welcomed the introduction of teaching assistants in schools, saying they would help pupils learn and boost classroom achievement.

The introduction of sign language skills in more mainstream schools was also welcomed as a useful contribution to developing inclusion.

The All Party Parliamentary Group on Autism criticised education authorities for failing to face up to the challenge of supporting pupils with autism. A survey of education authorities organised by the group found that almost all of them reported that, while numbers of children with autism were increasing, they did not know how many children were affected or how to respond to them.

At the NASUWT Conference in Jersey in April there were calls for school nurses to be returned to schools to help teachers cope with a growing number of sick children. Teachers claimed that they were being 'emotionally blackmailed' into giving out medicines - leaving them open to allegations of abuse.

Children experiencing difficulties with behaviour in Northumberland benefited from the introduction of a new type of study centre - the first of its kind in the area. The design for the new centre was based on a modern, commercial office rather than a classroom. A full-time learning support teacher and four assistants were appointed to manage it.

The year ended with the results of a poll by the Disability Rights Commission which reflected the mixed progress towards inclusion of the previous months. The poll found that most people did not want children with learning difficulties or mental health problems taught alongside their sons and daughters. However, two thirds were happy to see disabled children taught in the mainstream and only 12 per cent. said disabled children should be confined to special schools.

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Legislative moves

The Special Educational Needs and Disability Bill which strengthens pupils' rights to mainstream education and provides protection against disability discrimination in education received Royal Assent during 2001 . The major provisions were due to be introduced in September 2002 accompanied by Codes of Practice from the Disability Rights Commission explaining the new duties.

The new law was described as an historic provision which tackled weaknesses in the Disability Discrimination Act and ended decades of exclusion in education for disabled people. It was backed by 247 organisations representing disabled people, parents, children and local councils. However, there were also concerns that the effect of the new law would be considerably weakened by remaining conditions which prevented disabled pupils attending mainstream if their presence affected the education of other children.

It was estimated that the new law would require many schools to reassess their attitudes to disabled children. Instead of thinking of disabled pupils as problems to be coped with, schools were now required to acknowledge children's rights to a mainstream education and work out how to remove barriers within schools which themselves prevented disabled children attending. As few as one or two per cent of the 24,000 schools in England were thought to be ready for the big changes involved.

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Family struggles and successes

Families were at the centre of trailblazing efforts to develop inclusion in schools and other settings.

Four-year-old Holly Goodwyn, who has cerebral palsy, became the first youngster in Suffolk to be placed in a mainstream school using an electronic communication aid, and 16-year-old Maresa MacKeith, who uses a message board and facilitator to communicate, achieved a string of GCSE successes. Adele Waterfall-Brown, the first youngster with severe sight problems to attend a mainstream school in Darlington, was congratulated on her 'remarkable achievement' after sitting GCSEs in nine subjects.

Simone Aspis became the first person with learning difficulties to be appointed as a spokesperson on disability for a British political party, as well as the first prospective parliamentary candidate with a learning difficulty. Simone is a member of the Green Party. Jamie Sinnott, a 23-year-old autistic man who was denied the right to education in the courts, turned failure into victory by using his case to convince education officials in Dublin they must improve provision for students with disabilities.

In Bradford a mother said she 'pushed and pushed and pushed' to get support for her daughter who has autism and was pleased with her progress in mainstream. However, others in her parent support group who wanted their children to transfer from special schools to mainstream with full support were 'left in limbo'.

Access remained the main barrier to full inclusion. Hayriye Mehmet's college course was postponed because of building delays and 11-year-old Asemah Samad was still waiting to take up her school place in Leeds while staff received training to support her. Mark Powell, who is visually impaired, was unable to get on with his schoolwork because support workers refused to carry his equipment and two Belfast mothers said their sons were refused places at summer holiday schemes in the city because they were autistic.

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Comments and criticisms

The cautious progress towards inclusion which was achieved during 2001 did not go unchallenged with many critics relying on old medical models of disability to make their points.

A former Government education adviser, Dr. John Marks, criticised what he called 'the inclusion or else message'. He claimed that disabled children could be harmed by an overemphasis on mainstream education and called for disabilities to be put into different categories with recommendations for the most suitable types of education for each.

According to one special school head teacher, there is no such thing as a human right to be included in mainstream education. He claimed that the human right that mattered was the human right to be included in mainstream society and adult life and that there were many different routes to get there including attending special schools.

A scathing leader article in the Gloucestershire Echo hit out at the county's inclusion plans, saying they were a 'trendy experiment' which would not work because mainstream schools were not best for everyone. No evidence for the paper's claims were given.

Special school head, Meg Taylor, said special school staff sometimes felt they were treated as 'naughty schoolchildren' by education officials who wanted to rush through inclusion plans. And the new president of the NUT in Sheffield, Susan Devlin, said that in many cases special school provision was still needed. Special schools should not be made to feel excluded as unsuitable places for education.

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Special schools face a fall in numbers if proposals by North Tyneside Council to integrate children with special needs into mainstream schools go ahead. The plan is to increase the mainstream school population to 90 per cent. by 2010 with only ten per cent of pupils with special educational needs attending special schools. John Scott, acting manager for students and pupils' services at North Tynside Council, said: 'We are consulting on a draft plan for inclusive education which is giving children with special educational needs the chance to learn in mainstream schools. The proposals are set for the next five to ten years.'
Wallsend News Guardian, January 18, 2001.

Parents, staff, pupils and governors in Lambeth, London, have vowed to fight on after hearing that their special needs school is to close down. On Monday night the independent schools organisation committee rubber stamped plans to close Thurlow Park School as part of Lambeth Council's controversial shake-up of special needs provision in the borough. The school which takes children with physical and associated learning disabilities from nursery age to the end of their secondary education will be shut down and re-opened as a secondary school - despite the pleas of parents.
South London Press, January 19, 2001.

Shaun Beard says he is prepared to go to prison in a battle over his son's education. Brian, 11, has been at home in Prior's Park, Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, for more than three months, while his parents try to get him a special school place. They feel he should go Alderman Knight School for children with moderate learning difficulties but have been told by educational psychologists that Brian must return to mainstream pending a report. Mr. Beard, 33, said:'Brian definitely will not go to a mainstream school whether they want him to or not. Last week I told them there and then that no matter what they say he's not going back to a mainstream school. I will keep him at home and go to prison if necessary.'
Gloucestershire Echo, January 24, 2001.

A scathing leader article in the Gloucestershire Echo has hit out at the county's inclusion plans saying they will not work and are a trendy experiment. According to the article: 'We have had it to the back teeth with education pundits who tell us that integration for 90 per cent. of pupils with learning difficulties into mainstream schools is best for everyone. It's not and that's an end to it. It is only better for education bigwigs who are off on their own trendy experiment. Integration is the current professional buzz-word and we are supposed to bow down and say thank you very much and let's get on with it then. We can't and we won't . Why not? Because it's wrong. Just as it was wrong when education officers and the trendy teachers in the 1960s and 1970s told us grammar, spelling and mathematical times tables didn't matter.'
Gloucestershire Echo, January 24, 2001.

A school for dyslexic children has just celebrated 15 years of teaching with an 'outstanding' Ofsted report. Moon Hall School, in Holmbury St. Mary, Surrey, is well known internationally in the field of dyslexia, providing specialist teaching for children in close partnership with Belmont preparatory school whose facilities it shares. Moon Hall aims to integrate pupils back into mainstream schools and nearly all transfer to Belmont classes. According to the Ofsted report:'Pupils are educated in a supportive but educationally challenging environment where their needs are understood and addressed by all adults. There is a strong ethos of care and a commitment to ensuring the welfare of pupils is paramount.'
West Sussex County Times, January 26, 2001.

In a letter to the Editor of the Newcastle Upon Tyne Journal, the chairman of the Governors of Barbara Priestman Special School, Sunderland, questions whether admission of disabled pupils to mainstream schools is a human rights issue. He says: 'That begs the question as to what human rights actually is. I believe that the right is to inclusion in society in adult life and a recognition that there should be a choice as to the best way to get there. It is a dangerous trap to believe that the only way to get there is by inclusion in a mainstream school.'
Newcastle Upon Tyne Journal, January 27, 2001.

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Consultations about integrating pupils with special needs into mainstream schools throughout North Tyneside have been met with a huge response. Such has been the interest that North Tyneside Council has extended the deadline for responses to their proposals which in time could lead to the closure of special schools throughout the borough. The plan for inclusive education means the number of pupils with special education needs who attend special schools will drop if the council's strategic plan comes into force.
Whitley Bay News Guardian, February 1, 2001.

A planned change to the way pupils with special educational needs are taught in Waltham Forest has caused an uproar. Parents with children in any of the borough's six special schools fear their youngsters will suffer, whether they end up in mainstream schools or 'all in' special needs schools. Heads and governors in mainstream schools are concerned that they will not receive sufficient money and expertise to support pupils with substantial learning difficulties. The local education authority has made it clear that there will be change, whether people like it or not, in line with the Government's plans for inclusive education.
Chingford Guardian, February 1, 2001.

The achievements of pupils at St Margarets of Troy Town Primary School in Rochester have been acclaimed in an Ofsted report. Inspectors were impressed to see that the standards of pupils had leaped from below average when they entered the school to well above average when they left. The report says: 'This is a most effective school. Pupils achieve well. When they leave, their attainment is well above average when compared with schools that take in pupils of a similar background. This is because the senior management team leads very well and has high expectations of staff and pupils'. Children with special needs and those for whom English is a second language made good progress because of the strong support from learning support assistants and other specialist staff.
Kent Today, February 12, 2001.

Pupils at Westgate Primary School, Bury St. Edmunds, gave a concert of singing and signing to raise money for improvements in their Hearing Impaired Unit. The 60 members of the school sign language club performed songs, signing the words as they sang them. Headmaster Brian Cash said: 'It went really well. The parents were thrilled and very impressed. The Hearing Impaired Unit opened in 1961 and caters for the needs of children in West Suffolk whose deafness prevents them attending their local schools. Children are taught both in the unit and in mainstream classes where they integrate with their peers. The number of children in the unit has recently doubled, and the school needs funds for computers and software which would enhance the pupils' learning and address their special needs.
Bury Free Press, February 16, 2001.

Blackpool's education chief has made a pledge to parents of special needs children that they will not be forced to have their youngsters educated in mainstream schools. Councillors will meet to vote on proposals to close one of the borough's three special schools. The closure plans have sparked anger from parents who claim it would be a disaster if their children were placed in mainstream schools instead of specialist centres. But Coun. Eddie Collett, executive councillor for education at Blackpool Council, insisted that parents would still have a choice. He said: 'If their child's school closes it will be up to them whether they want to place their child in a mainstream school or one of the other two specialist schools. No-one is going to make children with special needs go to mainstream schools'.
Blackpool Gazette, February 21, 2001.

Concerned parents and governors have until mid-March to oppose Lewisham Council's special education re-structuring proposals. The February 28 deadline of the consultation on the closure of Anerley School and the re-organisation of five other provisions for special needs pupils, has been extended to allow further discussion. The executive education sub-committee will make the final decision about the proposals which aim to get 'best value' out of the school system, on May 9. NUT spokesman, Martin Powell-Davies, said: 'This report has been put together by the council without the involvement of parents, governors or schools. If changes are to be made these interest holders must be involved'. A spokesman for Lewisham Council said: 'The Council is primarily concerned with the best arrangements for children but must, of course, involve parents in the consultation. We have to discuss the policy before we can explain it to parents and persuade them of the rationale'.
New Shopper Lewisham and Catford.

A network of area resource bases to teach children with special educational needs in Cornish secondary and primary schools has been endorsed in principal by county councillors. The eight area resource bases would cost £1.6 million to set up in primary and secondary schools willing and able to accommodate them. The money would come from the county council's current special education budget. Some resource base pupils could be integrated into mainstream classes for the majority of their lessons, while others would remain full time in the bases. This is the latest stage of the controversial review into special educational needs in Cornwall, aimed at finding a fairer way to redistribute the county's £27 million a year budget which is facing an overspend of £560,000.
West Briton (Truro) February 22, 2001.

Carl Portman has beaten the odds after switching to a pioneering comprehensive which has opened its doors to disabled pupils. Carl, 17, attended a boarding school for the blind and a state school where he didn't shine and was even bullied. But at the age of 14 he switched schools and has made such progress -- passing 10 GCSEs. He is now looking forward to going to university. The Government is now planning to open more mainstream comprehensives to disabled pupils so they can all reach their full potential. Carl says his life was transformed at Filsham Valley, a 950-pupil school in St. Leonard's, East Sussex. He said: 'It's brilliant here. Everybody takes people for what they are, not because they are disabled'.
The Mirror, February 23, 2001.

Sheffield's special schools still have a future, according to the city's new president of the National Union of Teachers. Susan Devlin, who works at the Rowan Special School in Dore, teaches pupils with autism. The city's special schools sector has been greatly scaled down over the last decade with education experts and MPs pressing for more of its pupils to be taught in mainstream schools. Union activists have often been critical of the policy, highlighting problems which can emerge when children with behaviour disorders are integrated into mainstream classes. Ms Devlin said special schools should not be treated as exclusive places that were unsuitable for education. 'Our approach to inclusion should be based on the principle that pupils are educated in the right place, at the right time and with the right resources. This should not exclude special schools - in many cases special school provision will still be needed'.
Star (Sheffield), February 26, 2001.

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Proposals to bring the education system within a disability rights framework, announced in the Queen's speech, were warmly welcomed by the Disability Rights Commission. The Special Educational Needs and Disability Rights in Education Bill will give disabled pupils and students the right to a mainstream education and rectifies one of the major weaknesses of the Disability Discrimination Act. Bert Massie, Chairman of the Disability Rights Commission, said: 'This is a historic day for disabled pupils and students many of whom have been excluded for decades from the mainstream education system'.
Disabled and Supportive Carer, March, 2001.

Simone Aspis has become the first person with a learning difficulty to be appointed as a national spokesperson for a British political party. She has been selected to speak on disability for the Green Party and she will stand as a parliamentary candidate for Brent East at the general election. None of the three main political parties have ever selected a prospective parliamentary candidate with a learning difficulty. Simone, aged 32, a freelance training consultant, is a long standing member of People First, an organisation run by and for people with learning difficulties. Simone said: 'I am part of an oppressed group of people who need to challenge the cultural barriers that stop them being able to reach their full potential', she said.
Community Care, March 1, 2001.

Campaigners battling to save Gloucestershire's special schools are buoyant about receiving support from an unlikely ally - Prime Minister Tony Blair. Mr. Blair surprised many people when he praised the role of special schools. He was put on the spot by parents when he addressed an audience at Hartpury College. He said he was not qualified to comment on the situation in Gloucestershire but said: 'The work being done by special schools is absolutely vital and for children with learning difficulties to leave that behind would be absolutely awful'. Graham Barton, chairman of Gloucestershire Special Schools Protection Group, was delighted with the Prime Minister's endorsement. He said: 'I feel it gives further credence that Gloucestershire's position is not the national position'.
Gloucestershire Echo, March 3, 2001.

Sara Hempsall was told that her little boy Jonathan would never settle in mainstream school. According to his paediatric consultant, the autistic five-year-old would be unable to deal with the regime and unable to see himself as part of a group. Mrs. Hempsall spent the entire summer holidays dreading the first day of term. But her fear turned out to be unnecessary because when Jonathan started at Manor Leas Infant School in Lincoln, he was placed in reception teacher Liz Farley's class. Mrs. Hempsall said Mrs. Farley had turned her little boy's life around. 'He now looks forward to lessons, enjoys going to school, and most importantly feels he has a friend'.
Lincolnshire Echo, March 6, 2001.

Furious parents of children with special needs held a demonstration on the steps of Portsmouth's civic offices, asking the council to: 'Save Our School' . Pupils from East Shore Special School in Milton joined more than 40 mums and dads and governors to protest against City Council plans to close their school. And councillors agreed to postpone their plans to divide the children between two other special schools and consider other options. The proposal to close East Shore is part of an inclusion plan to counter-balance the trend of more parents of children with special needs wanting them in mainstream education.
The News, Portsmouth, March 6, 2001.

Parents fear a council scheme to reorganise special schools is based on empty promises. The £21 million plans, agreed at a meeting of Greenwich Council's schools reorganisation committee, will result in the closure of five special schools and the integration of pupils with moderate learning difficulties into mainstream school. Gill Mills, whose child attends Charlton Park Community School, said: 'We are really disappointed with the decision. A lot of promises have been made but we still feel they have not given us proper assurances and there is nothing substantial. People are genuinely distressed. Nothing they said made us feel any better'. The scheme includes plans to open two centres of excellence that will both cater for children with severe learning difficulties and physical problems. It is also proposed to train teachers at mainstream schools to deal with pupils with learning difficulties. Mrs. Mills thinks this is unrealistic.
Kentish Times (Bexley Heath and Welling), March 9, 2001.

Work to improve access for disabled pupils to Sheffield's schools will be stepped up thanks to a further £464,000 Government grant. The cash is part of a £50m national programme which will continue for the next three years. Improvements will include the installation of lifts for children with mobility problems to sound field systems for pupils who are deaf. Another objective is better signposting for partially sighted and blind children and cash will also be available for handrails, specialist furniture, and computer equipment. The Government sees equality of opportunity or disabled children as a key part of its drive to push up educational standards.
Star (Sheffield), March 13, 2001.

Plans to shut schools for children with behaviour difficulties have been put on hold. Education, social services and health specialists will be called in to research the impact of possible closure on children and families. The decision was reached unanimously by members of Gloucestershire County Council's special education needs development committee. They went against officers who want to press ahead with a full consultation process on the proposal. More than 120 children in Gloucestershire attend four boarding schools where their particular difficulties can be addressed. The Council wants to integrate some of these into mainstream education and possibly close one or more schools.
Gloucestershire Echo, March 22, 2001.

Cheshire union officials have welcomed the introduction of teaching assistants into a number of schools to boost achievement. Members of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers say teaching assistants will help pupils to learn and boost classroom achievement. The officially titled learning support assistants are a rapidly growing feature of primary and secondary classroom. About 20,000 extra assistants have been recruited nationally as part of the Government's drive to give teachers extra classroom support in meeting the specific learning needs of individuals and groups.
Chester Chronicle, March 23, 2001.

Pre-school children with special educational needs will benefit from a £25 million package to tackle learning difficulties, the Government announced this week. The money will be used to train specialist child-care and early years workers, fund services for children with SEN and set up a regional network of experts. A working group will be set up to develop practical guidance on how children with special needs can be identified before they reach their second birthday.
Times Educational Supplement, March 23, 2001.

Kingswood MP Roger Berry has accused the Tories of trying to wreck a bill to outlaw discrimination against disabled children. The Labour MP was outraged when the Conservatives tabled an 11th hour amendment in a bid to prevent the legislation clearing the Commons. He said the Special Educational Needs and Disability Bill was backed by 247 organisations representing the disabled, parents, children and local councils. Blocking it would be a major blow to attempts to ensure disabled people were treated as equal citizens. However, the Conservative amendment was unable to prevent the bill gaining its second reading, raising hopes it will become law before the election. The bill will place a duty on councils to treat disabled pupils equally and strengthen their right to mainstream education.
Bristol Evening Post, March 27 2001.

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In his new role as journalist for the Daily Telegraph, former Ofsted chief Chris Woodhead, has criticised the way the Labour Government is running education. He derided Ministerial views of school teachers saying: 'They no longer want teachers to be mentors who introduce kids to an objective body of knowledge. They say there's no point in teaching knowledge about anything because everything is changing. We must teach learnacy. Learnacy is the ability to manage your own learning -- and this idea is not coming from the lunatic fringe; it is deeply embedded in the Government.' Mr. Woodhead also revealed that the Government's Standards Taskforce spent time discussing changing the name of teachers to 'learning professionals'.
Junior Education, April 2001.

Disabled pupils could be harmed by an overemphasis on mainstream education, a former Government education advisor has said. Dr. John Marks said children with some conditions like autism and Down's Syndrome might benefit more from special school education and criticised the 'inclusion or else' message in the Special Educational Needs and Disability Bill. According to Dr. Marks, different disabilities should be put into different categories with recommendations for the most suitable type of education. He said at a conference organised by the Centre for Policy Studies, 'We need to be more specific in what we do to help those with serious special educational needs. The case for special schools is considerably stronger now and many parents prefer them'.
Disability Now, April 2001.

The Government is to spend £10m on communication technology to help children with special educational needs and disabilities. The money will be spent on such things as voice recognition systems, hand-held spell checkers, speech synthesisers and simple mouth or eye-operated devices. 'As well as helping young people access the curriculum to learn alongside their peers, the project will aim to ease their transition from school into employment or further and higher education,' said Schools Minister, Jacqui Smith. 'In some cases this may mean that a particular piece of equipment goes with a young person. The concept of personal equipment will be at the heart of the work.'
Electronics Weekly, April 4, 2001.

A three-year plan for supporting children with emotional and behavioural needs has been drawn up by Kingston Council. The Education Act 1997 placed a requirement on all boroughs to prepare such a plan. The report is designed to ensure Kingston has greater awareness among parents and schools of the strategies for managing behaviour and dealing with behaviour problems. Last month there was a case involving a young boy with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) who was found with a concealed knife in school. He was immediately suspended until the Easter break, but the parents of the boy were unhappy with the way the school dealt with the situation. They felt that rather than helping teachers deal with their son, the diagnosis of ADHD had 'branded him'. The school refused to comment but it is hoped that the report would give better understanding and allow teachers to deal with similar problems effectively.
Surrey Comet (Royal Borough of Kingston), April 6, 2001.

Less than a year ago Jacqueline Duncan was worried sick about her 15-year-old son. Diagnosed with a behaviour disorder, he was eventually moved to a special base at his secondary school. But the youngster was very unhappy, difficult to control and his school work had slumped. Then came the breakthrough. The teenager was moved to Cordyce School -- specialising in caring for youngsters with social and behaviour difficulties across Aberdeen. Today, less than six months later, Jacqueline is astonished at his progress. However, now Jacqueline and her son, who does not want to be named, and others like him are faced with the prospect of Cordyce being closed. School bosses have drawn up controversial plans to transfer children with emotional and behaviour difficulties into special units at four secondaries.
Evening Express (Aberdeen), April 7, 2001.

A special educational needs review by Knowsley Council was carried out fairly and openly says a Council Sub-committee. The initial consultation process is now complete and further consultation will be carried out on the Council's plans for the future of special needs schools in the borough. Education Department officials have said that they are on target to reduce the number of special school places by at least 200 by 2006 but they also say that no final decision has been made about the future of special schools.
Huyton and Roby Star, April 12, 2001.

The first steps were taken in the construction of a new building at Bishopswood Special School last week. The project will provide five classrooms for primary age pupils at the current Sonning Common Primary School. Head teacher Valerie Northfield said: 'We are looking forward very much to moving into our new classrooms -- they will have everything to meet the children's needs. We are particularly pleased that the new building shares the site with the primary school, because specialist facilities in a mainstream setting is as near perfect as it gets.' Henley Standard, April 12, 2001.

School nurses must be brought back to help teachers deal with a growing number of sick children, a union has demanded. Teachers say they are being 'emotionally blackmailed' into giving out medicines -- leaving them wide open to allegations of abuse. Staff say they are expected to give valium suppositories to epileptic children, handle inhalers for asthmatics and give jabs to youngsters with allergies. Teacher Jo Spencer told an NASUWT conference in Jersey: 'I did not join the teaching profession to become a doctor.' And delegate, Ian Draper, said: 'Let us not forget that teachers are teachers, and not medics.'
The Mirror, April 20, 2001.

A Sheffield special school has won a glowing report for its specialist education and for the inclusion programme which helps pupils integrate in mainstream classes. Norfolk Park is a very effective school, said inspectors. Teaching quality is very good and as a result all pupils make good progress. The school also provides excellent support, enabling pupils with a wide range of special needs to be included in mainstream school on a part-time basis.
Sheffield Telegraph, April 20, 2001.

A support group has been opened to help disabled children with special needs attend mainstream schools. The PIPA project (Parents in Partnership Advancing Inclusion) based at the Gateway Centre, Hartcliffe, Bristol, will help parents obtain an equal and normal education for their children. Project manager Julie Watts said: 'So many special schools are outside the local community. Children with special needs often miss out on being a part of that community because so many events are organised through the school.'
Bristol Evening Post, April 23, 2001.

A disabled girl is still waiting for a place at a Leeds school eight months after her start date. Education officials have been promising for months to 'update staff skills' to deal with the girl's condition while giving her an education. But her mother is now despairing at the delays which have stopped her daughter starting her high school education. Asemah Samad is 11. She suffers from a rare condition which means she has to breath permanently through a tube inserted in her throat. The tube must be kept clear at all times. A spokesman for education in Leeds said: 'The Health Authority and Education Leeds are still liaising about how and when training will be carried out and we are confident the situation will be resolved soon.'
Yorkshire Evening Post, April 23, 2001.

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A new report from the Department of Education and Employment, the National Union of Teachers and Scope shows that all pupils -- not just those with disabilities - are benefiting from making schools accessible. Richard Brewster, chief executive of Scope says: 'The report shows the government was absolutely right to invest so significantly in access to education for disabled children. It is heartening to see that all pupils and teachers at schools funded through the Schools Access Initiative are reaping the rewards from the money spent so far.'
Disability Times, April/May 2001.

Swimming world record holder Elaine Barrett made a big splash at a swimming gala. Barrett, who won a silver and bronze medal at the Sydney Paralympics, demonstrated her prowess in front of pupils from all Bromley's special schools and seven mainstream schools. Howard Marshall, Bromley council's advisor for physical education and chairman of the Bromley sport's school council, said the gala brought mainstream and special schools together in a competitive yet enjoyable event.
Bromley and Beckenham Express, May 2, 2001.

The Special Educational Needs and Disability Bill is due to receive royal assent next week. The bill strengthens the rights of children with special needs in England and Wales to be educated in mainstream schools where the interests of other children can be protected.
Community Care, May 3, 2001.

Many schools are failing children with special educational needs according to the findings of a new survey conducted by Rathbone and Manchester Metropolitan University's Centre for Inclusive Education and Special Educational Needs. Rathbone embarked on the research after an increasing number of calls from parents indicated that the SEN system in mainstream schools was causing problems. The research involved 572 schools. Joyce Bryan, Rathbone's advice line co-ordinator said: 'Although we found pockets of good work, the general picture is a disturbing one of poor communication, lack of parental involvement and lack of appreciation and interest in the views and contributions of committed parents.
Chester Chronicle, May 4, 2001.

Dundee teachers are concerned that changes in arrangements for dealing with disruptive pupils could make matters worse. They argue that if they have to spend more time dealing with challenging pupils, time they spend with well-behaved pupils eager to learn will suffer. Under proposals by Dundee Education Department, schools would do more to keep SEBD pupils in the mainstream with help from a range of specialist teachers. Off-site units for pupils with severe problems would still exist but no pupil would be placed in such a centre for more than 12 weeks and they would be expected to return to their mainstream schools.
Dundee Courier and Advertiser, May 8, 2001.

In a letter to the Editor, staff at the School of the Good Shepherd in Liverpool which is under threat of closure say that their pupils could not cope within a mainstream school because of their problems and would be isolated if placed in a 'unit' alongside a mainstream school. According to the staff: 'In our opinion, failure of a child in an inclusive setting is the worst kind of exclusion.'
Liverpool Echo, May 9, 2001.

Increasing numbers of schools will soon have to reassess their attitudes to disabled children when the Special Education Needs and Disability Bill becomes law in September. Richard Rieser, director of the charity Disability Equality in Education, is working with schools and colleges to train staff in preparation for the reforms. He believes that only one or two per cent. of the country's 24,000 schools are ready to cope with the changes brought by the Bill. 'The Bill will mean real change for many schools,' he said. 'Historically, some schools have simply taken on inclusion but even more have not. They have just told parents of a child with special needs, 'we can't take you but we know of a school down that road that can', so there has been a clustering effect. The old idea was that the child with special needs had a problem. The solution was to diagnose the problem and support the child in order to cope with it. The new way of thinking starts from the premise that every child has the right to attend their local school. The school must look to see what are the barriers keeping that child out and work to remove them'.
The Independent, May 10 2001.

A special school threatened with closure is to be visited by inspectors. The team from the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) will conduct a full five-day study of Bownham Park in Stroud later this month. Meanwhile teachers and parents are still waiting to here about the school's future under Gloucestershire County Council's plans to reorganise special education in the area. The government-appointed adjudicator who will decide Bownham Park's fate is expected to give a decision within a month. Graham Barton, chair of the Special School Protection League, said the inspection was the 'cruellest irony' for staff already struggling to maintain morale.
Gloucestershire Echo, May 10, 2001.

Parents have formed an action group to make sure pupils with severe medical problems get what they need. Western Park School parents claim that Leicester City Council proposals for changes to the special education service would put the lives of children with severe medical needs in danger. Pete Rodwell, action group chair, said proposals in the council consultation document did not take sufficient account of medically delicate children. The proposed shake-up aims to transfer most children currently in the city's nine special schools to mainstream schools. Mr. Rodwell said it was unacceptable that the only guidance on how medically-delicate children's needs would be met in mainstream was a statement that teachers would be offered training to give medication on a voluntary basis. Western Park head, Jane Booth, said: 'I understand parents' concerns and feel confident we can work with the LEA to ensure their views are considered as part of the consultation.'
Leicester Mercury, May 17, 2001.

The Indian government is to abandon separate education for disabled children and has asked all states to integrate such pupils into mainstream schools by the next academic year. The dramatic change of policy could eventually raise the number of disabled children in school in India by 30 million. Ninety-eight per cent. of disabled children do not go to school. Most Indian schools use various pretexts to refuse admission to children with any form of disability. There are only 2,000 special schools, of which 500 get a Government grant and the rest are run by voluntary agencies. While educationalists have welcomed the move to integrate disabled children into mainstream they have asked the government to look into the needs of these children carefully. Little progress has so far been achieved on 1995 legislation to give disabled children access to mainstream schools and other educational programmes.
Times Educational Supplement, May 18, 2001.

Barking and Dagenham Council is one of five local authorities accused of operating a blanket policy on special needs by refusing to specify the extent of additional help available to children with special educational needs. Other authorities being investigated by the Department for Education and Employment are Derbyshire, Essex and Kent. Officials have already written to Barnet telling the Council it needs to change the way it writes statements to comply with the law. Derbyshire and Essex are believed to have been cleared of acting unlawfully by the DfEE and inquiries into the actions of Barking and Dagenham and Kent are said to be continuing. All four authorities deny operating blanket policies. More than 250,000 children have special needs severe enough to warrant a statement setting out the extra help they should be given. Although the law does not require LEAs to specify the number of hours of additional provision each child should receive, it says the need should be assessed separately and provision quantified where necessary. The number of children in England with statements has increased by 45,000 since the general election. New figures from the DfEE this week show that in January 2001, 261,000 pupils had statements compared to 253,000 last year. More are also being educated in mainstream schools, 61 per cent. this year, compared to 57 per cent. in 1997.
Times Educational Supplement , May 18, 2001.

Parents of children at a school for children with physical disabilities which has been threatened with closure, were granted permission to mount a judicial review to challenge the decision by a high court judge last week. Lambeth Council wants to merge Thurlow Park Special School in south London with three other special schools in the area, including two that cater for children with severe difficulties.
Community Care, May 24, 2001.

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The Scottish Down's Syndrome Association is launching new guidelines for hospital staff on how to tell parents that their new baby has Down's Syndrome. The guidelines are being launched to coincide with Down's Syndrome Awareness Week. The association says that how a parent is told can have a dramatic effect on how they relate to their new baby.
Evening Express (Aberdeen), June 2, 2001.

Five Wandsworth, London, residents were presented with certificates of achievement recently after completing their training as Independent Parental Supporters. The group are now qualified to offer independent advice and support to parents with a child with special education needs undergoing assessment. Some parents choose a relative, a friend or worker from a voluntary group to support them but they can also request a volunteer through the Wandsworth Partnership Service, which co-ordinated the training scheme. All five volunteers completed a total of nine training sessions.
Battersea News, June 8, 2001.

The head teacher of a city special needs unit today claimed moving children to mainstream schools had been rushed through. Rosemary Murray, head of the Raeden Centre, was giving evidence at a tribunal where a former Marlpool Special School head, Meg Taylor is claiming constructive dismissal by Aberdeen City Council. Mrs. Murray also claimed that special needs head teachers sometimes felt they were being treated like naughty children by education officials.
Evening Express (Aberdeen), June 12, 2001

Sheffield's education department is beginning an ambitious consultation exercise to review the provision of education for children and young people with special educational needs. The principles of the project are based on the themes set out by the Government in its Education Green Paper: *Setting high expectations for children with special educational needs reflected in all school policies *Supporting parents of Children with SEN . *Promoting the inclusion of children with SEN within mainstream schooling wherever possible, recognising the primary importance of meeting individual children's needs and developing the role of special schools to meet the continuing needs of some. *Changing the focus in meeting special educational needs from procedures to practical support and, wherever possible , prevention by early intervention. *Boosting opportunities for professional development for teachers and others. *Promoting partnership in SEN locally, regionally, and nationally.
Barnsley Star, June 14, 2001.

A Bradford group for parents of autistic children is appealing for more male members. The group -- called Autism in Mainstream Schools, affiliated to the Bradford and District Autism Support Group -- was formed last September and now has more than 30 members. But while mothers welcome the chance to meet up and share advice, the group is lacking in dads. 'Men don't always reveal their feelings as much as women,' says health visitor Pat Preece. 'Having an autistic child can put a huge strain on family relationships and both parents benefit from outside support. We would like to see more fathers at the meetings.'
Bradford Telegraph and Argus, June 12, 2001.

A youngster who suffers from a severe form of cerebral palsy has become the first youngster in Suffolk to be placed in a mainstream school using an electronic communication aid. Four-year-old Holly Goodwyn has been attending a nursery class at Sidegate Primary School in Ipswich for the past month and is already enrolled for full-time education at the school in January - thanks to the state-of-the-art computer device. The Alpha Talker computer gives Holly a choice of pictures which each have a set of words which when pressed release a computer-generated voice.
East Anglican Daily Times (East Edition), June 20, 2001.

A disabled student has lost her three-year battle for what she says is her rightful first-class degree after medication left her in a 'drugged daze' for her final year. Mother of three, Cathi Penman, 44, says the painkiller interfered with her work and added to frustrations she experienced as a disabled student. However, Sunderland University chiefs say they have found no evidence that she deserves a better degree. She has heard from solicitors at the National Union of Students that she can take her case no further.
Newcastle Upon Tyne Journal, June 22, 2001.

A head teacher has pledged to improve facilities for disabled people at their school after a serious accident left her in a wheelchair. Jane Roberts returned to Chase Terrace Primary School this week after badly injuring herself in a fall at her home. Her experience since her return have highlighted the school's inadequate provision for disabled people and she has vowed to make changes. She said: 'This has been a tremendous learning experience for me. I don't think an able-bodied person can possible understand all the issues for our disabled pupils from observations. My accident has helped me to practically experience some of the difficulties which face our disabled students daily.'
Cannock Express and Star, June 22, 2001.

A meeting at the Groes Inn near Conwy marked a milestone in the struggle of disabled people in North Wales for equal opportunities. The meeting was held to mark the passage into law on May 11, 2001, of the Special Educational Needs and Disability in Education Act. The Act will enhance opportunities for children with disabilities to be educated in a mainstream setting and obliges all schools and colleges to review their provision for disabled childen and adults. The Disability Rights Commissioner for Wales, Dr. Kevin Fitzpatrick said: 'Unfair discrimination against young people in the classroom and lecture theatre will now hopefully become a thing of the past.'
North Wales Weekly News, June 28, 2001.

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The Special Educational Needs and Disability Act, passed in May 2001, provides new protection for disabled pupils against discrimination. From 2002 there will be a new duty on schools to make reasonable adjustments so that disabled pupils are not at a substantial disadvantage in admission, education, associated services and exclusions. Greater equality for disabled students and staff is seen as an important part of a truly comprehensive system.
The Teacher, July 1, 2001.

Enable, Scotland's largest charity for people with learning disabilities, is looking for people to take part in a project to combat bullying by schoolchildren. The charity was awarded £83,768 by the Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Fund to continue training 15 people with learning disabilities to visit schools to talk about their experiences of bullying. Enable will also be working with people with learning disabilities and pupils to develop an anti-bullying pack.
Dundee Courier and Advertiser, July 3, 2001

Brian Lamb, chair of the Special Education Consortium, says that the SEN lobby remains deeply suspicious about one of the remaining caveats governing disabled pupils access to mainstream schooling in the new SEN law. He says that the caveat that prevents disabled children being educated in mainstream schools if they affect the education of other children could be used by less committed or cash strapped authorities to divert children from mainstream provision. A further concern is that it creates an assumption that disabled students are more disruptive and undermines the inclusionist intent of the legislation. The new SEN Act also introduced an important requirement for strategic planning to increase the accessibility of the school and the curriculum.
Times Educational Supplement, July 6, 2001.

The Disability Rights Commission (DRC) has issued a draft code of practice for consultation. The DRC Code of Practice will explain to schools the new disability discrimination duties towards disabled children and young people under the SEN and Disability Act 2001. A separate draft code will be issued at the same time to explain the new duties on further and higher education and the youth service towards disabled people. If parents think their child has been discriminated against they will be able to make a claim of disability discrimination on their child's behalf. The claim is made to the SEN and Disability Tribunal. The DRC will make available conciliation arrangements to seek to resolve issues before they reach the Tribunal.
Times Educational Supplement, July 6, 2001.

Work has started on a £255,000 building upgrade to improve movement of pupils around a school site and open it up for disabled people. The development at Alec Hunter High School in Braintree includes a new corridor link and lift. Work began this week. The investment has been made in the light of the Government plan to open up schools to disabled pupils and visitors. A school spokeswoman said: 'It will open up the entire curriculum to disabled students.'
Braintree and Witham Times, July 12, 2001.

Controversial guidelines governing the level of provision for children with special educational needs have been withdrawn by the Government for reconsideration. The Government has confirmed that it is re-examining guidance on quantification of statements of special educational needs in the new SEN Code which is part of recent legislation on SEN and Disability. The 'climb down' follows criticism that removing current requirements to quantify levels of provision will make it harder for children to get help. The new code had been expected to be published in September.
BBC News Online, July 12, 2001.

A personal defeat turned to victory last night for Jamie Sinnott and thousands of people with disabilities. A wave of public anger over a Supreme Court decision denying the 23-year-old autistic man the right to education appeared to have forced a substantial change in official attitudes. Education Minister Dr Michael Woods went so far as to say he had 'virtually an open cheque book' to ensue the State made full and appropriate provision for the education and care of people with disabilities. He said the State recognised that it had not made adequate provision in the past but that the Government was doing a rapid catch-up in trying to provide services. And he promised that Jamie and his mother Kathryn would receive all the money awarded to them by an earlier High Court decision which the Supreme Court overturned yesterday.
Irish Independent (Dublin), July 13, 2001.

A special school earmarked for closure has been given a reprieve. Sefton Council wants to close Good Shepherd special school in Sterrix Lane, Litherland, which caters for 34 children with disabilities aged between two and 17. The council says the issue is not about saving money. It argues that children would receive a better education at one of the borough's six other mainstream schools or at a mainstream school. But now closure has been postponed for six months so parents and the school can try and find a way to save it. Head teacher, Alan Sullivan, said: 'It gives us until December to look at a business plan to see if there are other opportunities that the school can explore to make it more viable.'
Liverpool Echo, July 20, 2001.

Julie Jones, whose nine-year-old daughter is autistic, is pleased with her progress at Denholme Primary School which has a specialist unit. But she said other members of AWARE (Airedale and Wharfedale Autism Resource) have been left 'in limbo'. They want their children to be transferred from special schools to mainstream schools with full support but they don't know where the money is coming from. She says her own experience of the system has been positive because she 'pushed and pushed and pushed' to get support for her daughter.
Bradford Telegraph and Argus, July 30, 2001.

The news that education bosses plan to slim down the number of special schools across Bradford will be disturbing for those parents whose children have special needs. But this is a nettle that is finally being firmly grasped. The Special Needs Service was criticised in the Ofsted inspection of May 2000. Inspectors found the education authority was failing its legal duties by taking far too long to complete assessments on pupils and not providing proper registered units for children who had been excluded from schools. Now in a comprehensive overhaul of the system, there are plans to reduce, year on year, the number of children being admitted to special schools and make room for them in ordinary schools.
Bradford Telegraph and Argus, July 30, 2001.

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The Taoiseach and Tanaiste were last night urged to meet representatives of people with disabilities in a bid to prepare a Disabilities Bill. A meeting of several hundred people in Limerick was told that a report from the Commission on People with Disabilities in 1996 had recommended that a Disabilities Bill should be implemented but nothing had happened since then. The meeting followed the decision of the Supreme Court not to guarantee continuing primary education rights for Jamie Sinnott.
Irish Independent, Dublin, August 2 2001.

Two Ulster mums today claimed that their autistic sons have been barred from local summer schemes. Cian McFarland (9) and Tray Slavik (5) have both been prevented from attending separate schemes running over the school holidays. Cian's mother said: 'Cian has been left out and rejected and we have not been told why.' The South Eastern Board declined to comment on individual cases.
Belfast Telegraph, August 3, 2001.

More than 2,000 people have backed a petition urging Leicester City Council to keep special schools open. Parents have accused the authority of trying to close the schools through the back door by deliberately cutting the numbers of children taught in them. The Council has denied the claims and insists it has no plans to close any of the nine special schools in the city. The Government requires all education authorities to look at ways of including more children with special needs in mainstream schools.
Leicester Mercury, August 21, 2001.

Adele Waterfall-Brown, the first youngster with severe sight problems to attend a mainstream school in Darlington, was today anxiously collecting the results of her nine GCSEs. Looking back on her school life, Adele said she was lucky to have attended Hummersknott School. 'I think it is great because it gives the choice of mixing with kids who have not got disabilities and it builds your confidence. The head of Hummersknott, David Henderson, said the school now had a unit for the visually impaired and accepted its first totally blind student two years ago. 'Before Adele, we had pupils with physical disabilities but not those who were visually impaired. Adele blossomed during her time here and has blazed a trail in a sense. It's a remarkable achievement.'
Northern Echo, Darlington, August 23, 2001.

Maresa MacKeith is a bright, able 16-year-old who has just landed a string of As and Bs at GCSE. Like thousands of other teenage girls she was celebrating yesterday - by going out clothes shopping with a friend. And like thousands of others, next month she will start A-levels at College to continue her studies. Unlike most teenagers however, Maresa has had a long and difficult road to exam success. She was born with cerebral palsy and cannot write, talk or walk. The brain condition means she is confined to a wheelchair and has limited control of her movements. The 16-year-old communicates by pointing to a specially designed message board which includes all the letters of the alphabet along with common words and phrases. A facilitator helps Maresa to use the message board and interpret what she is saying. At exam time they were joined by a scribe who transcribed all Maresa's answers in six subjects. Maresa started at Ellis Guildford Comprehensive in Old Basford at the age of 14, after five years of fighting by her mother, Caroline, for a full-time place in a mainstream school.
Nottingham Evening Post, August 24, 2001.

If teachers decide not to take school trips, they will have to be extremely careful about their reasons to avoid criticism or formal claims for damages. Teachers who refuse to offer school trips are in danger of receiving claims of failure to educate and if they refuse to take a pupil on the grounds of ill health or disability they could face claims under the Disability Discrimination Act. There is a difficult balance to be struck and underwriters should not be seen to discourage appropriately and safely organised school trips.
Post Magazine (Insurance Weekly), August 30, 2001.

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A new report by the disability charity Scope, That Kind of Life, reveals that disabled young people with high support needs are still being excluded from society. Young people report major failings in the very services which are aimed at providing them with a better quality of life. Key issues highlighted are isolation, lack of control, not being listened to, feelings of being unsafe and the denial of opportunities to make a contribution to their own communities. They also point out that there are significant differences between what social exclusion means to the Government and what it really means to young people themselves. Paul Gemmill, director of policy at the Disability Rights Commission (DRC), said the report highlights many of the concerns that the DRC was already aware of. Gemmill says that cost is often used as a way of denying choice but argues that careful consideration of all the options can result in a much more successful outcome without putting an extra burden on overstretched budgets.
Community Care, September 6, 2001.

A ground-breaking project in west Wales aims to help young people with autism by providing technology links between schools. The goal is to encourage the pupils to communicate more widely via structured lessons plans using video-conferencing, email and film. The first link is already being established between the autistic centre and special educational needs department at Pembroke Secondary School and the infant and junior autistic units at nearby Pembroke Dock Community School. More than 50 youngsters are likely to be involved in the first stage of the scheme. The project is innovative because it has scope to improve communication skills at the same time as helping young people feel part of the community by getting closer to other schools and the outside world. The inability to deal with new people causes major problems for autistic children when they move to secondary school.
The Guardian, September 11, 2001.

Twelve-year-old schoolboy Marc Powell, who is visually impaired, cannot do his schoolwork properly because no one will carry his computer to lessons for him. Mark from Halewood Village, Liverpool, spent much of his summer holiday learning how to use the specially adapted laptop and printer but he has been told that his support workers at his new school, Halewood Comprehensive, will not carry the equipment. As the youngster needs the laptop and printer in most classes, he is making as many as six trips across the school everyday. His father, Terry, claims the refusal is the latest round of a three-year battle with Knowsley education officials over Marc's schooling. A spokeswoman for Knowsley Council said: 'We appreciate he should not have to carry it, but we are just putting our heads together to find out what's gone wrong and how we can put it right.'
Daily Post (Liverpool), September 20, 2001.

The controversial move to accommodate special needs pupils in mainstream education has split the Labour Party in Aberdeen. The row between members has been sparked by plans to move Carden School pupils to Craighill School, Kincorth. Kincorth branch secretary, Mr. Allan McKechnie, explained that branch members were deeply unhappy about the way the issue had been handled and had urged the Labour-controlled city council to think again about the decision. He added: "We don't know how the kids are feeling. We're saying there should be proper consultations on the whole matter and this has not happened.'
Evening Post, Aberdeen, September 24, 2001.

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Schools need to pay more than lip service to plans aimed at integrating special needs children into mainstream, an autistic group has claimed. Bromley council's education committee recently adopted a policy for special needs education following a lengthy consultation process. Closer ties will be formed between mainstream and special needs units to enhance the education of children with learning and physical difficulties. Bromley Autistic Trust Director, Carol Pover, has welcomed the policy but says proof will be in the implementation. 'Many schools will actually need to change their cultures and ensure the children are managed in an equal way with proper anti-bullying policies in place and training given to staff'.
Kentish Times (Bromley and Beckenham), October 5, 2001.

Education chiefs in Leeds have launched a video trumpeting the success of the city's schools in helping children with special needs. The video, A Better World, is being given to schools across the city as a training resource for staff and as information for parents. The video focuses on the success of inclusive education for children with special needs -- from language difficulties to learning and physical disabilities -- at two schools, the Lovell Park Early Years Centre and Ralph Thoresby High School, Holt Park. Chris Edwards, chief executive of Education Leeds, said: 'This video shows how successful Leeds schools are at promoting inclusive education which demonstrates the real benefits for all children, not just those with special needs.'
Yorkshire Evening Post, Leeds, October 12, 2001.

Families of disabled children are living in poverty because childcare services are not geared to their requirements, according to a new report. Out of school care for the UK's half a million disabled children is rarely appropriate or affordable, the study by the Daycare Trust and Contact A Family found. As a result, parents who face the higher costs of raising a disabled child are unable to work, study or train. The report, Ambitious For All, was launched at the annual social services conference in Harrogate, North Yorkshire. Director of the Daycare Trust, Stephen Burke, said: 'We must be ambitious for all children in the UK. Good quality childcare enables children to fulfil their potential and get a good start in life. It allows parents to work or study and increase family income.'
Wolverhampton Express and Star, October 18, 2001.

The Chairman of the National Society for Mentally Handicapped People in Residential Care, Richard S. Jackson, has criticised special school closures and called for genuine choice for parents. In a letter to the editor, he says although ministers have given assurances that parents will have a choice of special or mainstream schools, closures of special schools denies such choice. According to Mr. Jackson, the usual argument of 'closures to improve services' has already decimated the overall care service to people with a mental handicap and their families and left a crisis-led rather than a needs-led service.
Manchester Evening News, October 24, 2001.

A mother has won her legal battle to have her son sent to a special school because of fears that he would be targeted by playground bullies. Perth and Kinross Council's decision to try to send Jamie MacPherson, 12, to an ordinary secondary school has been over-turned by a sheriff. The education authority has been ordered to pay the £10,000 per term cost of sending James to the New School, at Butterstone, Perthshire. Sheriff Michael Fletcher has ruled that the boy's vulnerability means that he would struggle to cope with secondary school. He said the authority's experts had been 'over optimistic' about the ability of Perth Grammar to deal with a pupil such as Jamie. 'The medical evidence is against attending Perth Grammar School and my view is clearly that it would adversely affect his health to do so.'
Herald, Glasgow, October 26, 2001.

Pupils at a London primary school are letting their fingers do the talking in sign language classes. All 50 staff and more than 400 pupils at Morningside school in Hackney, east London, are learning the basics of British Sign Language, inspired by deaf teacher Lesley Reeves who joined the school in July. The move is part of the schools preparations to welcome deaf and hearing-impaired children into mainstream classes. Head teacher, Jean Milham said: 'We hope to open to deaf children in April. We are going to start with children in the nursery and perhaps reception classes. We are all beginning to become deaf aware and we are all learning sign.'
Times Educational Supplement, October 26, 2001

Wilson Stuart School in Birmingham has a bank of information and resources for use with children with a wide range of disabilities which are made available to schools throughout the area. The availability of resources and information, together with specialist expertise, means that most questions from local schools with inclusion policies can be answered. Service co-ordinator, Barbara Hunter, and colleague, Nicky Muncey, are in daily contact with teachers seeking advice and are also involved in training. The team advises on the educational implications of disability, classroom support, mobility and equipment.
Times Educational Supplement, October 26, 2001.

Aspley Wood Special School in Nottingham and St Teresa's School have formed a partnership for technology lessons. Groups of seven and eight-year-olds from St Teresa's have been joining Year 3 pupils from Aspley Wood in lessons on structures, mechanisms and food technology. Technology provides good opportunities for sharing, communicating and collaborative working for pupils and staff. The pupils work in pairs and each partner or 'buddy' makes a distinctive contribution to the design.
Times Educational Supplement, October 26, 2001

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A disabled teenager was left an answerphone message saying she could not start her university studies -- four days before the course was due to begin. Hayriye Mehmet, 19, who has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair, was accepted onto a Brighton University travel and tourism course to be held at City College, Brighton and Hove. But shortly before the start she received a message saying delays to building work meant the campus was no longer accessible and her place would be deferred until next year. She said she felt very angry and had written to the university, college, her MP and Prime Minister, Tony Blair.
Disability Now, November 1, 2001.

Legal experts are to investigate the cases of 20 special needs children in the Scottish Borders following claims their education authority is breaching human rights and health and safety legislation by imposing damaging cuts on services. A dossier telling the stories of families who have suffered as a result of the cutbacks was presented to the Scottish Borders Council. It is also being used as evidence by the lobbying group Borders Equality in Education in a hard-hitting submission to parliamentarians investigating the Border's budget overspend.
The Scotsman, November 7, 2001.

A school has been ordered to accept an autistic boy even though its specialist unit is full. An education tribunal has ruled that the Abbey School, Faversham, must find 14-year-old Jonathan Green a place. The school had been breaking the law by refusing to admit the teenager because its autistic centre already had 16 pupils, the maximum number it could cope with. But this week the Department for Education and Skills told chair of governors, Lesley Temple, that she and the rest of the governing body had an 'unqualified duty' to admit the teenager. She has been told that she must confirm by the end of the week a the latest that a place has been found for him.
Faversham News, November 15, 2001.

A flagship 'co-location' project to merge a primary school and a special school in Sutton Coldfield has been revealed. Under the proposed scheme Langley Special School would relocate from its Lindbridge Road site to Coppice Junior and Infant School in Trinity Road. The move, one of the first of its kind in Birmingham, is part of the City Council's inclusive education plan, which will see children with special needs working alongside classmates in mainstream classes. The plan has the support of both heads. MP for Sutton Coldfield, Andrew Mitchell, who has visited both schools called the project 'an exciting and logical development' and stressed the need to get it right and implement it effectively.
Sutton Coldfield News, November 16, 2001.

Four special schools in York are to close as part of a major shake-up to special needs education in the city. They will be replaced by two new schools for primary and secondary age pupils. The move is in response to pressure from parents to absorb children with special needs into mainstream education. The integrated approach has resulted in falling demand for special needs places for children with all but severe and profound special needs at Fulford Cross, Northfield, Galtres and Lidget Grove schools. Director of Education, Patrick Scott said: 'Closing schools is always a tough decision but we are being forced to adjust to the changed expectations of parents. The Special Education Needs and Disability Act requires us to improve access to mainstream education for children with special needs'.
Yorkshire Post, Leeds, November 23, 2001.

Kent County Council has teamed up with a charity in a new initiative designed to include more blind and visually impaired children in mainstream schools. The partnership between the county council and the Kent Association for the Blind will bring opportunities for learning to visually impaired children as part of the KCC's All Together Better Project. The initiative aims to raise standards and meet the needs of children with special or additional educational needs. The one-year scheme costing £24,500 will be co-ordinated by KAB and schools that will take part are currently being identified. Paul Carter, KCC cabinet member for educational standards said: 'Disability should not be a barrier to education. Many blind and partially sighted children receive an excellent education in special schools, but this initiative is intended to extend choice offering pupils the opportunity to attend their local school and learn with their peers.'
Whitstable Times, November 29, 2001.

A redundant drama block at Berwick High School has been transformed into a modern study centre for students experiencing difficulty in their education. The school received a £50,000 grant from the government to create the study centre, which is designed to help students with behavioural problems or who require individual support or an alternative curriculum to stay in the education system. Head teacher Stephen Quinlan said the new facilities would provide a new beginning for such students. 'They will each have an individual action plan, incorporating individual tuition within the centre, support in the home, on going partnerships with teachers, parents and outside agencies, such as the welfare and youth services. The centre, the first of its kind in Northumberland, already has 30 students on its books and can be used by up to six at any one time. Its design is based around a modern commercial office rather than a classroom, with six computer stations, a quiet study area, meeting room and office. A full-time learning support teacher and four assistants have been appointed to manage it.
Berwick Advertiser, November 29, 2001,

At least half of all special school pupils in Leeds will be transferred to mainstream education under radical new plans. Education Leeds has admitted the scheme could lead to the closure of some of the ten existing special schools. But it claims it will produce a service better suited to the needs of individual pupils, with current staff and resource levels retained to support pupils in their new mainstream schools. With about 1,000 pupils in the city's ten special schools, at least 750 pupils would be involved. One anonymous special school teacher said staff were gravely concerned about the implications for special needs children. However the head of one of the special schools, David Dewhirst, of Broomfield Special School, said there was nothing to be afraid of in the proposals. Pupils who could cope with mainstream would do so and those who needed extra support of a special school would remain there for all or part of the time.
Yorkshire Post, Leeds, November 29, 2001

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A new book aims to help teachers support autistic children in mainstream. Teaching Young Children with Autistic Spectrum Disorders to Learn is written by Liz Hannah and stems from her experience of a London education authority where she worked with autistic children in mainstream settings. The book offers practical support on topics such as developing early communication and gives ideas for activities that will help in different areas of learning. Examples are provided to show how particular children might respond to different approaches and there are practical tips on how to to use rewards and timetables.
Practical Pre-School Update, December 1, 2001.

Most people do not want children with learning difficulties or mental health problems taught in the same schools as their sons and daughters according to a survey. But two thirds would be happy to see disabled children children taught alongside able-bodied classmates, according to a poll for the Disability Rights Commission. Only 12 per cent. said disabled children should be confined to special schools. Disabled youngsters will have the legal right to be taught in mainstream schools from September.
The Mirror, December 3, 2001.

Disabled pupils don't have to miss out on fun and games at school, thanks to new PE equipment designed specially for them. St Philip Evans RC Primary School, Cardiff, has been able to buy £1,500 worth of sports equipment for youngsters with special needs. Most of the money was raised during a parents' fundraising evening. The school's latest inspection report has commended special needs provision. Headteacher, Catherine Power said: 'The inspectors were most impressed with the way all pupils are fully integrated into the life and work of the school. PE is the hardest area for integration but the new equipment means that when able bodied children are doing PE, the disabled children can join in too.'
South Wales Echo, Cardiff, December 7, 2001.

There is no coherent strategy for educating children with autism, a survey of local education authorities has revealed. Although almost all authorities report that numbers are increasing, they don't know how many children are affected or how to deal with them. This makes planning and training of staff extremely difficult, says the All Party Parliamentary Group on Autism which organised the survey. Stephen Ladyman, chairman of the group said: 'We are not blaming anybody but the truth is that nobody has faced up to the problem. Now we are beginning to get a sense of how big it is, and the need to deal more effectively with it.'
The Times, December 13, 2001.

A major shake-up of the provision for children with special educational needs in Liverpool will begin in the new year after months of consultation. Over five years a number of special schools will close and more children will be channelled back into mainstream schools with greater support and training for teachers to help them to cope. Stuart Smith, Liverpool's assistant director of education, said: 'It's national government strategy and city council policy to maximise inclusion wherever possible. It's in the long term interest of all pupils to be educated with their peers in the local community because they will all live in their community at some time.'
Liverpool Echo, December 17, 2001.

The Joint University Centre at Yeovil College is working towards increasing disabled access to higher education through making students aware of the funding and facilities available to them. Phil Hunt, the centre's, disability co-ordinator, is planning to give presentations to sixth forms in local schools to make them aware of the disabled students' allowance which funds the equipment and support needed by disabled people. It is only in recent years this funding has been made available to encourage higher education. It can be used for equipment like special software or a radio microphone, photocopying costs and non-medical support, for example sign language interpretation.
Yeovil South Somerset and Sherborne Times, December 19, 2001.

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