Centre for Studies on Inclusive Education

supporting inclusion, challenging exclusion

news from 2004

End of year review

Mainstream developments in the struggle for inclusion

The findings of the first in-depth look at inclusion since legal reforms made it easier for disabled children to join mainstream emerged as one of the main developments in 2004. The report from Ofsted found that contrary to popular opinion the number of disabled children in mainstream schools had not increased since the Special Educational Needs and Disability Act of 2001. In addition, of those children who were in mainstream, only a proportion seemed to be benefiting. A minority of schools led the way by adapting their policies and practices to accommodate all, but in general the report gave a gloomy picture of inclusion. Campaigners said that because inclusion was difficult did not mean it was a mistake or could not be achieved. As the Ofsted report made clear, disabled pupils did well when mainstream schools adapted to their needs. They said it was up to the Government to ensure every disabled child, wherever taught, received the right support and that the support was better resourced than at present. Elsewhere the Government's mixed message that both inclusion and segregation were appropriate for disabled pupils was blamed for the lack of progress.

On the bright side, a Leeds special schoolteacher reported unprecedented benefits from his school moving staff and pupils into mainstream together. He said the move provided opportunities and experiences which could never have been achieved in his 'special' school. New national standards for head teachers scored a first by stressing the importance of a commitment to inclusion and Bolton Institute, one of the leaders in training for inclusion, welcomed Russian education directors for a study tour.

A survey by the Down's Syndrome Association had gloomy news with a third of parents saying they experienced discrimination from education staff and half reporting a lack of specialist knowledge. This report was followed by evidence of the positive aspects of inclusion for pupils with Down's Syndrome. Liz Crowther, mother of nine-year-old Heidi, spoke about how her daughter was paving the way for greater understanding and tolerance about difference for future generations.

In terms of reorganisation, 2004 saw some interesting developments with a school for blind children setting up an inclusive nursery. In Darlington moves to integrate service provision led to plans for a multi-million pound 'education village' with a primary school, a secondary school and a school for children with special needs on the same site. According to the report, each school in the village will have a home base but most of the facilities will by co-used by all pupils. In Oxfordshire it cost £4 million to combine a special school and a primary school into what was described as a 'model of inclusive education'. 'New model' was also the term used to describe the amalgamation of two 'special' schools. The Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment and the Royal Institute of British Architects seemed to recognise that inclusion is here to stay by issuing a report stressing that schools of the future will have to respond to many new demands including how to include children with physical and emotional difficulties and how to adapt to an ever-changing curriculum.

During the year it was also made clear that the reform of school league tables would be going ahead to ensure that all pupils achievements could be acknowledged. The then Education Secretary, Charles Clarke, said he was concerned that league tables were hampering inclusion by making schools reluctant to take children with special needs. Exams came under the spotlight as well with an English teacher complaining that allowing special arrangements for disabled pupils in examinations was unfair - a criticism which was promptly discounted by parents who said it was unfair not to.

Government and LEA trends

The Department of Education and Skills' keenly awaited new strategy document for special educational needs was published at the beginning of the year. The document, Removing Barriers to Achievement, made clear that the Government had no intention of recommending the closure of all special schools, saying that they were still needed for some children whose parents preferred them to go there. The Centre For Studies on Inclusive Education (CSIE) responded to the news with dismay and pointed out that special schools perpetuated discrimination, devaluation, stigmatization, stereotyping, prejudice, and isolation - conditions identified by disabled adults as the biggest barriers to participation and a full life.

Several LEAs followed the Government lead by announcing that its policy of inclusion was no threat to 'special' schools, although they conceded 'special' schools did face a changing role through greater links with mainstream. Despite the new emphasis on retention, closures of 'special' schools continued. It was said that falling rolls - the result of parents preferring mainstream - made them unviable. In Cheshire the County Council pledged that in the event of closure every child would be fully assessed as preparation for the move to mainstream. And in Gloucestershire it was reported that the battle for 'special' schools there was finally lost, although parents who held up traffic on a protest march appeared not to accept it. Various criticisms about the reorganisation taking place in Bradford were reported, including concerns about the teaching of deaf children using sign language interpreters in mainstream schools and the results of a survey among head teachers and special needs co-coordinators which found longstanding discontent with the special needs service generally.

Newham, one of the first LEAs to develop inclusive education, was successful in bidding for a share of £2.2 billion Government funding to rebuild or refurbish secondary schools in two years. It was reported that the money from the 'Building Schools for the Future' initiative would deliver fully accessible buildings with modern information technology facilities to support the borough's inclusion policy.

School disputes and legal challenges

Important benchmarks for inclusive practice were reported in April as a result of two landmark cases at The Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal. In one case a tribunal ruled that a school which discriminated by excluding a pupil with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder should provide appropriate training for staff. And in another the Tribunal ruled that lack of continuity of support assistants for a pupil with cerebral palsy amounted to disability discrimination. The Tribunal heard that Sophie Needham had a series 14 temporary assistants after her two full-time assistants left. Meanwhile a father threatened to sue a comprehensive school for failing to provide proper maths lessons for his high-achieving daughters. He sought to recover the money he spent on additional home study courses, claiming that his daughters were neglected because the school concentrated on raising the achievement of less able pupils.

In Cardiff it was reported that action would be taken in the case of a teacher who taped up the mouth of a pupil with special needs to stop him chatting to classmates during lessons and in Hampshire a court decided to take no action against a couple because of their son's truancy. The court heard that the boy missed 41 school days because he was struggling with learning difficulties and was too stressed to attend. In Liverpool a mother vowed that she would rather face prosecution than send her son to a 'special' school. 'Special' schools are closing in the area and the Council said it supported a policy of inclusion, but there were a small number of children for whom mainstream education was not appropriate. In London, the SEN and Disability Tribunal upheld the decision of Barnet Council not to pay £18,000-a-year for an eight year old pupil with cerebral palsy to attend a 'special' school for orthodox Jewish children. It agreed with the Council that it was not necessary for the girl to attend a religious school.

Comments, criticisms and campaigns

British Blind Sports Athletics (BBSA) warned that the country's inclusive education policy made it more difficult to train the next generation of disabled athletes. A survey revealed that disabled pupils spent less time on sporting activities than their able bodied peers. In addition it was no longer as easy to spot potential talent now that disabled pupils had been dispersed into the mainstream from special schools. Criticism by Tory MP David Cameron that parents of disabled children felt pressured to find places in the mainstream was followed later in the year by the news that the Conservatives were reviewing Labour's policy on inclusion and might reverse it if they came into power. They spoke of children being physically included but educationally excluded in mainstream.

The year ended on a strong note of protest with the launch of a new disability rights campaign to close all special schools by the year 2020 and bring disabled pupils into mainstream. The National Autistic Society said that some children with autism were better off in specialist settings. However, Scope, a major national charity for people with cerebral policy, said it supported the campaign and started discussions to consider alternatives for its special school pupils.

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An education pack produced by the Down's Syndrome Association has won a national award. The pack was named winner of the Books for Learning and Teaching award at the NASEN national conference. The 'Education Support Pack for Mainstream Schools' provides practical advice for teachers in schools which include pupils with Down's syndrome. Copies are available from the DSA (£15 inc. p&p) or can be downloaded from the DSA's web site.
Child Education, January 1, 2004

A northern school which provides a lifeline for deaf and disabled children is being threatened with closure because of Government policy. Northern Counties School in Newcastle says it will close in 18 months because the Government wants disabled children placed in mainstream schools. The Jesmond School, more than 150 years old, has a national reputation for teaching children with hearing and other disabilities. But pupil numbers are falling as more children go to mainstream schools and staff say the school will no longer be viable if the decline continues. A decision on its future will be made in two months, giving families 18 months to find alternative facilities for their children.
The Journal, Newcastle on Tyne, January 7, 2004

Education bosses today said there was no threat to Sunderland's special needs schools because of Government policy on inclusion. The Government wants disabled youngsters to enter mainstream education where possible. The nationally renowned Northern Counties School in Newcastle this week announced it could close in 18 months as more children enter mainstream. But Sunderland Local Education Authority said none of its special schools are in danger. Special educational needs manager, Pat Glass, said: 'Sunderland LEA supports the present Government's educational policy, which is not about closing special schools. It is about including children wherever possible within local mainstream schools and enhancing and strengthening the role of special schools to support those children attending mainstream, their teachers and their schools. There is no threat to special schools in Sunderland which are excellent. But their role is changing and while some children will continue to require full-time attendance at a special school, many more will in future be able to attend their local mainstream school for some or all of the time, if this is what their parents want'. She said families at Northern Counties School would be invited to meet the LEA to discuss their children's future.
Sunderland Echo, January 9, 2004

A mother has hit out against proposals to close a school for children with learning difficulties because of the effect it would have on the pupils. The Leas School in Clacton caters for about 100 students but its future is in doubt because it could be merged with the near-by Windsor School. Under current proposals the school could close in August next year and consultations between the school's governing body and parents and Essex County Council are on-going. Essex Local Education Authority said the building would be kept open for primary school children. Parents with children at the Leas would be given the option of going to nearby Windsor School or opting for mainstream education at the town's new secondary school, Bishop's Park College. Windsor School would change its status from being a school for children with severe learning difficulties to what is being termed a 'new model' school. County officials say the change would improve services offered by both Leas and Windsor Schools. But the Leas Parents Action Group has been launched and is campaigning to keep the school open. Ann Conroy, who has two children with learning difficulties, said they would not be provided with the social training in mainstream which is provided by the special school.
East Anglian Daily Times (Essex edition), January 21, 2004

The Labour Group at County Hall in Chelmsford has said it's 'appalled' at the closure plans for Leas School and has 'called-in' the decision, meaning it will have to be scrutinized by the council's audit and scrutiny committee before it can proceed. However, Iris Pummel, the cabinet member for education at Essex County Council, said the move was backed by Leas' headteacher. She said the school would effectively be moved to the site of the new Bishop's Park building with access to mainstream education. Bishop's Park would have a central core and corridors off it. Units of the Leas School would go on the end of each part. If they were able the children would, on occasion, be able to join the mainstream lessons. She said it was important that children who were not suitable for mainstream education were not forced into it.
East Anglian Daily Times (Essex edition), January 22, 2004

The Government's latest plans for special needs education will perpetuate prejudice and discrimination against disabled people according to the Centre for Studies on Inclusive Education (CSIE), an independent education charity. The national Centre says that plans to retain separate special schools indefinitely for some pupils works against the long-term interests of disabled people. The Government's plans are contained in its new strategy document 'Removing Barriers to Achievement' launched by the Department for Education and Skills. 'Segregated schooling does not lead to inclusion. It perpetuates discrimination, devaluation, stigmatization, stereotyping, prejudice and isolation', said a CSIE spokesman.' Disabled adults identify these conditions as the biggest barriers to respect, participation and a rewarding life in mainstream society'. A DfES spokesman said it was committed to developing more inclusive education and where parents wanted a mainstream setting for their child, schools and LEAs must try and provide it. However, where more specialist provision was sought it was important that parents' wishes were listened and taken into account.
Yorkshire Evening Post (Leeds edition), January 22, 2004

High expectations, attention to teacher training and after-school homework classes are behind the success of one of the country's top-performing special schools. Laleham School near Margate, Kent, which caters for pupils with severe dyslexia and other speech and language difficulties, has pulled off a rare double, coming in the top 25 for value-added at key stages and GCSEs. Its performance at KS3 gave it the highest value-added of any school with 30 or more pupils sitting tests. All 31Laleham pupils were exempted from KS3 English tests because of their difficulties, so the scores are based on maths and science alone.
Times Educational Supplement. January 23, 2004

Reform of league tables will be part of a drive to boost achievements of children with special needs, Charles Clarke will announce next month. The Education Secretary fears league tables are hampering inclusion by discouraging schools from taking pupil with special needs and that they are seen as peripheral in too many schools. He hopes that focusing on such pupils can boost national literacy and numeracy scores and GCSE results. A consultation later this year will suggest that value-added tables should be changed to reflect the progress of pupils even if they fail to reach the expected test levels. Tables for school-leavers may also be expanded to include lower-level qualifications in an effort to recognise the achievement of pupils with special needs. The strategy is the most determined attempt yet by the Government to make special needs part of mainstream. It follows criticism of the Government's approach by the Audit Commission, the public spending watchdog. Currently, only one in seven pupils with special needs and one in 20 with statements gets five Cs or better at GCSE.
Times Educational Supplement, January 23, 2004

An East Lancashire headteacher today rejected claims that special needs schools were bad for disabled children and said: 'We are not separatist'. Bob Whittaker, head of Northcliffe school in Great Harwood, spoke out after a leading charity said Government plans to back specialist institutions would lead to discrimination. The Centre for Studies on Inclusive Education has warned that keeping special needs schools under the Government's new strategy will increase prejudice. But the headteacher criticized the findings of the independent education charity and said he wanted to save specialist schools in East Lancashire. He believes special schools already enjoy healthy levels of integration with mainstream schools but argues that special schools are still needed to help pupils with difficulties.
Lancashire Evening Telegraph (Blackburn), January 26, 2004

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Government plans for special needs education have been blasted by a charity devoted to inclusive schooling. The way special needs children are taught in Welsh schools is undergoing a major review, but Westminster plans have been denounced for perpetuating 'prejudice and discrimination'. The Centre for Studies on Inclusive Education says proposals to retain separate schools for these pupils will work against the long-term interests of disabled people. The Welsh Assembly's Education and Life Long Learning Committee is due to review certain aspects of special educational needs such as early identification and intervention, transition between primary and secondary school and Welsh-medium provision. Study groups have been set up to review different aspects of how special needs is delivered in Wales. Three development officers have been appointed to advance the quality of special needs provision. Among the tasks is to ensure proper provision for youngsters with sensory impairment, the needs of autistic children and those with special health needs are also being investigated.
Western Mail (Cardiff), February 5, 2004.

Three Cambridge colleges have knocked on the head the image of their university being full of stuck-up rich kids -- by taking all their students from a state education background. The colleges' success in recruiting 100 per cent. of their students from the state sector for the first time contrasts sharply with claims of 'elitism' which were triggered last year after another Cambridge college rejected three of the country's top performing state-school pupils. Janet Graham, the university's admissions officer, said young people were put off Cambridge because of fear they were not good enough and 'fear of the university environment -- that Cambridge is not for them, full of stuck-up, rich kids and intelligent professors not in the real world and lots of awe-inspiring old buildings. It's not really like that and this message needs to be pushed harder.'
Independent on Sunday, February 8, 2004.

Frank Barnes School, in North London, is one of the few schools in the UK to offer bilingual teaching: with British sign language the first language and English the second. According to Karen Simpson, head teacher, sign bilingualism offers deaf children a chance of real academic achievement. 'If you give a child sign language as a first language from birth and then educated in that first language, deaf children can expect the same academic achievement as hearing children.' In her view low academic achievement in deaf children boils down to the delay in their acquisition of language. Sign from the start, she says, and deaf children go through the same language acquisition stages as hearing children, even baby babbling in sign. Teach in sign and there will be no impaired academic performance.
Sunday Times, February 8, 2004.

The Government will underline a continuing role for special schools in educating children with special educational needs tomorrow, but as part of a more mainstream programme involving all schools working together. The education secretary, Charles Clarke, will announce the strategy for special educational needs, setting out the most sweeping changes to the sector for decades. In an interview with Education Guardian, Mr. Clarke admits that the previous policy is ripe for improvement and that partnership is key to success.
The Guardian, February 10, 2004.

A teacher stopped a special needs boy from chatting in class by taping his mouth shut. Eleven-year-old Ben Deacy's shocked Mum found out when he got home with his daily report. The teacher had written: 'Excellent work - once I taped his mouth up!' Ben is part of a small group in a special needs class at Llanrumney High School in Cardiff. The school's head teacher, Don Barnfield, said that an inexperience member of teaching staff had made a grave error and he would need to take appropriate action. He added: 'It's an extremely demanding job with pupils who often have behavioural and learning difficulties. The teacher is hard working but not terribly experienced. The tape was not put the long way over his mouth. It was a small piece going from the top to the bottom lip and wasn't blocking his breathing. It was not malicious and there was no attempt to harm him'. A Cardiff Council spokeswoman said:' Appropriate processes are in place and relevant actions are being considered. Investigations will be carried out.'
Daily Star, February 11, 2004.

A strategy to raise the achievement of special needs pupils was launched this week amid complaints by a charity which offers advice to parents. The Independent Panel for Special Education Advice said the strategy 'Removing Barriers to Achievement' did nothing to address the 'common-place, chronic, deliberate law-breaking on the part of local authorities. IPSEA has written to the Education Secretary, Charles Clarke, to complain about five local education authorities -- Essex, East Sussex and the London Boroughs of Barnet, Hackney, and Islington, which it claims have acted unreasonably and failed to fulfill their duty to special needs children. All five deny the charge. John Wright, IPSEA spokesman, said that the Government's plan failed to recognise the need for an independent agency to enforce the law.
Times Educational Supplement, February 13, 2004.

Education Bradford was under fire today after a report into special needs said discontent with the service was 'heartfelt, deep-rooted and longstanding'. It said some teachers regarded the state of the service as 'a mess' and highlighted problems including a lack of educational psychologists and problems with the bidding process for funding. Education expert David Tweddle, the report's author, talked to head teachers and special needs co-ordinators about the service. He said Education Bradford, the private company which runs education services in the district, had to show it was prepared to turn it around. He said in the report: 'There was a clear feeling among many head teachers that special educational needs has never been a priority for Education Bradford, that it should be prioritized and that Education Bradford needs to demonstrate it has the capacity and the will to sort it out'.
Telegraph and Argus (Bradford), February 14, 2004.

The battle for special schools in Gloucestershire looks lost. Campaigners have been fighting to save Alderman Knight, Battledown and Belmont for children with moderate learning difficulties. But a county council document, leaked exclusively to the Echo, reveals that the Battledown Children's Centre in Cheltenham is likely to close. Alderman Knight in Tewkesbury and Cheltenham's Belmont may be saved -- but only for children with severe learning disabilities. Those with moderate learning difficulties are set to be integrated into mainstream schools.
Gloucestershire Echo, February 17, 2004.

Three more Dumbarton primary schools have been targeted for closure, The Lennox can reveal. Dalreoch, Braehead, and Aitkenpar primaries look set to be axed under West Dunbartonshire Council's regeneration plan. And all the pupils are to be transferred to a new 'super school' within the grounds of Dumbarton Academy. Raging mum Gillian Bolton -- whose son is autistic and has special needs -- blasted: 'It has taken two years of intensive therapy at nursery to prepare my son for mainstream school and it looks as though that has been a waste of time. I chose Dalreoch Primary because of its small class sizes. There is no way my son could go to one of these super schools. He just would not cope with the large number of pupils.'
The Lennox, February 27, 2004.

Newham has been named as one of 14 successful local education authorities that will get a share of a £2.2 billion Government initiative to rebuild or refurbish secondary schools in two years. Newham submitted a bid under the first wave of the Building Schools for the Future initiative for the £160 million to fund a programme of school building development. Newham stands to receive funding for new buildings that are equipped to deliver for the twenty-first century, with state-of-the-art information technology facilities and are fully accessible to support the borough's inclusive education policy.
Newham Magazine, February 28, 2004.

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Education technology is making learning easier and more enjoyable for children with special needs. Now that the law insists that mainstream schools embrace children with special needs, increasing numbers of teachers are looking to exhibitions such as the Special Needs Fringe at last January's Bett Show for inspiration and ideas. One specialist device that stood out at the show was the Sensory Corner, a small-scale, multi-sensory room with various stimuli and cause-and-effect activities. This is often used with learners with apparently limited responses but can also work well for the hyperactive or disturbed child who needs to calm down. Children with a visual impairment can be isolated in the mainstream classroom if they have to sit in a corner with a brailler, CCTV and all the panoply of technology. Telesensory has brought out The Pico and the Olympia portable magnifiers. These can be taken from class to class so the user does not need to sit in a separate area. Among several speech devices on show, Scan4 from Traxsys is a simple communication device that can be programmed with messages and may prove popular with technology-shy teachers because it is so simple.
The Guardian (Education) March 9, 2004.

A father is to sue a comprehensive school for failing to provide his children with proper maths lessons. Richard Sanki, 55, is seeking to recover the £1,500 he spent on home study courses for daughters Gina, 15, and Rachel,14, who are pupils at the Portway Community School in Shirehampton, Bristol. He claims that the girls, both high achievers at maths, were neglected by teachers who spent more time on less able students. Lawyers say it is the first time a British school has ever been sued for failing in a particular subject. Widower, Richard, said: 'The school had to achieve its performance targets and needed to bring the lower kids up to standard. The education system has let down my daughters in one of the core subjects, maths. Maths is a subject that needs teaching and both my daughters need good grades to pursue the careers they want. I have had to delve into my own pocket because the school has failed them, so I feel it should re-imburse me for paying to remedy its shortcomings.'
Daily Express, March 9, 2004.

A disabled teenager has won a High Court legal battle against his local council to continue his education. The boy, who can not be named for legal reasons, is living with his mother in Holland after she was forced to flee the UK to escape her violent ex-partner. Stockton Borough Council maintained that as she can provide him with suitable accommodation in Holland, it has no duty to house him. The 15-year-old is desperate to take GCSEs in the UK, and says educational facilities in Holland are not as good for disabled children. Yesterday the Council finally ceded to his lawyers' demands, agreeing to pay for him to live at a specialized lodge until he has taken his exams in the summer.
Northern Echo (Darlington/South Durham), March 18, 2004.

More than 1,600 school-age pupils with Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are currently being educated in Northern Ireland -- most are in mainstream settings. Parents have argued that the education system has not brought the 'full spectrum of human difference' into mainstream and children with ASD are therefore unrepresented. The Department of Education's Task Group on Autism was established in November 2000 to make recommendations on education provision for children with autism. The group noted that educational provision for young people with ASD had entered a period of 'rapid improvement in many areas of Northern Ireland'. But there was 'still much progress to be made before it will be possible to say that all children with ASD are being identified and that their needs are being met'. Minister with responsibility for education, Jane Kennedy, said that she aimed to make all schools autism-friendly, reflecting the need for opportunities for children with ASD to interact and develop their social skills alongside their peers. Ms. Kennedy said ensuring that the right mechanisms were in place to enable the education boards to meet the special educational needs of autistic children was a key priority.
Irish News (Belfast), March 29, 2004.

An English teacher, Susan Elkin, has challenged the 'special arrangements' for some students sitting examinations. In a newspaper article headed, 'Why Must All Have Prizes?', she said that Edexcel, one of three main examining boards, recorded 18,918 candidates in 2002 whose physical or learning requirements meant they needed access to a computer or special arrangements in order to complete examinations. Of these about 9,000 were also given extra time. According to Ms. Elkin: 'Special consideration has always -- rightly -- been available for genuinely disabled students such as blind examinees who need Brailled question papers and a Braille machine to answer on. But if two people take an exam and one can for some reason read or write better or faster than the other, then of course the stronger candidate should get higher marks. Anything which blurs that distinction makes a travesty of the whole system, however sorry one might feel for all the weaker candidates'.
Daily Mail, March 30, 2004.

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The head of Scotland's deaf school has revealed that pupils are losing out because teachers can not communicate fluently in sign language. Janet Allan, principal of Donaldsons College in Edinburgh, claims the problem is so bad it is like a pupil being taught by someone who can not speak English. In an education report to the General Assembly, she compares the situation for deaf children in mainstream schools to one where hearing children are taught by teachers with a low level of Standard Grade English. A Scottish Executive spokeswoman said: 'Ministers recognise that mainstream schools may not be suitable for all pupils with special educational needs. We expect education authorities to take decisions to ensure pupils are properly supported.'
Edinburgh Evening News, April 5, 2004.

Teacher Susan Elkin's criticisms of 'special arrangements' in examinations for pupils experiencing difficulties have been described as discriminatory [see News Digest for March]. Writing about her son, who has dyslexia, Alison Holman, of Surrey, explains: 'As someone with normal intelligence but specific difficulties, why shouldn't he have the same opportunities as others? In his exams my son was allowed extra time and access to technology to allow him parity with his peers, not to give him an unfair advantage over them.' Another parent, one of several challenging Ms Elkin's views, said of her son, who has autism: 'Without the "special arrangements" which Ms Elkin holds in such contempt, Daniel would find it almost impossible to cope with tests at school. Is it fair that he should not be able to participate in exams because he has a hidden disability.'
Daily Mail, April 6, 2004.

Prominent Russian education leaders are visiting Bolton to learn about how to teach disabled children within mainstream education. Three education directors and a translator have travelled from Moscow for a study tour around the North West which will involve them visiting Bolton Institute. At the Institute they will be given presentations to help them learn how to make their education services more open to people with disabilities. Lecturer Joe Whittaker said that in Russia the concept of inclusive education was only just beginning to take hold.
Bolton Evening News, April 17, 2004.

There is a 'disaster waiting to happen' in school classrooms because of teachers being expected to administer medication to special needs children, the UK Government was warned today by the head of a leading teaching Union. Sally McKee, president of the Ulster Teachers Union, called on the British Government to urgently examine its policy of allowing special needs children to be placed in mainstream schools without providing teachers with adequate support and training. In her keynote address to the UTU annual conference in Newcastle, County Down, she said the growth in the numbers of pupils with special needs in mainstream classrooms was to be welcomed, provided the education and care of pupils was safeguarded and enhanced.
Online.ie.News, April 16, 2004.

The education of all children is being harmed by the Government's 'disastrous' policy of closing special schools and sending pupils with learning difficulties and unruly behaviour into mainstream classes, teachers said yesterday. The second biggest teachers' union called for an end to the closure of special schools saying the 'one size fits all' model of inclusion did not serve the needs of some of the most vulnerable children and disrupted the education of others. The National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers overwhelmingly agreed at its annual conference in Llandudno, North Wales, to oppose the inclusion of children with needs that could not be met in large classrooms, particularly those with challenging behaviour. According to one delegate, Mavis Garnett, from Kirklees, however admirable in principle the reality of inclusion was unworkable. She said: 'The special needs assistant who signs for the hearing impaired pupil gets in the way of the large screen computer provided for the visually impaired while trying to avoid the open route required by the physically disabled while not obstructing the language specialist. How can we even think of placing a physically vulnerable child in the same room as physically aggressive and emotionally unpredictable peer? How dare we be surprised when fear or even physical injury results?'
Daily Telegraph, April 17, 2004.

The special needs of children at a school threatened with closure will be the main priority for educational officials in Cheshire. The county council has pledged that the individual requirements of every Kingsway pupil with special educational needs would be fully assessed and met should the school close in 2006. Director of Education and Community, David Cracknell, provided the reassurance in response to a direct request from Lynn Hardwick, the executive member for social services. After a one-hour debate the council's executive supported the recommendation of the School Planning Panel to proceed to consultation on closure.
Daily Post (Liverpool), April 21, 2004.

Staff at a Dudley school have been ordered to learn about attention deficit hyperactivity disorder after a tribunal ruled that an excluded pupil was unlawfully discriminated against. Lee Grosvenor, 14, was excluded from Wordsley School a year ago for three days after he swore at a teacher and left the lesson before the bell went. His parents Mark and Kim Grosvenor said it was unfair because their son was disabled. They were backed last month by a special educational needs and disability tribunal which concluded the exclusion amounted to unlawful discrimination. A Dudley Council spokeswoman said the council would work with the school to ensure that the training ordered by the tribunal was completed by the end of July.
Times Educational Supplement, April 23, 2004.

Efforts to improve inclusion in early years were backed by an education minister yesterday. Catherine Ashton, who is Minister for Extended and Inclusive Schools, backed reports from Disability Equality in Education and the Centre For Studies on Inclusive Education. In a joint statement, the two organizations said: 'By promoting inclusion in the early years and childcare settings we are ensuring that disabled and non-disabled children can work and play together without discrimination. These two initiatives will also help foster good race relations at the earliest stage in all settings and schools with lasting benefits throughout education and the wider community.'
The Journal, Newcastle on Tyne, April 27, 2004.

Sophie Needham, who had a series 14 temporary teaching assistants in mainstream after her two full-time assistants left, has won a case at the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal. The Tribunal ruled that Sophie, who has cerebral palsy, had been discriminated against by her school which failed to provide continuity in the recruitment of support staff. Since September 2002, schools have had to ensure that all pupils with disabilities are treated no less favourably than others and are not disadvantaged in any aspect of school life, from teaching and learning to access to afternoon clubs or the lunch queue. Cases taken out by the Disability Rights Commission are aiming to ensure not only that individual disabled pupils have a decent education but that schools, colleges and universities have to gear up to a sea change. By 2006 they will be obliged to promote equal opportunities and anticipate the needs of the disabled rather than adapt to them on a case by case basis.
The Independent (Education), April 29, 2004.

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Campaigners opposed to the exclusion of pupils for anti-social behaviour in and out of school are attempting to form a 'mass movement' to fight the policy. A number of organizations already exist to oppose exclusions from mainstream schools, which disproportionately affects Afro-Caribbean pupils. These groups include the Communities Empowerment Network, Parents for Inclusion and the Alliance for Inclusive Education. Teachers Union NASUWT has called for special schools for pupils with behavioural problems and learning difficulties to be expanded. Parents for Inclusion responded by calling for the closing of all specialist schools and for funds to be diverted to mainstream. Now the lottery funded Communities Empowerment Network is calling a meeting to co-ordinate opposition to exclusion. Director, Gerry German, said: 'We hope to form an organisation called Parents and Students Empowerment, which we want to be a mass movement.'
Third Sector, May 5, 2004.

They have long been regarded as man's best friend -- and as every owner will tell you a dog's abilities must never be underestimated. Indeed at Canine Partners, a British charity which provides dogs to act as carers for the disabled, the animals can perform a truly astonishing range of tasks. The dogs are taught hundreds of commands to enable them to do everything from dressing and undressing their partners to emptying the washing machine, withdrawing money from cash machines and doing the shopping. In preparation for the canine partnership each dog has to undergo two years of intense and expensive training. Puppies are chosen at seven weeks old and it costs £9,500 to complete the course. There are currently 70 canine partnerships in UK but there is a need for hundreds more. Director, Denise Gabriel said: 'I can't begin to explain what a difference these animals make. They really do change lives and it is frustrating because there are so many people out there who need them. We are desperate to train more dogs, but we can't do it until we have the space and the funds to do so'.
Mail on Sunday, May 9, 2004.

Worried parents of children with special needs say the serious consequences of placing them in mainstream Dudley schools are being ignored. The Dudley Special Schools Protection League is still waiting for the LEA to publish its Inclusion Strategy detailing the future of education in the borough. Parents fear the report which will be published at the end of June will reveal that special schools across the borough are to close. Leon Evans, whose son Simeon is autistic, says parents of children who do not have learning difficulties don't seem to realize the impact that closing special schools and putting special needs children into mainstream will have. Leon said: 'We don't believe putting children into mainstream will be beneficial to either sets of children'. But Sharon Menghini, assistant director of education, access and inclusion, said the LEA thinks inclusion is the right thing to do. 'The Council thinks it is wrong to segregate children and supports inclusion. Working and learning together helps children prepare for adult society where we have to live and work alongside people of all abilities.'
Dudley Chronicle, May 13, 2004.

An Exeter school has won a £38,000 cash boost to create the region's first nursery for both visually-impaired and normal-sighted children. The award to the West of England School for Children With Little or No Sight was announced this week by Catherine Ashton, Minister for Inclusive and Extended Schools. The money will go towards setting up a nursery for up to 30 youngsters aged five and under on the school's Topsham Road site by September, 2005. West of England School principal Paul Holland was delighted to receive the cash. He said: 'It would be a way of opening up our excellent facilities, including our swimming pool, to younger children. Currently there is so much emphasis on including children with special needs in mainstream schools. Here we are doing the reverse by allowing normal-sighted children to develop alongside visually-impaired children. It will be the first of its kind in the region'.
Express and Echo, Exeter, May 18, 2004.

Too much pressure is put on parents of disabled children to force them into mainstream education, Witney MP David Cameron has warned. The Tory MP, who said he has felt the strain personally with his two-year-old disabled son Ivan, was set to raise his concerns in Parliament today. He is urging the Government to throw its full support behind special schools and apply common sense instead of 'political correctness'. He said: 'We are in the process of finding a school and I have been quite struck that the pressure put on us to try and come up with a mainstream option has been huge. Speaking ahead of the debate, Mr. Cameron said that it was vital for parents to be given a full and free range of choice. He said: 'I want to impress on the minister that a one-size-fits-all policy will not work in this area. While it is right for many disabled children to be educated alongside their peers, it is not the answer in all cases'.
Oxford Mail, May 19, 2004.

The education system in cities like Birmingham is failing children with Down's Syndrome, according to new research published today. A report by the Down's Syndrome Association claims victims suffer discrimination and ignorance during their school life and points to alleged failings of local education authorities and schools to make appropriate provisions. The result of the survey conducted in March of nearly 1,400 parents of Down's children found 32 per cent. have experienced discrimination or prejudice from education professionals while 51 per cent. reported a lack of specialist knowledge and skills.
Birmingham Evening Mail, May 27, 2004.

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Liam Thompson has missed almost a year of school after Liverpool education officials refused to give him a mainstream place. Liam, 8, has Down's Syndrome but his mother Kathleen, says she would rather face prosecution than see him in a special school. Liam attended a primary school in Arnfield for three years before education officers decided he could not continue going there. He has been offered placed in two special schools but his mother insists they are not right for him. A council spokesman said: 'We have a place for this child which a special educational needs tribunal instructed him to attend. The Council policy is to support inclusion but there are a small number of children for whom a mainstream education is not appropriate.' Yesterday the Echo revealed that four special schools -- Ashfield, Watergate, Meadowbank and Merseyview -- face the axe by 2010 under proposals by education chiefs.
Liverpool Echo, June 1, 2004.

All too often inclusion can translate into prejudice and exclusion for schoolchildren with Down's Syndrome, according to their parents. A survey of nearly 1,400 parents suggested that the government policy of inclusion in mainstream schools is failing. Parents say that teachers lack the skills and schools the resources to care for their children. They also accuse local education authorities of manipulating the statement of special educational needs process to save funds -- forcing parents to tribunal. Increasingly though there is no alternative, with some LEAs citing inclusion policies as justification for closing special schools, the Down Syndrome Association says. See www.downs-syndrome.org.uk
The Times (Public Agenda), June 1, 2004.

The axe has effectively fallen on provision for children with moderate learning difficulties at Alderman Knight School. Gloucestershire County Council has just begun a second consultation period asking how the special school should be run in future. But when the letters from the council's cabinet landed on campaigners' doorstep they were shocked to discover only one option is being put forward. It only includes provision for children with severe learning difficulties, meaning those with less serious problems would have to go to mainstream. The council was expected to include a second option which would have involved co-operation between Alderman Knight and Tewkesbury School with some form of outreach support. The Alderman Knight Action Group wants the school to continue educating children with moderate learning difficulties and say they are prepared to fight the council all the way to the High Court.
Gloucestershire Echo, June 11, 2004.

The parents of a severely dyslexic boy from Farnham who appeared in court because of their son's truancy have hit out flaws in the education system. The father and mother, who can not be named for legal reasons, claimed that there son only missed school because he was too stressed to attend because he was struggling with learning difficulties. They admitted charges at Alton Magistrates Court that the 15-year-old boy was not going to school and that they did not take reasonable steps to ensure his attendance. Hampshire Education Authority claimed that between December 2003 and March 2004 the boy missed 41 school days. But during the court case the boy's mother told magistrates how the education system had failed her son. The magistrates decided neither a fine or imprisonment was appropriate and gave the parents an absolute discharge.
Fleet News (Newspaper), June 11, 2004.

Campaigners will today call for more children with muscle wasting conditions to be given the chance of going to mainstream school. The Muscular Dystrophy Campaign will launch guidelines in Leeds today designed to help mainstream schools cope with the needs of children with a range of neuromuscular conditions. The charity is worried that even those children who successfully begin mainstream education sometimes have to leave because the school can not cope with their changing needs. A Muscular Dystrophy Campaign family care officer in Leeds, Sue Manning, worked with a range of specialists and parents to draw up the guidelines. She said while there was a general move to give more children a mainstream education, there was still a patchy response between different schools and local education authorities.
Yorkshire Post (West/Leeds), June 18, 2004.

A multi-million pound education village based on the extended schools model is set to be the centrepiece of Darlington's drive to integrate service provision, starting with the assimilation of disabled children within mainstream schooling. The village, which is due to open in September 2005 and teach 1,400 children aged three to 19, will include a primary school and a comprehensive school alongside the relocated Beaumont Hill Technology College, a school for children with special needs. Classrooms in both primary and secondary schools will be adapted so that Beaumont Hill children can, as far as possible, be accommodated within a mainstream environment. The special school will also have facilities for pupils for whom inclusion is not appropriate, those with emotional and behavioural difficulties or higher spectrum autism. Each of the three schools will have a home base but most of the facilities will be co-used by all pupils. Special attention will be paid to curriculum planning to ensure an inclusive approach and easier transition between the various key stages. Underlining its status as a futuristic template for service integration, the village will also have an early years centre providing wrap-around childcare, crèche facilities and opportunities for lifelong learning.
Nursery World, June 17, 2004.

A row has broken out over a shake-up of school transport for hundreds of special needs children. Pupils with additional and special needs across Gateshead will no longer automatically be provided with transport to school after the council announced a policy review. Parents and carers are now waiting for their individual cases to be reviewed to find out whether they will get help with transport. Maggie Atkinson, director of education at Gateshead Council, said the council currently provided support to 630 children and every child in the borough could apply for assistance.
Evening Chronicle (Newcastle/City), June 26, 2004.

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Heidi Crowther, nine, is proving a shining example to all at Mount Nod Primary School, Coventry. Heidi has Down's Syndrome but unlike many children with her condition she goes to mainstream school. Recent figures released by the Down's Association highlight how Heidi was at risk of becoming another statistic, with a third of parents claiming they have experienced discrimination from education staff and 51 per cent reporting a lack of specialist knowledge. But despite these possible pitfalls Heidi is a success and her school life goes from strength to strength. Mum, Liz, 37, and Dad, Steve, 35, who run their own car sourcing business, faced a difficult decision when their daughter got to school age. It was either send her to an ordinary school or one which catered for pupils with special needs. After investigating they chose Mount Nod. Liz said: 'From the head teacher downwards the school has always been positive about having her here. We wanted her to be educated in the mainstream but it's been a question of reviewing the situation each term and seeing what is right for her. Other parents are glad Heidi is here and hopefully in 20 years time they won't be staring a people with Down's Syndrome in the street like some adults do now.'
Coventry Evening Telegraph, July 1, 2004.

Four new schools costing £24m will give Dudley special needs kids a better education. Each of the state-of-the-art centres, costing £6m, will have a new language and communication unit which will cater for youngsters with complex needs. The Brier at Brierley Hill is already open for business and council chiefs aim to have the remaining three sites at Coseley, Hillcrest and The Grange up and running by 2010. Director of Education and Lifelong Learning, John Freeman, said: 'The vision is to provide high quality education for as many children as possible alongside their peers in their local community. We aim to do this through flexible access to a continuum of provision that meets a diversity of need. The plans will cut the boroughs' special schools from seven to six. Halesbury and Old Park Special Schools will remain open but will be subject to modernisation and made more accessible. The new centres will provide training and development facilities for teachers from across the borough.
Dudley News and County Express, July 1, 2004.

A 12-year-old girl who has battled against all odds to go to mainstream school is looking forward to her first day at Ryburn Valley High. Only a handful of young people like her in England attend mainstream schools. Nadia Clarke, of Savile Park Gardens, Halifax, is deaf and cannot speak but manages to communicate through sign language and an electronic keypad. Her family moved to Calderdale from Northumberland to find a school that would accept her and she spent six happy years at nearby Savile Park Primary School. But come September she must move on. All her friends are going to Sowerby Bridge High School but Nadia can't because she uses an electronic wheelchair and access would be too difficult. So she is following her brother, Sean, to Ryburn Valley High School, Sowerby, where she will eventually be joined by her other four brothers and sisters. Mrs. Clarke said her positive experience at primary school had prepared her well for the next step. 'She is very confident and outgoing and has high self-esteem and they will be the foundation and building blocks for high school.'
Evening Courier (Halifax), July 28, 2004.

A Jewish father has spoken of his heartache after his disabled daughter was denied funding to send her to a special needs school for orthodox children. A special educational needs and disability tribunal last week upheld a decision by Barnet Council not to pay for eight-year-old Sabrina Leigh to attend the £18,000-a-year Kisharon School in Golders Green. The tribunal ruled that the non-denominational Northway school in Mill Hill, the Council's preferred choice, is adequate for Sabrina who suffers from Worster-Drought Syndrome, a mild form of cerebral palsy. Sabrina's father, Kenneth, said: 'The council has shown no respect for either our faith or Sabrina's needs, and it has caused us a lot of heartache - we are at breaking point. She will be totally lost if she has to go to Northway. She will not be able to catch up when she has to take time off for festivals and Shabbat. She will feel excluded when she cannot eat from the non-kosher canteen. It is totally wrong.' The tribunal accepted the conclusion of educational psychologist, Dr. Alan Fuller, speaking for the council, who said it was not necessary for Sabrina to be educated in a religious school. The tribunal also accepted evidence from Northway that it could accommodate the requirements of the Jewish calendar and diet.
Potters Bar and Cuffley Press, July 2004.

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Disabled children could be removed from mainstream schools and educated in segregated establishments for children with special needs under a Tory government. The Conservatives have started a review of 'inclusive' education, which encourages the teaching of disabled pupils alongside their able-bodied peers in a move that will prove controversial among disability groups which have campaigned for years for the right to access mainstream schools. The review, announced by Paul Goodman, the party's spokesman on disability, will examine whether disabled pupils would receive more attention in schools for children with physical and learning disabilities. A Conservative consultation document published this week asked: 'Is the Government's policy of inclusive education for disabled children working or are disabled children being physically included but educationally excluded?'
The Independent, August 6, 2004.

The Tories are calling for disabled children to be educated in separate schools. They say it's because schools aren't always accessible and because disabled kids are often bullied. But a policy of keeping disabled children away from other kids is exactly the wrong way to protect them. The kind of segregation is reminiscent of the old days when disabled people were shunted off to institutions. Nor is there any excuse for schools not being accessible to disabled children. The Disability Discrimination Act brought in by this Government means they will have to have made reasonable adjustments to their buildings by 2005. That way it can be up to families to decide what's best for their child.
Daily Mirror, August 7, 2004.

Campaigners battling to save a Dorset special school could be thrown a lifeline. Penwithen School near Dorchester is facing closure from September next year after members of Dorset County Council's education overview and policy development committee agreed to recommend the move to the council's cabinet. The proposal has been put forward as part of the council's policy which aims to educate children as near to home as possible. The plan also meets the Government's policy on inclusive education which integrates children with disabilities and learning difficulties into mainstream schools. If the proposal is backed by the council's cabinet next month it means in the future children with emotional and behavioural difficulties who would at the moment attend Penwithen School would be integrated into mainstream schools where possible. But now Conservatives say they may reverse the policy, saying they want to ensure disabled children are not suffering educationally.
Dorset Echo, August 9, 2004.

Disability groups have reacted with dismay to a Conservative party announcement that it will undertake a review of inclusive education. The move follows complaints by some parents who say their disabled children are struggling in mainstream schools. The review will consider whether pupils with disabilities would receive more attention in specialist schools. The findings could lead to children with disabilities being removed from mainstream schools if the Conservatives came to power next year. Disability groups were quick to condemn the possibility of a return to segregated schooling, arguing that what parents want is choice.
Care and Health, August 17, 2004.

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Schoolchildren with epilepsy could be given extra support in the classroom thanks to a team of specialist teachers. The highly trained staff would help boost the confidence of youngsters with this condition. And they would aim to remove the stigma surrounding epilepsy by educating other pupils about the illness. The proposals are outlined in a motion drawn up by the Linwood branch of the Scottish National Party which should be debated at the party's annual conference at the end of this month.
Paisley Daily Express, September 6, 2004.

Headteachers are coming under increasing pressure to make their schools more inclusive. Ministers are currently considering revised national standards which place much greater emphasis on the role of heads in making their schools suitable for children with special needs. Personal qualities include being committed to 'inclusion and the ability and right of all to be the best they can be', say the proposed new standards expected to be published soon. The National College for School Leadership is bringing in a new SEN module to its headteacher induction programme to develop heads' skills and knowledge in these areas.
Times Educational Supplement, September 10, 2004.

A teenager with special educational needs has been told he must stay in a mainstream school, even though he barely manages to attend because of his problems. Tim Marchant's parents are at their wits end after a tribunal ruled their son who has multiple conditions, would have to stay at the Ridings High School, at Winterbourne. Tim, aged 14, suffers from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder - a form of autism, dyslexia, balance problems and other difficulties. Russell and Debra Marchant said Tim had been sent home from school so many times because of his behaviour he only spent only 11 days in class during a recent 11-week period. But South Gloucestershire Council, Tim's local education authority, and an independent tribunal, have both ruled he should stay at the Ridings.
Bristol Evening Post (Final), September 13, 2004.

British Blind Sport Athletics (BBSA) is warning that Britain's inclusive education policy is making it more difficult to train the next generation of paralympians. While special schools made it easy for organisations like BBSA to identify potential athletes, educational inclusion has dispersed young disabled people into mainstream schools and made it harder to talent spot, says BBSA chairman, Tim Green. Education authorities, he says, are obstructive, quoting the Data Protection Act, when they are approached for contact details of visually impaired pupils. There are signs too that many mainstream schools fail to develop disabled pupils' sporting interests. A 2002 Sport England Survey of participation in sport revealed that 36 per cent of disabled 6 to16-year-olds had not taken part in sport frequently, compared with 20 per cent. of the under-16-year-old able-bodied population. Only one in five of disabled young people had spent more than two hours a week in physical education.
The Guardian (Society), September 24, 2004.

The Youth Justice Board's 2004 Youth Survey, published in July, revealed that 60 per cent of young people excluded from school have offended. This compares starkly with the 26 per cent of young people in mainstream education who commit a crime. Excluding a child or young person from school arguably contributes to the same disaffection that can foster offending behaviour. Exclusion is linked with poverty, low literacy levels and overall social exclusion. While children from better-off backgrounds may only skip the odd class, it is often the most disadvantaged pupils who find themselves permanently barred from school.
Community Care, September 30, 2004.

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Parents desperate to save a special education centre from closure have won a partial victory. A decision about the future of The Cheyne Centre, a full time education and therapy centre based at Chelsea and Wesminster Hospital, London, has been delayed while further research is carried out. Parents of children at the centre say their children's needs can not be met elsewhere. However, Richard Reiser, of Disability Equality in Education, said it was wholly appropriate that such a centre should be shut down in the twenty-first century. Parents should fight for guaranteed provision in mainstream schools.
Disability Now, October 1, 2004.

A re-organisation of special education in Bradford could rob deaf secondary school pupils of their only specialist sign language school. One plan to be considered for Thorn Park School for the Deaf, a British Sign Language School for nearly 100 deaf children between two and 18, is for it to move to another site and take in only primary-aged children. The secondary school pupils would transfer to a specialist unit in a mainstream secondary school. The idea appalls Yvette Gartery, whose 12-year-old son, Jordan, now attends Thorn Park after spending his primary years in a specialist unit at mainstream. She said: 'If you are taught in a class say, with 30 hearing children and six deaf, by the time the interpreter has told the children what the teacher has said, the teacher has moved on to another topic. It makes it very difficult for them to ask questions if they do not understand.'
The Independent, October 12, 2004.

Children with special educational needs are not benefiting from the Government's policy of inclusion in many schools, an Ofsted inspectors' report said yesterday. Too often they work alone on inappropriate tasks under the supervision of classroom assistants, instead of being included and engaged in lessons. In some schools they are taught separately by assistants in small groups resulting in feelings of isolation and in others they are put in the lowest ability set, which resultant damage to self-esteem. Head teachers are reluctant to take children with behavioural difficulties because of their effect on the rest of the class. The proportion ending up in pupil referral units has gone up by a quarter. As a result, the most needy tend to be concentrated in schools with spare places or in those which have built up a reputation for helping them, which leads to imbalance in the intake. The report is the first in-depth look at the inclusion of special needs pupils in mainstream schools since the policy was enshrined in the Special Educational and Educational Needs Disability Act, 2001.
Daily Telegraph, October 13, 2004.

The Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (Cabe) and the Royal Institute of British Architects have joined forces to prompt a 'great debate' on the future of school building. In a new report, 21st Century Schools: Learning Environments of the Future, they pinpoint the issues that all school builders will need to think about. Tomorrow's schools, the report says, will have to respond to demands that were never on the agenda in the past: how best to provide and use technology; how to include children with physical and emotional difficulties; how to adapt to an ever-changing curriculum, how to provide community facilities, and how to respond to environmental concerns.
The Independent (Education), October 14, 2004.

In a joint Letter to the Editor senior officers of the Special Educational Consortium, the Council for Disabled Children, Contact A family, and Mencap, say that they are concerned at suggestions that including disabled children in mainstream schools is not working. According to the four organizations: 'Just because inclusion is difficult doesn't mean it is a mistake or can't be achieved. Given the right attitude and resources, it can provide educational and social benefits for disabled and non-disabled children alike. As Monday's Ofsted report makes clear, disabled children can do well when mainstream schools adapt to their needs. The challenge for the Government, local authorities and schools is to ensure that every disabled child, wherever taught, receives the right educational support and that this support is better resourced than now.'
The Independent, October 16, 2004.

A new £4m combined primary and special school officially opened its gates in Witney, Oxfordshire, last week. The futuristic building on the Madley Park Estate is home to Springfield Special School, previously at Moorland Close, and the recently-founded Madley Brook Primary School. It's being hailed as a model of inclusive education. Students from the mainstream and the special school share facilities including school halls, IT suite, food technology room, library and staff room. There are also specialist facilities including a hydrotherapy pool, a soft play room and a sensory theatre. Each school has its own governors, head, and staff but teachers share the staff room. There are now about 100 pupils at Springfield and 160 at Madley Brook.
Oxford Mail, October 19, 2004.

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Mill Hill High School has become the first mainstream school in Barnet to admit blind students and has set up the borough's first dedicated unit to cater for them. The school, welcomed Orhan Deniz, 11; and Bilal Ansari, 12; into Year Seven. Both need special brailling equipment to read, as well as other support staff to help them through the day. They have each been allocated a learning support assistant, who helps them in class during activities which require sight, such as looking at the board, and they also have a room set apart for them. After a year of planning the school was given an £80,000 grant for some of the equipment it needed, such as a brailling machine which transfers written material into Braille documents. It also has a member of staff to convert work from teachers into Braille and an advisory local education authority officer to liaise with the council's visual impairment unit, at a cost of about £50,000.
Hendon and Finchley Times, November 4, 2004.

Mark Vaughan, founder and co-director of the Centre For Studies on Inclusive Education, says he is not surprised at the Ofsted finding that the Government's framework for inclusion has had little effect on numbers of disabled children in mainstream schools. According to Mr. Vaughan, the Government has been giving contradictory and ambiguous messages about inclusion for years. He says: 'In many areas, inclusive education has progressed in spite of, not because of, government policies, which since 1997 have called for a permanent role for special schools alongside the development of inclusion.'
Community Care, November 11, 2004.

A Leeds special school teacher whose pupils moved to mainstream says there have been many advantages. Writing for the Times Educational Supplement Letter Section, S. M. Siddall says: 'The children and staff moved together, so that we can now share our expertise with our mainstream colleagues on a daily basis. Also, we (staff and children) have stayed on the roll of the special school so there are not the concerns over league tables and the headteacher could not exclude any of my pupils even if he wanted to! Above all the pupils have benefited tremendously from being a part of a lively and successful school where they have the companionship and support of their peers. They are recognised as being 'different' but that doesn't stop them enjoying all the benefits of mainstream education. We have created flexibility that means for some of the time the pupils are in their own base but as far as possible they are in mainstream classes. Clearly if their behaviour is too demanding the base is there. Being in a mainstream school has given them opportunities and experiences that they would never have had if they had stayed in a special school and I have taught in some 'good' special schools.'
Times Educational Supplement, November 12, 2004.

A Telegraph leader article has hit out at Education Secretary, Charles Clarke's proposals for schools to share responsibility for children experiencing problems with behaviour. It says the 'proposal to dump feral children in flourishing schools reeks of the naïve egalitarianism of the 1960s'. According to the Telegraph writer, parents pay taxes so that their own children can receive education and implicit in that contract is the understanding that their education will not be sabotaged. 'The crucial point, however, is that these young hooligans have their own "special need" which is to be separated from ordinary children and educated by specialists. That is sad, but then it is sad that society needs to run prisons'.
Telegraph (Web), November 19, 2004

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Leicestershire Centre for Integrated Living (LCIL) has been successful in securing funding for a project called Count Us In, and the team is already busy working with schools in Leicester. The project has been developed by LCIL, an organisation led by disabled people in partnership with Parents for Inclusion. The aim of Count Us In is to empower parents of children with additional needs to support their child in the school of their choice. The project has been funded by Leicester City Council's education department and promotes the value of inclusive education, responding to the needs of families who share this vision. The team will be holding inclusion group meetings in a number of schools, offering support, advice and training for parents.
Leicester Mercury, December 2, 2004.

Hundreds of protesters took to the streets of Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, in their campaign to save Alderman Knight School. Children from the school held their banners high as they walked alongside parents, grandparents, teachers, governors and politicians. Their message was clear -- keep Alderman Knight a school for children with moderate learning difficulties. The 500 campaigners were keen to show their disapproval of the county council's decision to integrate students from the school into mainstream education. The procession brought traffic to a standstill, but motorists remained good tempered with many showing their support for the protest. Hundreds more watched from the streets waving and cheering them on.
Gloucestershire Echo, December 6, 2004.

The National Autistic Society is opposing a new disability rights campaign to close all special schools by 2020 and bring disabled pupils into mainstream schooling. But Scope, which -- like the National Autistic Society -- runs special schools for local authorities, is backing the 2020 campaign. It is holding a meeting this week with representatives from the 2020 campaign to discuss alternatives to special education and how special needs pupils -- whether they are disabled or have behaviour problems - could be integrated into mainstream schools. Scope chief executive, Tony Manwaring, said: 'Scope is fully committed in principle to the aims of the 2020 campaign, which aims to close all special schools and colleges in the UK. It is essential now we think through how the commitment can be managed in practice.' The NAS argues that some children with autism are better off in a specialist setting, even though many could be supported to play a full role in mainstream schools.
Third Sector, December 15, 2004.

The future looks bright for special needs schools in Brentwood and Wickford after years of uncertainty over their role in the coming years. The Government shift in the 1990s towards inclusive education for all pupils and the recent proposal to develop New Model Special Schools had sparked concerns about what the county council planned for its existing special schools. However, following the hard work of the county's special needs teachers, Essex County Council has agreed a report which puts Brentwood's Endeavour School and Wickford's Castledon School at the centre of special needs education in Essex. The two schools together with three others across the county are set to become centres of Community Learning in Partnership which will provide support to the thousands of special needs pupils in Essex whether they are in mainstream education or not.
Brentwood Gazette and Mid Essex Recorder, December 15, 2004.

Mark Vaughan, founder and co-director of the Centre for Studies on Inclusive Education is one of a swathe of educationalists contained in the Queen's New Year's Honours Day list. Mark Vaughan was awarded an OBE for services to inclusion in education.
Guardian Unlimited (web), December 31, 2004.

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