Centre for Studies on Inclusive Education

supporting inclusion, challenging exclusion

news from 2005

End-of-year review

Inclusion U-turn dismays campaigners

Baroness Mary Warnock's misgivings about the progress of inclusion was one of the most widely publicised developments in inclusive education in 2005. Baroness Warnock had a major role in promoting education of disabled pupils in mainstream schools with a radical report 25 years ago. But in a pamphlet published in June by the Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain, she claimed that the Government's inclusion policy had caused confusion of which 'children were the casualties' and called for an urgent review. Her so-called 'U-turn' was followed by demands from the Conservative Party and some parents for a halt to the closure of special schools as part of the inclusion agenda. One of the most vocal supporters on behalf of retaining special schools was the then Tory Education Spokesman, David Cameron, whose three year-old-son has cerebral palsy and epilepsy. He claimed the system of including disabled pupils in mainstream schools was not working properly, that the special needs statementing procedure had become 'a total nightmare' and that parents were denied choice.

However, supporters of inclusion were quick to express their concerns that the campaigners were expressing a 'distorted view' which undermined 25 years of effective inclusive development. Education charities, teachers, parents and disabled people pointed out that the problems referred to were the result of poor integration into mainstream without effective support. Inclusion was about changing and improving mainstream schools so that all children could flourish. Attention was also drawn to the contradictory nature of the criticisms. Discrimination and denial of human rights in mainstream schools was being tackled by further discrimination and denial of human rights by segregation into separate, special schools. As Simone Aspis, of the British Council of Disabled People, which represents 130 groups run by disabled people, pointed out, 'Nobody would suggest opening up special schools for black children or Jewish children if they experienced racism or anti-Semitism … why should it be any different for disabled children?' Disabled people's experience of separate special education included being subjected to bullying, verbal, physical and emotional abuse; and impoverished learning opportunities - the same kind of complaints made by the pro-Warnock campaigners about mainstream.

No reduction in special school places

Another contradictory factor which emerged during the debate was that statistics for special school closures in fact revealed no reduction in the number of special schools places over recent years - a trend already pointed out by Ofsted in a report on inclusion last year. Although some special schools had indeed closed others had opened. One Government official was reported as saying, 'The number of places in special schools has remained constant since 1997. What we are delivering is bigger and better special schools.'

A particular example reported in South London concerned Thurlow Park Special School where parents and governors complained that the school's closure was a cost-cutting measure carried out in the name of inclusion. They said that although inclusion was given as the reason for the closure of Thurlow Park, most of the pupils did not move to mainstream but were sent to other special schools supporting a wider range of difficulties. In Basildon, the headteacher of Cedar HallSchool, Paul Whelan, asking why pupils had to suffer in mainstream school under the Government's inclusion policy before being finally placed in a special needs school. He said that most pupils now joining his special school were around ten-years-old and had 'endured years of unhappiness' in mainstream before joining Cedar Hall.

Other items in the news during the year relating to special schools included reports of plans for closures, reprieves from closures, shelving of proposed reprieves, mergers, improvements, new models, co-locations, and even a special school becoming 'a good inclusive school' by opening its doors to pupils said to be more able but struggling in mainstream. Twelve special schools were also awarded 'specialist' status as part of the Government's vision of creating 'centres of excellence'. They were given extra money to invest in their 'specialism' and were expected to share expertise with mainstream schools. The plan was greeted with scepticism by the Disability Rights Commission which suggested that perhaps special schools were not best placed to offer advice on inclusion. In a similarly confusing fashion, the need to reduce waiting lists at four special schools, said to be caused by the growing number of youngsters needing what was called 'one-to-one education', was given as the reason for one Council's decision to secure more placements in mainstream schools. Elsewhere teachers threatened strike action 'for the sake of their pupils' who were moving from special school to mainstream and there were protests in other areas from teachers who felt 'betrayed and misled' by closure plans. A number of protests by parents were also reported.

Plethora of alternatives

Bearing in mind the experience reported at Thurlow Park, it was difficult to know to what extent pupils' human rights to inclusive education were being upheld or violated in this plethora of alternatives. However, a call at a teachers' conference for a 'new breed of special school to house problem pupils from dysfunctional families' seemed a clear step in the wrong direction, while in Sheffield the phased closure of a special school looked more hopeful. It was reported that the transfer of pupils to mainstream which began in 2002 was finally completed with a gala day including clowns, fire eaters, magicians and a bouncy castle. Staff were said to have maintained high standards at the special school during the change-over period and ensured that all new places in mainstream offered as good if not if not better support than those left behind in the segregated setting.

In the voluntary sector SCOPE, the charity for people with cerebral palsy, was criticised by Ofsted for failing to meet basic standards of care for disabled students at one of its colleges. And in the private sector, The Priory Group bought a Royal National Institute for the Blind residential school to refurbish and run as a school and further education college for pupils with autism and Aspergers. As part of the change-over the company announced it was offering opportunities for jobs to former RNIB staff at the school.

Once again, the regular survey of trends in inclusion and segregation by the Centre For Studies on Inclusive Education, CSIE, revealed widespread variations throughout the country. Children categorised as having special needs were 24 times more likely to be to be segregated for their education if they lived in parts of the North East of England than in London's East End. It was reported that representatives of both the most and least inclusive authorities in the study said consultations with families had influenced their placement policies for special needs pupils.

A new survey from Ofsted also repeated earlier findings that mainstream provision for pupils with special needs was mixed with many schools still finding it a challenge to meet pupils' needs. However, inspectors also found that most schools had a commitment to inclusion and were good at promoting it. Similar findings were reported in a survey for Community Care Magazine which found that the overwhelming majority of social workers backed inclusion. It seems that training is one of the major problems facing teachers in supporting disabled children in mainstream. Surveys for the Times Educational Supplement found that most teachers received less than a day's training on how to teach pupils with special needs. Teachers themselves estimated that up to 25,000 children in England and Wales in mainstream education would be better off in special schools. Yet, despite their reservations, most teachers supported inclusion where possible and believed the education of other children was enhanced by special needs pupils.

Disability Discrimnation Act beginnining to bite

The Disability Discrimination Act was reported as beginning to bite as a £425,000 lift was installed in order that a high school could fulfil its responsibilities towards a pupil who had difficulty walking. Without the lift the pupil would have had to travel an 88 miles round trip from his home to a special school. The possible closure of an adult education centre in Norwich - a Grade 1 listed building - because of the legislation was ruled out but staff said courses might have to move. And in Merseyside and Cheshire it was reported that 622 schools and colleges and other organisations were being investigated under the Act following complaints about lack of access. On a happy note a change of policy influenced by the Act which led to a young women with learning difficulties joining her local secondary school was heralded as a 'blow for equality'.

In other legal news, the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal (SENDIST) advised a parent that they had no power to deal with schools which failed to implement the Tribunal's orders. The mother said the school's failure to apologise to her daughter for discrimination made her feel staff were 'laughing' at her family. The Tribunal said the only course of action for the family would be to take up the matter with the Department of Education and Skills.

Towards the end of 2005, Government proposals began to emerge for what was called 'a new system of independent state schools'. The implications of this new Education White Paper were not immediately clear but the prospects for a positive effect on inclusive education did not look promising.


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January

Special schools in Coventry could close or merge in an attempt to get more children with special needs into mainstream schools. Education experts at Coventry City Council propose a reorganization of special education over the next ten years. They want to get disabled and special needs children mixing with mainstream pupils and want to reduce special school places from 830 to about 600, a reduction of more than a quarter. That could mean closing or merging special schools although they have not yet named the schools likely to be affected. There could also be new special schools built alongside mainstream ones. The drive will be aimed at pupils with physical disabilities and mild to moderate forms of conditions such as autism, learning difficulties, dyslexia and dyspraxia. Children with severe conditions will stay in special schools.
Coventry Evening Telegraph, January 4, 2005

The new Minister responsible for Special Educational Needs Services, Lord Filkin, has explained that the Government's new national programme for children with special educational needs and disabilities is part of a package of measures aimed at improving opportunities and helping them fulfill their potential. He listed the other initiatives as The Every Child Matters - Change for Children Programme to improve outcomes for all children, the Department for Education and Skills' Five Year Strategy to give greater emphasis to personalized learning and joining up education with children's services, the Children's National Service Framework to set standards for services to disabled children, and the Disability Discrimination Bill to promote equality of opportunity for disabled people in pubic services.
Local Government First, January 15, 2005

Government must do more to support young disabled people in Northern Ireland - this is the message from a new report from the University of Ulster. Commissioned by Disability Action and carried out by the School of Sociology and Applied Social Studies at UU, 'The Importance of Being Inclusive' takes a close look at youth-work practice involving young disabled people. The report found that although there are some excellent activities, programmes and events taking place that include disabled young people, this inclusive practice is not widespread.
Carrickfergus Advertiser and East Antrim Gazette, January 26, 2005

A disabled pupil will be able to join his friends at school after councillors agreed to install a £425,000 lift. Evan Mackintosh, 11, was born with a dislocation of his left hip and mild cerebral palsy which makes walking difficult. He is due to start his secondary education in August but his local school did not have an elevator to ferry him between departments. It means Evan, who sometimes relies on a wheelchair, faced an 88-mile round trip from his home to a special school in Inverness. But Highland councilors last week gave the green light for the lift to be fitted at his local Kingussie High School. They agreed that it was their duty to make his local school accessible under the Disability Discrimination Act. His father said: 'It might sound like a lot of money but it has made one small boy very happy. Now he gets to go on to high school with the friends he made at primary. It will also benefit disabled kids in the future hoping to go there'.
Daily Record, January 29, 2005


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February

Twelve special schools have been awarded specialist status as part of the Government's vision of creating 'centres of excellence'. The first 'trailblazer' schools will get extra money to invest in their specialism, just as other specialist schools have done in subjects such as sport and technology. They will also share their expertise with local mainstream schools. But the announcement was met with scepticism by campaigners who questioned whether schools catering exclusively for children with special educational needs could be regarded as specialists in inclusion. Steve Haines, education policy director at the Disability Rights Commission, said: 'If you want to provide best practice, are special schools going to be the best ones to deliver it? Surely inclusion is something all schools should be doing'.
Disability Now, February 1, 2005

The majority of schools are seeing positive results from the drive to promote inclusion, according to the first official ratings. Ofsted found that 46 per cent of primary and nursery schools were excellent or very good at promoting inclusion. In its annual report, a further 39 per cent. of schools were judged to be good and only two per cent. were seen as poor. It is the first time that ratings on inclusion have been included in the annual report. Chief Inspector of schools David Bell said: 'Most schools have a commitment to inclusion'. However, the report also found that provision for pupils with special educational needs was mixed, with many schools still finding it a challenge to meet pupils' needs'.
Children Now, February 9, 2005

New laws to give people with disabilities access to all public buildings could spell the end for a well-known Norfolk adult education centre. Norfolk Council is looking at the issue of disabled access to Wensum Lodge in Norwich which is a Grade 1 listed building and could cause problems. Council officials insisted that there were no plans to sell the building but conceded it was possible that courses might have to shift elsewhere if refurbishment costs were prohibitive.
Eastern Daily Press, February 14, 2005

The mother of an autistic child has reminded Tony Blair about the dangers of meeting voters face to face at election time. Maria Hutchings, 43, a housewife, said she was acting as the 'forgotten voice of Middle England' when she marched up to the Prime Minister during a live studio discussion on Channel Five Television yesterday to protest at the closure of special needs schools. Mrs. Hutchings, who traveled to the Birmingham Studio from her home in Benfleet, Essex, said her protest was the new way to get issues into the media and the only way to get attention. Her son, Paul, 10, who is autistic, attends a special school but it is threatened with closure in a drive for more integration of special needs children into other schools. More than 70 special schools have been closed since Labour came to power, the Conservatives claimed. Labour admits there are fewer special schools but says the number of places has remained constant since 1997.
The Independent, February 17, 2005

Writing in the correspondence section of The Independent, Rona Tutt, national president, National Association of Headteachers, says the expertise of special schools is a crucial element in local education provision and should not be lost. Effective special schools often provide support to local schools, which enables pupils to remain in their mainstream schools and others to move between special and mainstream schooling according to changing needs. Parents considering the education of a child with special needs should have all available options presented to them, so that they are able to make an informed choice. In the same section, other teachers point out that inclusion can work 'for the right child, in the right environment and with the right support' but stress that some pupils can not be included and it is 'myth' to think they can.
The Independent, February 19 and 23, 2005

Most of the pupils who moved out when Thurlow Park special school in south London closed did not move into mainstream. The pupils were sent to other special schools, some more than an hour away, which accommodate a wide range of difficulties. Parents and governors have complained that although inclusion was said to be the reason for the closure, it was in fact, a cost-cutting measure. The Government says there is no agenda to close special schools. A spokesman for the Department of Education and Skills said: 'The number of places in special schools has remained consistent since 1997, what we are delivering is bigger, better special schools. Special schools are an integral part of our drive to provide a top-class education for those with special needs'.
Sunday Telegraph, February 20, 2005


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March

A new residential school for autistic children at Condover Hall, Shrewsbury, will create 255 new jobs. The Chronicle revealed last week that The Priory Group had bought the former school for the blind. Director of schools for the group, Stephen Bradshaw, said the Grade 1 listed building was bought for £5 million and another £5 million will be spent on refurbishment. The building will house 30 children with autism and a further education college for 80 pupils with Asperger's syndrome. It was expected that the school would open in November and 255 jobs would be available over two and a half years. 'We will be writing to all the people that were employed by the RNIB - the quality of staff is paramount,' said Mr. Bradshaw.
Shrewsbury Chronicle, March 3, 2005

A Government Minister has met Newham pupils, parents and teachers to see the work being done to include children with special needs in mainstream education. Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Children and Families, Lord Filkin, visited the borough to see how Newham has promoted Government policy on inclusion. He met young people who have been through an inclusive education system and also spoke to parents and special educational needs officers. Newham was among the first local authority to introduce inclusive education. More than 95 per cent of pupils with special educational needs attend mainstream schools, one of the highest proportions in England.
Docklands Express, March 5, 2005

The Tories will halt the closure of special schools as part of an overhaul of special needs education provision, if elected, Mr. Howard will announce today. The party will also abolish Labour's inclusion policy which encourages the integration of special needs pupils into mainstream schools. Parents would be offered greater choice, he said. Mr. Howard has accused the Government of directing such children into mainstream education that may not be appropriate for them. 'The fashionable presumption that children with special needs all go into mainstream education is wrong - as many parents and teachers will tell you,' he will say.
Daily Mail, March 7, 2005

Primary children in Wigan have been laying foundations for the future. Pupils of Hindley Junior and Infants School toured the building site of their new £3.5 million school for a taste of what life will be like from September. Children and staff from the Long Lane School will be moving to their new home in Argyle Street, Hindley, after the summer holidays. The new primary is at the forefront of Wigan education authority's plans to teach more children with special needs in mainstream schools. It will have additional facilities for children with medical needs including a hydrotherapy pool.
Wigan Evening Post, March 7, 2005

Spending on special needs education has risen from £2.7bn to £3.8bn in the past five years, according to Labour. And 141 special schools have closed in the seven years since before Labour won power in 1997 and 93 have closed in the seven years since. The information was released to coincide with the Tory election press conference on education which featured Maria Hutchings, the mother of a ten-year-old autistic boy who has attacked the Government's approach to special needs education. The Tories admitted that some of Mrs. Hutching's problems were caused by Tory controlled Essex Council, that Tory-run Wandsworth is to close a special school and that the policy of teaching all children in mainstream schools where possible began before Labour won in 1997.
The Independent, March 8, 2005

Parents have told of their anger at the closure of their children's special needs school. Council bosses have agreed to shut Western Park School in Leicester because of falling pupil numbers. Parents now fear they may struggle to find places for their children who have physical and behavioural difficulties. Just 28 children were expected to still be on the roll in September. Had the school stayed open, it would have cost Leicester Education Authority around £100,000 a year to subsidise.
Leicester Mail, March 17, 2005

Special needs teachers in Merseyside may strike over the planned closure of their schools, it emerged last night. Union policy says staff at special schools are exempt from industrial action and teachers in the region have never resorted to such action before. But last night the National Union for Teachers' Liverpool branch said its members of Complex Learning Difficulty Schools were prepared to strike for the sake of their pupils. The first of four CLD schools in Liverpool, Watergate Special School, is due to close in September. The rest of the CLD schools and ten of 14 other special schools are all expected to be closed by 2010. Liverpool City Council Executive member, Coun. Paul Clein, said: 'Quite frankly the suggestion that teachers will strike is bizarre. The fact is if we don't close Watergate it will wither and we will be forced to make redundancies. The steps we are proposing to make will safeguard those jobs.'
Liverpool Daily Post, March 15, 2005

Many delegates at the annual conference in Brighton of the National Association of Schoolmasters and Union of Women Teachers blame problems with behaviour on the Government's inclusion policy. According to Peter Tippets from Hampshire just one child with behaviour difficulties in a class can disrupt the education of all the others. The union voted unanimously to call for a reversal of the policy of including violent and disruptive pupils in mainstream schools. It also urged automatic and permanent exclusion for violent and disruptive pupils.
Daily Telegraph, March 30, 2005


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April

Parents of special needs children face an anxious time as new schools come on line. Representatives of support group Wigwam believe Guernsey Education is going along the right lines with co-located schools at Le Rondin and Les Nicolles. But they are urging the department to get staffing right. Jan Aslett's son, Jack 6, will be going to the new school at Le Rondin when it opens. 'It's all about staffing, manpower, and expertise which we lack at the moment. I just hope we don't in the new school.
Guernsey Press and Star, April 4, 2005

Liverpool parents will step into the election campaign today when they take their protests against the closure of special needs schools to Downing Street. Liverpool City Council has provoked anger by proposing to shut up to 10 of the city's 14 special schools, as part of a policy to promote 'inclusion'. Council leaders have pointed to a decline in pupil numbers as more parents with special needs children send them to mainstream schools. They have insisted that no child will suffer a loss of support if they are transferred to mainstream schools - and that the Council is simply following Government's guidelines. The protest trip to Downing Street has been organised by city Labour MPs Louise Ellman (Riverside) and Maria Eagle (Garston) who is the Minister for disabled people. Ms. Eagle said people complained they were not getting the help they needed and said she was concerned that the Lib-Dem's Council was not 'statementing' children quickly enough. However, a city council spokesman insisted it was 'justifiably proud' of completing 99 per cent of statements within the Government's 18-week limit.
Liverpool Daily Post, April 7, 2005

Part of Bedale High School, North Yorkshire, is to have a dramatic new look with major alterations to its main entrance almost 50 years after the building was opened to the first pupils. Tenders have been invited for the work which is expected cost between £80,000 £100,000 and it is hoped it will be completed in time for the Autumn term. The head teacher, Graham Turner, said the improvements brought the school in line with requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act and would also create a more welcoming approach to the school for everybody.
Darlington and Stockton Times (North Yorkshire), April 8, 2005

A Wigan special school threatened with closure has won a reprieve after a top judge granted a local man permission to challenge the decision. Wigan Council wants to shut Mere Oaks special school in Boars Head in September 2006. Anthony Webster, the Schools Adjudicator, based in Darlington, approved the Council's proposed move in September 2004. Mr. Justice Beatson, sitting at London's High Court, granted Graham Bradshaw, a member of Save Mere Oaks Action Group, permission to challenge the adjudicator's decision on financial grounds. The judge said that the adjudicator had arguably not given sufficient attention to the question of how the changes would be financed. He denied claims that the adjudicator had not looked properly at the education and healthcare of pupils should they be moved to new schools. The case will now go forward for a half-day hearing on a date which has yet to be fixed. An education authority spokesperson said: 'We've noted the ruling which has been made on the adjudicator's decision and how he reached it, rather than on the strength of the LEA's case.'
Wigan Evening Post, April 9, 2005

A mother has challenged education officials to haul her before the courts after her 11-year-old son missed months of lessons because he is suicidal at the thought of going to school. Gail Shallcross's defiant stance comes after a long running battle to get son Dean into a special school where she feels his emotional and behavioural problems will be better tackled. Although parents are asked to nominate a suitable school as part of the assessment process, the Council can reject their nomination. An educational psychologist has found no evidence Dean's difficulties are severe enough to justify sending him to Abbey Hill School in Bucknall, the Shallcross's preferred option. Instead the statement says he should have five hours of additional support in a mainstream school every week.
Sentinel (Stoke-on-Trent) final edition, April 16, 2005

Bradford Council has said it is doing all it can to ensure children with Down's Syndrome will not be left without support they need as part of plans to change special needs teaching in the area. The council is carrying out a consultation on its plans to close 10 special schools and replace them with six new units to be incorporated into mainstream schools. A final decision is due to be made next month. Members of the Bradford Down's Syndrome Support Group say the plans are inadequate and they also fear special needs cash will be diverted to fill the council's education funding gap.
Yorkshire Post (West/Leeds), April 18, 2005

Special school teachers in Leeds say they feel 'betrayed and misled' by Education Leeds over plans to axe staff at a group of schools by more than a third. They spoke out as parents of special schoolchildren lobbied Leeds City Council over fears that the future of their children's care and education is in jeopardy. The row centres on a decision to move many special school children into mainstream schools in the city under a scheme known as 'inclusion'. Parents fear staff redundancies and closures of some special schools means there will be nowhere for children with severe disabilities to return to if mainstream cannot cope. Under the inclusion scheme special needs education has been divided up into Special Inclusive Learning Centres (SILC) covering small groups of schools across the city. Education Leeds is planning redundancies of seven teachers and nine nursery nurses at schools covered by the North West Leeds SILC. Council leader Andrew Carter said no redundancy notices had yet been served and Education Leeds was trying to work through the issues with the staff concerned.
Yorkshire Evening Post (Leeds edition), April 21, 2005

Scores of schools and colleges could face tribunals for failing to provide equal access for disabled people. A total of 622 organisations are being investigated after complaints about lack of access to education in Meryseyside and Cheshire under the six-month-old Disability Discrimination Act.
Huyton and Roby Star, April 21, 2005

Most people believe children with special needs should be taught in mainstream schools, despite a recent political row over the closure of special schools, research found this week. The overwhelming majority of social care workers - 76 per cent - also backed the inclusion policy, according to a survey for Community Care magazine.
Ipswich Evening Star, April 29, 2005


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May

Minority ethnic children look set to lose under Government plans to reduce teachers' workloads. Increasing numbers of schools believe the only way they can implement the workload agreement is to redeploy teachers funded through a programme to improve the attainment of ethnic minority pupils. The workload agreement which comes into force in September will place a legal requirement on heads to give teachers half a day a week out of the classroom for preparation, planning and assessment. Many heads have already said they cannot afford support staff to cover for teachers and may have to send children home to avoid breaking the law. Now it has emerged that other heads plan to redeploy the ethnic minority programme teachers to provide cover.
Children Now, May 11, 2005

The announcement of 660 new special needs teaching posts at primary level may come to represent a watershed in the provision of State facilities for less able children in Irish schools. The new system empowers schools to respond to the needs of a particular child without having to wait for an individual application for support to be processed. The new teaching posts mean that nearly 1,200 special education teaching posts have been created in primary schools in the last year. The response of Government in meeting he needs of children with learning difficulties is at last beginning to meet the huge demand. It is estimated that 1 in 5 children in primary schools has special learning requirements. Additionally there are children with needs such as autism and Down's Syndrome who will continue to be catered for individually. The service to them has been enhanced by the recruitment of more than 70 local special needs organisers throughout the State.
Irish Times (Dublin), May 10, 2005

Writing an 'Education Soap Box' article in a major Scottish newspaper, Fred Forrester says the policy of mainstreaming by the Scottish Parliament needs reviewing. 'Whatever social disadvantage might be created for individuals by the revival of special education (joint campuses are one way of alleviating this), this is ultimately more acceptable than disorder in the classrooms of mainstream schools. Most teachers subscribe to a liberal inclusive educational consensus, but balk at the breakdown of law and order in schools. Politicians must listen to frontline practitioners who have to face the consequences of introducing impractical policies.'
The Scotsman, May 18, 2005

Ellesmere College, Leicester, prides itself on being a good inclusive school. Through its work with partner schools in Leicester it is turning the traditional notion of inclusion on its head. The term is usually associated with mainstream schools that widen access for children with disabilities or learning difficulties. But Ellesmere is a special school which is opening its doors to more able children who are struggling in mainstream education. And through strong links with partner schools its own students can move between the college and mainstream schools to take GCSEs or to whichever environment suits their educational needs. Vice principal, David Thomas said there was a continuum of provision with movement between mainstream education, schools with additional resources, units for children with particular disabilities and special schools.
Times Educational Supplement, May 20, 2005

When Jordan Bailey was diagnosed as having cerebral palsy, his mum's first reaction was to send him to a special school. When he was two, the youngster started attending John Jamieson School in Oakwood, Leeds, which worked with children with physical disabilities However, despite the school's specialism in the field, Jordan was not happy there. His mother, Karen, agreed that her son could try out a mainstream nursery. At the time, Seacroft Children's Centre was embarking on a pilot scheme which involved taking on a handful of youngsters with complex needs. At first Jordan spent one morning at the centre. It was an instant hit. Soon he was going to regular sessions, playing and working alongside the mainstream children who accepted him immediately. Eventually, Jordan, now four, joined full-time.
Yorkshire Evening Post, May 26, 2005


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June

Baroness Warnock, the architect of the drive towards teaching special needs children in mainstream schools, is to deliver a damning indictment of the system. Mary Warnock, whose report on special education 25 years ago began the move towards greater inclusion, is calling for 'a radical review' of procedures. In a pamphlet to be published by the Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain, she says the pressure to include pupils with special needs in mainstream schools caused 'confusion of which children are the casualties'. She says she wants to see an independent committee of inquiry set up to investigate how the policy is operating. She also calls for a review of the statementing process whereby parents can apply for a statement of their children's needs, claiming it is 'wasteful and bureaucratic' and 'must be abolished'. Her U turn is confirmed just a day after the Conservatives called for a moratorium on special-school closures claiming the number of places has been reduced by 6,000 since 1997. She says support for inclusion springs from 'hearts in the right place' but describes its implementation as a 'disastrous legacy'.
The Independent, June 9, 2005

Pressure is mounting on the Government to dramatically reform special needs education. Families and politicians who oppose putting pupils with educational or behavioural difficulties in mainstream classes intensified their protests after the woman behind the policy admitted it was not working. Baroness Warnock said inclusion was failing thousands of children. Tory education spokesman David Cameron, whose three-year-old son has cerebral palsy and epilepsy said: 'We have been saying for some time that the system isn't working properly. Special schools are closing, parents are being denied choice and the statementing process has become a total nightmare.' Douglas Carswell, Tory MP for Harwich, who has been campaigning against the closure of The Leas special school in Clacton-on-Sea, Essex, added: 'I have seen at first hand some of the consequences of this policy of inclusion and it is immoral. Some of the most vulnerable people are being forced to go to schools where they will be bullied. It's pathetic to talk about parent power when there are parents whose children's education hangs on the whim of some unaccountable remote bureaucrat.'
Daily Mail, June 10, 2005

Parents facing the closure of their children's special schools have accused 'flagship' Tory councils of ignoring the Conservative Party's stance against closures. The debate over special needs education resurfaced last week when Baroness Warnock admitted that the inclusion agenda had failed. Her comments were made as local authorities review their special needs provision. In many cases this involves closing schools to put children with mild learning difficulties and behaviour problems into mainstream schools or into bigger special schools with a more varied intake. Despite their party's anti-closure stance a number of Conservative councils are forging ahead with proposals to close special schools. They include Wandsworth, Essex and Dorset Councils. One parent who is against the closure of Chartfield School in Putney, accused Wandsworth Council of 'child abuse'. However, a Council spokesman said the Council was not anti-special school. He said the changes were as much about complexity of need as about inclusion.
Sunday Telegraph, June 12, 2005

Writing in the Sunday Times Correspondence Page, Simone Aspis, of the British Council of Disabled People, which represents more than 130 groups run by disabled people, says that many of them attended special schools and were subjected to bullying, verbal, physical and emotional abuse and did not learn the range of subjects offered to non-disabled pupils. 'Nobody would suggest opening up 'special' schools for black children or Jewish children if they experience racism or anti-semitism…why should it be any different for disabled children?'
Sunday Times, June 19, 2005

The parents of Alexander Castillejo have vowed to take Wandsworth Council to court if his needs are not met when his special school, The Vines, closes. Carlos Castillejo, father of five-year-old Alexander described The Vines as a godsend and disputed that the pupils needs could be met in mainstream schools. He said many children could end up being expelled from mainstream schools that did not have the skills, the facilities, or the will to integrate new pupils successfully.
Evening Standard (London), June 21, 2005

Angry parents last night vowed to save Anglesey's only special needs school. Education bosses plan to split Ysgol Y Bont, which stands in a Llangefni industrial estate, into two sites miles apart. Pupils would face long journeys to school if the plans are approved. The present building, a 1960s pre-fabricated wooden structure, is said to be unsuitable and in need of re-building. Geraint Ellis, Anglesey Council head of education services, said the plans were still under consideration. Two options had been presented to parents but neither were welcomed. Under one, Ysgol Y Bont would be housed in a unit attached to a primary school. Pupils with moderate learning difficulties would be integrated into mainstream education, cutting pupil numbers from 76 to about 60. Under the other option there would be two units, primary and secondary, one attached to a new primary school and the other sharing the site with the local comprehensive.
Daily Post, June 22, 2005

The mother of a nine-year-old girl who was discriminated against by her former school because of her learning difficulties has hit out at the school's failure to apologise. Sancton Wood School in Cambridge discriminated against Agnes Meakin by delaying and imposing conditions to her entry to the junior school, according to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal (SENDIST). Agnes's Mum, 44-year-old Mary Meakin, said: 'They have been ordered by the Tribunal to apologise but they haven't. It feels like they are laughing at us'. A spokesman for SENDIST said the tribunal did not have the power to deal with schools which failed to implement an order. He added that Mr. and Mrs Meakin should report the school to the Department of Education and Skills about its failure to carry out the Tribunal's order.
Cambridge Evening News, June 23, 2005

A leading children's charity has said it is alarmed by Baroness Warnock withdrawing her support for including disabled children in mainstream schools. Lady Warnock published a pamphlet setting out the reasons why she no longer thought such a policy of inclusion was healthy. Chris Osborne, policy adviser at the Children's Society, expressed concern at Lady Warnock's remarks. 'The Children's Society is alarmed at the negative picture of inclusive education that has emerged following Baroness Warnock's U-turn on inclusive education for disabled children. Developing schools in a way that all children can flourish give disabled children an opportunity to belong and participate in their communities. Inclusion promotes familiarity and tolerance. It also reduces fear and rejection and improves achievement for all. Despite the Government's commitment to embed inclusion in every school, discriminatory attitudes towards those with special needs still exist today. Our vision of seeing children grow up together, not apart from one another, will only become a reality when the rights and needs of all young people are taken seriously.'
PA News Wire, June 29, 2005


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July

One small step for schoolgirl, Maddy Sibthorp, segregated because of learning difficulties, could lead the way for others with challenging educational needs. For as Maddy took up her place at Wilmslow High School this year she struck a blow for equality and triumphed over educational red tape. Now her Mum, Kate Sibthorp, has gone on the record to praise a shift in policy that has allowed her daughter to move into a mainstream school. For the past twelve years 14-year-old Maddy has been a pupil at Macclesfield's Park Lane Special School. But this week she enjoyed her first week as a full-time pupil at Wilmslow High School thanks to provisions under the Disabilities Discrimination Act. Kate said: 'It made me realise that people with learning disabilities have the same rights as everybody else to go to the same shops and the same schools -- they have got a right to be part of society.'
Wilmslow Express, July 7, 2005

Fewer Notts youngsters with special needs have places at special schools than almost anywhere in the country. Research from the Centre for Studies on Inclusive Education (CSIE) showed that the percentage of children being given a place at a Nottingham or Notts special school is lower than the national average. In 2004, only 0.45 per cent of children with special needs were given a place by Notts County Council and only 0.47 per cent by Nottingham City Council. Only Newham (0.6 per cent) and Rutland (0.23 per cent) had lower figures. The national average was 0.82 per cent -- 101,612 pupils. Jeff Redshaw, whose grandson Anthony Ferguson goes to Nethergate Special School in Clifton, said: 'I am not surprised. Special needs children get a raw deal. I know there are an awful lot of people desperate for a place at a special needs school.'
Nottingham Evening Post, July 11, 2005

Birmingham has come near the bottom of a hall of shame for failing to integrate youngsters with disabilities. The authority has been highlighted as having a high proportion of 0--19-year-olds that are 'segregated' by being taught in special schools or away from mainstream schools. In Birmingham, some 3,600 pupils are taught in special schools -- 1.21 per cent of all 0-19-year-olds, compared to the national average of 0.82 per cent. Mark Vaughan, founder and co-director of the Centre For Studies on Inclusive Education which has published the list, said: 'Birmingham is much greater than the national average. They need to focus more on developing inclusive policies.'
Birmingham Post, July 11, 2005

The integration of disabled pupils into mainstream schools is being undermined by a small band of politicians and parents, disability rights campaigners argued today. In a full page advert, the charity, Disability Equality in Education, said it was concerned that the recent debate on inclusion, prompted by comments from Baroness Warnock and the Conservative Party, was giving a 'distorted view of inclusive education'. The advert, signed by education charities, teachers, parents and disabled people, said: 'These campaigners are undermining the inclusion of disabled pupils in mainstream schools. They seem to have missed out on 25 years of global debate and development of effective practice that has put inclusion of disabled pupils on a human rights stage.' It goes on: 'Baroness Warnock is talking about the problems of poor integration. This is not inclusion which means changing the school so all children can flourish'.
Guardian Unlimited, July 14, 2005

It's been a long goodbye for Sheffield's East Hill Primary School. The special school for youngsters with a variety of learning difficulties was earmarked for closure in November 2002. But it was decided to phase the shutdown with younger pupils transferring to units in mainstream primaries and the older ones moving on when they were ready for secondary schooling. Since then the school has maintained high standards with staff putting some turbulent times behind them. The school finally closes today and the occasion was marked earlier this week with a gala day, complete with clowns, fire eaters, magicians and a bouncy castle. Headteacher, Tony Turner said some parents had doubts about pupils moving back to mainstream schools because of problems there in the first place. He added: 'We explained we had specially chosen places for them in integrated units. These were all new places which had been tailormade. We were determined the places would be as good or better. Units now are very different to how they were five years ago.'
Star (Sheffield), July 21, 2005

A specialist school for youngsters who have been expelled from mainstream education has been placed under special measures by inspectors. Wansdyke School in Odd Down caters exclusively for children aged between nine and 16 who have been permanently excluded from schools across Bath and north east Somerset. In May, Government inspectors from Ofsted visited the school as part of routine check-ups, but they found the education being given to most of the 40 boys and one girl was 'unsatisfactory'. Inspectors also felt that pupils' bad behaviour meant legal requirements to ensure health and safety of all staff and pupils was not being met. The school's management has been handed back to the education department of Bath and North East Somerset and the headteacher has resigned. The education authority has the power to close the school but has decided to keep it open and work to improve it.
Bath Times, July 21, 2005

A new resource unit has opened at Wells Hall Primary School, Great Cornard, which will benefit autistic children attending mainstream schools in the area. Building on the success of an innovative unit based at Beacon Hill Special School in Ipswich since 2002, the unit will provide outreach support for children aged from five to 16 diagnosed with autistic spectrum disorder. The new resource will offer a wide range of flexible packages, tailored to meet the needs of individual children and targeting important areas like social skills, communication and behaviour.
Suffolk Free Press, July 21, 2005

Children with severe learning difficulties are to be taught alongside mainstream city pupils in a new £8 million school. The ground-breaking scheme will see a new school built in Stechford Road, Hodge Hill on the site of Colebourne Primary. Beaufort Special School which looks after children with severe learning difficulties aged four to 11, will then relocate from Coleshill Road, Stechford. The proposal is expected to be approved by Birmingham City Council's cabinet on Monday.
Birmingham Post, July 23, 2005

A new breed of special school must be created to house problem pupils from dysfunctional families, a teachers' leader urged today. Children from the poorest backgrounds and those in care should be treated as having special needs, just as if they were physically disabled, said Professional Association of Teachers official Barry Matthews. He told the association's annual conference. 'We must invent a new kind of school that can cater not only for specific disabilities but for children with needs that arise from social disadvantage. Of particular concern are children in care, who often need an environment within which they can be known and supported by their teachers, so that relationships of trust may develop'. Education watchdog, Ofsted, warned last year that many schools had become dumping grounds for the worst-behaved children, which was putting huge strain on them. Many teachers in mainstream schools were not trained to cope with such children, and even headteachers who supported inclusion were growing fearful of its effect on their schools.
Standard Lite, July 28, 2005

Children with special needs are 24 times more likely to be segregated at school if they live in parts of the North East of England than they are in London's East End. A new analysis of Government statistics from the Centre for Studies on Inclusive Education, CSIE, shows huge variations in levels of inclusion. The study points to the gulf between local authorities, questioning their commitment to inclusion and the 'unacceptably wide degree of local variation'. Spokespersons from the most and least inclusive local authorities in the study both said their policies had been implemented after consultation with families.
Times Educational Supplement, July 29, 2005

Government figures show that the number of children with statements hit a five-year low in January. But there has been an increase in the number and proportion of children who have learning difficulties but no statement of special needs. Campaigners say many councils are unwilling to 'statement' pupils because of the legal entitlement and possible extra costs. Despite recent complaints about closures of special schools, there has been a slight increase in the proportion of children with statements attending them. A spokesman for the National Association of Special Educational Needs said the reduction in statements might be because of funding implications but it was also because schools were meeting needs in different ways without statements. She added: 'I found it interesting that the number of children in special schools has not fallen. People talk about special schools closing and some are, but others must be developing'.
BBC News Online, July 29, 2005


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August

A little girl with cerebral palsy will be able to go to school with her big sister thanks to the generosity of friends and family. A total of £19, 500 was raised by Tallulah's Fund to pay for essential alterations at Our Lady's RC Primary School in Limehouse, London, enabling access for disabled children. Tallulah Frendo, aged four, will now join her sister Phoebe, seven. Their parents thanked everyone involved in the fund raising for their hard work and generous support.
Eastend Life, August 1, 2005

In public, teachers talk abut pupils with emotional problems, disaffection and challenging behaviour. But in the staffroom such children are often referred to as 'nutters' or 'hooligans'. Elias Avramidis, a lecturer in teacher training at York University, said many teachers felt poorly-prepared to include pupils with emotional and behaviour difficulties in their lessons. He told a conference of special needs experts last week that teachers needed to think about their own classroom abilities. At the Inclusive and Supportive Education Congress at Strathclyde University, he said: 'Teachers can be too quick to label children as having special needs. Maybe they need to examine how they are teaching rather than jumping to conclusions about pupils,'
Times Educational Supplement, Scotland, August 12, 2005

Irish students with disabilities are being forced to quit college due to lack of support in institutes of technology (ITs), a report has found. The research for AHEAD The Association of Higher Education Access and Disability, found 2.7 per cent of undergraduates in the 14 ITs have disabilities compared to 1.6 per cent in 1999. More than two-thirds of these 1,366 students have specific learning difficulties, such as with reading and writing. Much of the difficulties were said to be caused by lack of support staff.
Irish Examiner, Cork, August 24, 2005

Parents and childcare experts are being urged to help shape the future of dozens of children's centres set for Gloucestershire. Forty centres, designed to help children under five lead better lives, have to be created in the County by 2010 under the Government's Sure Start scheme. The centres will provide the key services needed by young families under one roof, including education, health and day care. Gloucestershire County Council, which is responsible for the centres, wants help deciding where they should be and how the services should operate.
Gloucestershire Echo, August 27, 2005

The parents of an autistic boy have won a four-year battle to send their son to a special school they set up with other parents because state schools were not catering for their needs. Samantha and Damien Hilton's landmark victory offers hope to hundreds of parents who believe that education authorities are forcing their children to attend ordinary schools. County council chiefs in East Sussex had ruled that seven-year-old Max Hilton must attend a mainstream junior school 20 miles from his home in Crowborough. When his parents Samantha, 35, and Damien, 33, rejected the decision, saying sending Max, whose autism is 'pronounced', to a primary school - and one so far away - would be 'disastrous' for his development the council threatened them with prosecution. Now, however, a tribunal in London has agreed with the Hiltons and ruled that Max should attend the independent Step by Step School for autistic children two days a week and Herne juniors, a state primary in Crowborough, with one-to-one support, three days a week. The National Autistic Society said the dual placement between the public and independent sectors was an important precedent.
Sunday Telegraph, August 28, 2005


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September

A ten-year-old boy has been expelled from Knuzden St Oswald's C of E Primary School, Blackburn, after carrying out a 'violent assault' on a teacher. But the mother of Thomas Briggs, who is also alleged to have attacked a fellow pupil, said education bosses had failed her son who suffers from an autistic-like disorder. She said that if he had been given the specialist care and supervision he needed his disciplinary problems would not have surfaced. Teachers and education chiefs said the school had 'no alternative' to excluding him after witnessing a 'gradual deterioration' in his behaviour.
Lancashire Evening Post, September 21, 2005

A headteacher has made a passionate plea to education bosses not to axe specialist deaf teaching at her school. Nab Wood School is set to lose its specialist provision as part of a review of deaf teaching in the district. Secondary school deaf teaching is set to be transferred from Nab Wood School to Hanson School in Bradford in plans which see two new centres of excellence created In Bradford, costing up to £3.6 million. As well as Nab Wood school losing its specialist provision for deaf teaching Thorn Park School for the Deaf will close for good. Nab Wood's headteacher, Helen Lynch said that the provision and expertise at the school had been praised by Ofsted and since 1999 all students had achieved six or more A to G grades.
Telegraph and Argus Bradford, September 23, 2005

Plans to save two special schools in Gloucestershire from closure may be shelved, it emerged last night. Labour and Lib Dem councillors have issued a call-in notice which will delay plans to save Alderman Knight School in Tewkesbury and Belmont School in Cheltenham. They claim the Conservatives have not presented enough arguments to overturn their initial closure plans, among other technical grounds. It comes a week after the Conservative-controlled council backed proposals to stop the axe falling on the two schools by re-writing the council's special education needs policy.
Western Daily Press, Bristol, September 29, 2005

Students who have difficulties reading text or handling books have benefited from the development of 'smart' electronic textbooks at the Open University. The OU has developed a computer system that allows 'print-impaired' students - who may be partially sighted, have fatigue or dyslexia or difficulty manipulating books - to listen to an audio recording of a text while simultaneously searching, bookmarking and annotating it. They system - called Readout - is being used by more than 300 students on 30 courses. It allows them to complete self-assessment questions in texts and make marginal notes in their electronic books. The recording of texts is done by volunteers.
Times Higher Education Supplement, September 30, 2005


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October

Delays in building mean a severely disabled pupil is still waiting for her first day at secondary school. Lucy Hudson, 11, has congenital muscular dystrophy and must use a wheelchair. For the past five weeks she has been at home with her mother while her future classmates are at Barton Court Grammar School in Canterbury. Lucy's condition means she has to lie down during lessons. And needs to be hoisted in her wheelchair using a sling when moving around the school. Education chiefs said this week that the cost of Lucy's access to Barton Court School was in the region of £300,000 and work had been carried out for a year. The delay had been cause by structural problems which came to light in the summer holidays.
Kent Messenger (County), October 7, 2005

A child who was told nowhere in Cambridgeshire could teach him has started at a mainstream school. Eleven-year-old Laurence Clover has such severe Asperger's Syndrome, a form of autism, that Cambridgeshire County Council told his mother there was no school in the county that would be able to teach him. When school started in September he still didn't have a school place and his mother thought he would have to be taught by tutors at home. But now the county council has done a U-turn and Laurence has become a pupil at Cottenham Village College which has a specialist unit for children with special needs.
Cambridge Evening News, October 8, 2005

Medway Council will be seeking to place special needs children into mainstream schools to reduce waiting lists at the town's four special schools. Bradfields, Danecourt, Abbey Court, and Rivermead provide 600 places for children who have mental health problems, severe learning difficulties, medical ailments and autism. But they are not big enough to cope with the growing number of youngsters needing one-to-one education. More than 100 children are placed in schools outside the borough or in independent schools because Medway cannot meet their needs. There are no places available at Danecourt until January 2007, where £1.2million is being spent to replace temporary classrooms. Bradfields has 29 vacancies available next September but 40 children are seeking a place.
Medway Messenger, October 10, 2005

A teenager who was expelled for allegedly taking a craft knife into school has won £5,000 for his hurt feelings. Mark Bygrave, 15, was awarded £11,000 in compensation and also given £6,000 towards his home tuition. The Local Government ombudsman, Jerry White, ruled that the local authority in Greenwich was guilty of maladministration for failing to provide the boy with a proper full-time education after he was expelled.
Express and Star (City Final -Wolverhampton), October 11, 2005

Most teachers have received less than a day's training on how to teach pupils with special needs. A survey for the Times Educational Supplement reveals that 37 per cent had no instruction at all during their initial teacher training, while just over a fifth (23 per cent.) received only one or half a day's instruction. Jonathan Rix, lecturer on inclusion, curriculum and learning at the Open University, believes that it is impossible to prepare a teacher in just one day for the challenges of working with special needs children. 'One of the primary battles for teachers is overcoming fear of working with special needs pupils. If you have hands-on experience, you start to understand that tools which you use with other children can also apply to those with SEN. But one day is not enough to build up confidence. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy: if you have self-confidence, you'll believe it's your job, rather than a role for specialists'.
Times Educational Supplement, October 14, 2005

All special schools in Brent , London, are to remain, says the local Council. Brent Council ruled no special school should close, after a review of its special educational provision. A council spokesman said: 'The proposals set out a strong and continuing role for special schools in meeting complex needs and supporting the work of mainstream schools. Improvements in provision mean fewer children will need to travel to special schools outside Brent. The development came when it was reported that Brent LEA would have difficulties making all of its schools compliant with the Disability Discrimination Act.
Camden Times, October 19, 2005

Teachers believe up to 25,000 children in England and Wales are in mainstream education who would be better off in special schools, a TES survey suggests. The findings raise doubts about whether thousands of children with special needs, ranging from behaviour disorders to physical disabilities are being adequately provided for. And they call into question the Government's policy on inclusion. The survey also reveals that thousands of teacher days are lost as a result of stress or injury caused by teaching children with special needs. But despite their reservations most teachers support inclusion where possible. And around a third of heads and teachers think children with special needs are most likely to achieve their potential in a mainstream school. Almost half of heads and more than a third of classroom teachers believe that the education of other children is enhanced by special needs pupils.
Times Educational Supplement - Scotland, October 21, 2005

A special needs teenager is being forced to live 120 miles away from his family because of lack of expert care in Norfolk. For the past year, Lisa Eastman's son, Daniel, 14, has been boarding at a £45,000-a-year specialist school in Rutland where he is desperately homesick and talks of running away. But because of the high cost of ferrying him to and from the school, he can go home only once every fortnight. The youngster who was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder when he was six, is one of 150 special needs children educated outside the county. Norfolk County Council, which has responsibility for education, admitted the situation was less than ideal and said it was taking steps to reduce the reliance on far-away establishments.
Evening News (Norwich), October 25, 2005


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November

The cost to the taxpayer of sending pupils to private special schools has soared past half a billion pounds a year due to rising demand for the most expensive care. The rising costs have come despite the fact than local authorities are paying for fewer pupils to attend independent and non-maintained special schools that they did two years ago. Since 2003 the number of these placements for young people aged up to 19 has dropped by 6 per cent. but the average fees have risen by nearly a fifth to £49,570 per child. However, there has been a big increase in demand for residential care, costing local taxpayers more than £200,000 per pupil each year. An estimated 161 children receive this support, often consisting of 24-hour supervision by two or more staff members, which is nearly five times as many as two years ago. There are at least four pupils in England whose placements cost more than £500,000 a year each because of their extreme disabilities or behavioural problems. The figures were revealed in an annual survey by the 11 SEN regional partnerships set up by the Government.
Times Educational Supplement, November 11, 2005

Being accepted by their classmates can be crucial to the successful integration of children with special needs into mainstream schools. This is the finding of a book, 'Snapshots of Possibilities', published by the Alliance For Inclusive Education, which highlights successful strategies used by 21 primary and secondary schools, all with effective inclusion policies. Micheline Mason, director of the Alliance, said: 'For a child to feel included they need friends. They need not to be bullied. Teachers can't ensure that. Only other children can. This is an important part of their education. It gives children the ability to build a better community, which they can take away into adult life. It teaches them to include'.
Times Educational Supplement, November 11, 2005

The system of independent state schools envisaged in the Government's latest set of education reforms will leave pupils with special needs out in the cold, campaigners fear. Special education is one of the most contentious areas of education but last month's long awaited white paper made comparatively few references to it. Some argue that the problems caused by the push to educate special needs pupils in mainstream schools have been ignored. Even supporters of inclusion believe greater school autonomy and a changed role for local authorities is likely to lead to fewer resources.
Times Educational Supplement, November 11, 2005

Faith secondary schools take significantly fewer pupils with emotional, behavioural and physical difficulties than other state schools, official figures reveal. The Department of Education and Skills statistics show 17.1 per cent of children at non-religious secondaries this year have special needs compared to 14.1 per cent. at faith secondaries. They also show that 18.9 per cent. of those at secular primaries have special needs compared to 16 per cent. at faith based primaries. Earlier this year, The TES revealed that Anglican and Catholic schools take fewer children from deprived backgrounds. The latest statistics will reinforce the view of critics that some faith schools out-perform their secular neighbours by covertly selecting the brightest pupils.
Times Educational Supplement, November 11, 2005

Fellgate Primary School is unique in South Tyneside… it has a 30-place autistic unit attached to it. It opened in Jarrow in 1999 and caters for children aged 3 to 11 with autistic spectrum disorder. The children come from all over the borough and have a range of difficulties, from Asperger's syndrome to non-verbal communication. Special tests sat by pupils in the autistic unit put it in the top 25 per cent nationally for children with ASD. Primary school pupils also do well in national tests, exceeding the national average in English, maths and science standard assessment tests (SATS). However, when it comes to league tables, Fellgate appears in the bottom half because results from the ASD pupils are included. Last year it came 41st in South Tyneside but if the autistic unit is taken out of the equation, it should have been 13th. The school prides itself on 100 per cent integration with mainstream pupils working with ASD pupils in the unit and in the school.
Shields Gazette, November 18, 2005

Two schools in Crowborough have been celebrating this week following a £3.6million windfall for new state-of-the-art facilities. Beacon Community College and Grove Park Special School will share sites following the announcement by East Sussex Council. Under the scheme sixth formers from Beacon will move out of its Beeches site to another base where over-16s from Grove Park will also have new accommodation. Meanwhile 11 to 16-year-olds from both schools will be located on the Beeches site. Beeches will also have new dining accommodation, a youth centre, sports facilities and dance and drama facilities which both schools will share. There will also be specialist facilities for youngsters with autistic spectrum disorder from Grove Park as well as an outreach ASD facility for local schools Both schools will keep their separate status but it is expected that combining resources and expertise will create a more flexible curriculum and a richer environment.
Kent and Sussex Courier, November 18, 2005

The way children with special needs are educated must be overhauled a commission set up by the Conservatives said today. The report called for a moratorium on the closure of special schools and an urgent review of the entire system for teaching children with learning difficulties in England. The Commission recommended an end to the current process of 'statementing' by which council's record a child's needs after assessing their condition. The commissions interim findings recommended a new system replacing statements with 'special needs profiles' drawn up by accredited assessors. Pupils would be allocated extra money for their education and could take the funds either to a special school for children with special needs or to a mainstream school.
PA News Wire, November 29, 2005


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December

Revised plans to build two special schools in Grays,Thurrock, have been revealed. Under new proposals put forward by Thurrock Council, the Treetops and Beacon Hill Special Schools will be built on the existing Gateway Community College Site, on Buxton Road. The Council's education department has hastily put together the plans after councillors vetoed their original proposals which would have seen the two schools built on greenbelt land next to the Gateway's north site.
Thurrock Gazette, December 2, 2005

A head teacher has launched a stinging attack on the Government's policy of sending special needs pupils to mainstream schools. Paul Whelan, head teacher of Cedar Hall School, Thundersley, spoke out after the school's financial plight was raised in the House of Commons. Mr. Whelan revealed that most children now joining the school were aged about ten years old and had endured years of unhappiness at a mainstream school under the Government's inclusion policy. He claims that before joining Cedar Hall his pupils had been bullied by their peers for operating at a level younger than others in the class, shunned by classmates for not fitting in, forced into disruptive behaviour out of frustration and left with little confidence or self-esteem. He said parents should be offered choice, including a special needs school. 'There is no reason why a child who starts at a special school couldn't later go to mainstream school, but they should not have to suffer in mainstream first.'
Basildon Echo, December 6, 2005

Special needs children are to be moved into mainstream schooling in a massive education shake-up in Liverpool. Councillors today started the process which could see big changes for Ashfield School in Childwall, Meadow Bank in Fazakeley, and Mersey View in Aigburth. The decision follows falling attendance at special schools which the Council says will lead to financial problems and affect standards. It claims facilities in mainstream can deliver a better curriculum. An Ofsted inspection in 1999 recommended a reduction of special schools places in Liverpool but many parents are against the plan.
Liverpool Echo, December 9, 2005

The Observer Newspaper has discovered that children with statements of special educational needs are nine times more likely to be excluded from school than those without statements. Pupils as young as five are regularly sent home for up to 45 days. The Commons Education and Skills Select Committee is investigating provision for children with special needs in schools, focusing on whether they should be taught in mainstream or in special schools. But it has so far failed to address the scandal of exclusions affecting tens of thousands of children a year. Recent figures show two thirds of permanent exclusions involve children with special needs. Information gathered by the Independent Panel for Special Educational Needs (Ipsea) reveals that while exclusions of pupils without special needs have fallen by 579 in the past year, exclusions of those with special needs have risen by 334, 6 per cent.
Observer, December 11, 2005

A charity that campaigns for disability rights has been criticised for failing to meet basic standards of care for disabled students at one of its colleges. Ofsted inspectors said Scope which supports people with cerebral palsy had been too slow to make Beaumont College properly accessible to 78 disabled students. The residential college in Lancaster for 16 to 25-year-olds which aims to help disabled people become independent does not meet the national care standards or Special Educational Needs Disability Act legal requirements. Scope spokesman, Barry Hugill, denied the charity had forfeited the moral authority to criticise others for failing disabled people. He said: 'It's a standard Seventies building with all the problems you get with that. It's not just us. Half the schools and colleges in the country are like this. You don't get changes overnight.' Leadership of the college was rated inadequate but Mr. Hugill said a new principal will turn it around . 'There will not be another report like this,' he said.
Times Educational Supplement, December 16, 2005

Five special schools are facing the axe in another radical shake-up of education in South Tyneside. Council chiefs agreed plans to close all but one of the borough's special schools at a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday. Parents, teachers, governors and staff will have their say on the plans with a statutory consultation period running until March. A new system will be developed to support children through mainstream education. Kathy Rist, from Contact A Family, which represents the needs of families with disabled children in the region said: 'The Government is pushing for inclusion. It is telling local authorities to include children with disabilities in mainstream education but it can not be done overnight. We argue it must be a carefully thought out process with constant parental consultation so they understand what is being offered to their children in terms of realistic educational outcomes.'
Shields Gazette, December 16, 2005


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