UK. GOVERNMENT WARNING…Are we going to send your child to mainstream school with out safe guards!!! UK Governments green paper for (SEN) special educational needs. + our response

UK Governments green paper for (SEN) special educational needs. + our response.

Mainstreaming (also called Inclusion or Integration)
Mainstreaming refers to teaching children with special needs in regular classes with other children. Inclusion is a term coined to describe the philosophical argument that children with mental, physical, or emotional handicaps are entitled to an education within the mainstream of public education. Although there are different degrees of inclusion, for the most part, inclusion advocates support the argument that the segregation of children by diagnosis or handicap is not in the best interest of the child. Advocates of “full inclusion” argue that children should be integrated into regular education classrooms at all times.
Teaching autistic children without the benefit of specially-trained teachers and classrooms tailored for such teaching was first attempted as a matter of necessity in small school systems with too few autistic children to make it practical to set up specialised facilities. It was soon observed that autistic children in such situations in general did better than children in tailored classrooms, and the policy of “mainstreaming” was born. Theory has it that separating autistic children from a normal environment just exacerbates their problem. Children with special needs must be educated with as little restriction as necessary and some school systems have responded by placing autistic children (and other children with special needs) in normal classrooms. Arguments for mainstreaming include better role models for autistic children, and increased opportunities for social interaction, and higher expectations by teachers. Arguments against include more opportunity for intense social skills training, more control over structure and routine, crucial factors in the education, training, and everyday lives of many autistic children. In actual practice, few autistic children ever have the opportunity to be educated in classrooms tailored to there needs–the choice is often whether the child is mainstreamed, or in a “general-purpose special-education” classroom mld-sld.

The philosophical position of inclusion is based primarily on two arguments:

I) segregating, children in special classes or programs denies these children access to normal classes or denies these children to access to normal experiences, and

2) segregated services have not resulted in adequate education for handicapped students. While there inclusion sound similar to another movement, mainstreaming, there are important differences.

Mainstreaming handicapped children has typically involved integrating children when the child was able to demonstrate that he/she could successfully participate in the regular planned activities within the regular education class. Inclusion advocates typically argue that mainstreaming efforts have forced the handicapped child to “earn” time in the integrated settings. Inclusion advocates typically support the notion that each child has a right to be included, and that necessary support services and accomidations to the child’s handicap must be made within the regular education classrooms.
While strongly urging and promoting “normalizing” experiences for autistic students, one must also adhere to other important principles. These include individualization, reliance on empirically-based approaches rather than ideologically-based philosophies, and treatment and education that begins with and emphasizes an understanding of the problems of autism.

The elaboration and operationalizing of these principles has led to a network of educational programs in some areas in some countries. Among the options developed, one can find highly structured, intensive specialized classrooms for autistic students, cross-categorical classrooms that serve one or more students with autism, and regular education classrooms that serve one or more children with autism. Often, placement for children with autism involves a combination of educational settings. Individualization, when properly carried out, leads to optimal, unique solutions for each student, based on his/her needs rather than ideology. The heterogeneity one sees in autism requires many options and possibilities, not one solution for all.

1) Recognising the important value of preparing all persons with autism for successful functioning within society. Each person with autism should be taught with the goal of successful functioning with as few restrictions as is possible.

2) Decisions about including children with autism into fully integrated settings must be made consistent with the principal of the “least restrictive environment” as a guiding principal. No person with autism should be unnecessarily or inappropriately denied access to meaningful educational activities. However, it should be noted that the concept of least restrictive environment requires that appropriate learning take place. Placement decisions also require that students be capable of meaningful learning and functioning within the setting selected.

3) Activities which are inclusive for children with autism should be offered based on an individual assessment of the child’s skills and abilities to function and participate in the setting. Inclusion activities are appropriate only when preceded by adequate assessment and pre-placement preparations including appropriate training. Inclusion activities typically need to be supported by professionals trained in autism who can provide assistance and objective evaluation of the appropriateness of the activity.

4) Inclusion should never replace a full continuum of service delivery, with different students with autism falling across the full spectrum. Full inclusion should be offered to all persons with autism who are capable of success in fully integrated settings. Partial inclusion is expected to be appropriate for other clients with autism. And special classes and schools should be retained as an option for those students with autism for whom these settings are the most meaningful and appropriate.

Things to consider

The paper suggests that special needs is a tempory state. Many of our children will have special needs for the whole of their lifetime. Special schools work hard to help children come to terms with their disabilities. The lack of a disabled peer group in a mainstream setting can cause problems, particularly for older children.

There is an assumption that providing a ramp, a special chair and a computer will ebable a child to be educated in a mainstream school.

Will mainstream schools want more children with special needs? They threaten to lower the levels achieved in the league tables and spoil attendance figuires.

Educating a child with special needs is a full-time job and cannot be done effectively by a specialist dropping in to support mainstream teachers on an occasional basis.

Children with low incidence disabilities are often those who need to have the shortest journey time possible. This raises the concern over the idea of regional planning to meet those needs.

Some schools already have difficulty in recruiting specialist staff. Will there be teachers, especially those to teach children with profound and multiple learning difficulties, in a few years time? Specialist knowledge cannot be acquired over a few days of training. There should be initial teaching courses designed especially for teachers who wish to teach children with profound and multiple learning difficulties.

The role of the therapists and the school nurse is vital and the services will be spread very thinly if the children are too.

The lack of anyone representing health on the advisory panel who produced the Green Paper, is of great concern.

In Northamptonshire, only 1% of children are in special schools,

Parents’ preference for special or mainstream is met wherever possible.

Children in special schools do have integration opportunities either go into mainstream schools or to share activities with mainstream children, in the special setting. Integration opportunities are also arranged with the school.

The Green Paper reads not as a consultaion document but as a paper of intent and the questions posed ask how the intentions can be realised.

Inclusion is not just about integration but about allowing a child full access within any setting. We feel that our children are given the best opportunity to be “included” by being in a special school.

Many children need highly structured settings with firm routines to enable them to have the best opportunity of learning, developing their attention, understanding and ability to make choices and to enable them to communicate as effectively as possible.

The pace in mainstream may deny some special children the chance to be fully included in the school. end