The British press is reporting on changes in the direction of special education in Great Britain. Mary Warnock, the individual most responsible for promoting inclusionary policies and practices in Britain, has said that the effort to include students with disabilities in mainstream schools has “Has gone too far. It was a sort of bright idea of the 1970s but by now it has become a kind of mantra and it really isn’t working.”
The architect of England’s special needs education system has condemned the way it works, it was reported today. Baroness Warnock reiterated her view that moves to include children with special needs in mainstream schools had proved to be a mistake.
Speaking 20 years after she produced a report which began the drive towards greater inclusion, Lady Warnock said it caused “confusion of which children are the casualties”.
The reversal of directions by Baroness Warnock comes in the context of political pressure on the current (Labor Party) government to end closing of special schools. According to Mike Baker of the BBC:
First, we had the unusual sight of special needs education becoming an election issue. Tony Blair was tackled by a mother who felt her son’s special school was under threat from a government policy, which was tilted in favour of educating children in mainstream schools.
Then the Conservatives picked up the issue of the closure of special schools and have kept pushing it since the election.
Mantra: The important question, in my view, is whether the educational services students are receiving—regardless of where they are receiving them—are effective.
Links to coverage by the Times Educational Supplement, by the Telegraph, and by the BBC: