In the second article of our series about inclusion, John Browning gives his personal view on inclusion. John is the Chair of Governors at a school for children with learning difficulties and works at SCIL as a Direct Payments Support Worker…..
The debate about whether, or not, to include children with moderate learning difficulties (MLD) in Mainstream Schools is one that has exercised a wide variety of minds. From educational psychologists to parents, from teachers to people who work within the disability movement all have asked if is it better to include these pupils in main stream education or in special education.
One of the reasons this has become such a hot debate is that people in favour of including these children in mainstream schools tend to add a rider to their view. They say that given the appropriate facilities and money to make it viable it would be the appropriate way to educate kids who are currently educated in Special Schools. However such a view could be used to support virtually any point of view. The status quo is what schools have to work with. If the debate is that more money should be made available to make inclusion viable then that is a different position. But until the necessary resources are made available, if ever, it is not an appropriate way to educate those pupils who after all have special, or as I would prefer to call them individual educational needs, I am totally opposed.
I would not wish to see kids with Autism, or one of the other impairments that cause learning difficulty, placed in schools that would cause them to feel different to the others kids with whom they were educated. From past experience it is almost certain that this would result in them being, at best outcast, or worse bullied.
To seek to include children in mainstream schools with the system as it now would create enormous difficulties. It is almost certainly the case that both those with, and without learning difficulties would be disadvantaged by an attempt to educate them all together.
Those children educated in Special Schools benefit from a much lower staff pupil ratio than those in mainstream. Those teachers are specifically trained in providing the appropriate teaching methods to enable young people with learning impairments to achieve their potential in a more conducive environment. In addition all classes have trained learning support assistants.
The truth is that the required level of funding to make inclusion viable is very unlikely ever to be provided, and without it inclusion is not a desirable proposition. Those who support including children with learning impairments in mainstream schools are unlikely ever to see that come about because it would not be a priority for any government.
So the answer to the question, “To include or not to include?” Is that until sufficient funds are made available, inclusion is not viable