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Has 'inclusion' had its day as a concept in education?

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Tori_Scope
Tori_Scope Scope Posts: 12,508 Disability Gamechanger
Full article: Has 'inclusion' had its day as a concept in education? (TES)
Current approaches to inclusion are not working for children or teachers, says autistic teacher Laura McConnell
"Inclusion" has become one of the most inflammatory words in education, having evolved to synonymise with behaviour, specifically undesirable behaviour.

The most common themes in any inclusion discourse tend to be negative: underfunding, lack of resources, varying quality and/or availability of training, and lengthy waits to access health services being the most frequently referenced barriers to inclusion, no matter where you are in the UK.
Ahead of the SEND review’s publication, we do know that there is a disparity in the way that SEND is identified in English schools and/or the access children with SEND have to some schools in England.

In a report published in March this year, the Education Policy Institute (EPI) found that pupils in academies were 50 per cent less likely to have SEND identified when compared to similar pupils in state schools.
Many disabled activists think it is the language of inclusion that is the problem. Inclusion emphasises that the child is not part of the group, they are an outsider who should be included.

Including them requires something extra: staff, resources, training, intervention groups. Schools have to adapt their policies and practises for the child to fit in.

What if the focus was on the school, rather than the child? If education was "accessible", then it would be usable by everyone. 

The Council of Ontario Universities explains accessible education as being based on the social model of disability, as opposed to the medical model: disability is a difference instead of a deficiency.

It considers the variety of student characteristics and removes the barriers to learning before they can affect anyone. The curriculum or environment is designed to be used by all, as opposed to access being achieved through special accommodations and/or retrofitting the existing offer.

It is evident from all research published so far that current approaches to inclusion are not working for children or teachers.

Rather than perpetuate a myth that there would be improvements if there were more staff, or if access to health services were faster, the education sector should move onwards towards a system of accessible education – where no child is an outsider.

What do you think? Is the current approach out of date? Is there a better way? 

National Campaigns Officer at Scope, she/her

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