Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Segregated education

I'm not feeling that brilliant today to be honest but I felt like talking just a little around education policy today.
Education in the UK is something of a hodge podge between ownership (private, independent and local authority), structures (age ranges, selective or comprehensive admissions), specialisms (arts, IT, sport etc) and so on thanks to considerable parental choice and alternating national and local government ideologies support by pet theories.
One point of considerable and sometimes very bitter controversy is about how children with disabilities should be taught and with many things often their are agendas.
For a long period, certainly going back to the Victorian era in so much that education in general was considered back then if a child didn't fit in well with the school system then it either wasn't educated and maybe placed in some institution or send to a  'special school' such as schools for the blind to learn Braille and a skill.
Since 1945 a system of special schools was established in many authorities to cater for the needs of different groups of disabled people such as those with physical disabilities (70's no longer approved term Physically handicapped), what was then classed as Educational Subnormal (aka a 70's term 'mentally handicapped') and a loose category for what is termed emotional and behavioural needs that from the outset didn't exactly co-relate to prevailing definitions used by medical authorities and other arms of government.
In the 1970's increasingly the model of separate provision was questioned as for the most part the need for special schools for physical disabilities often had more to do   inaccessible buildings,  deliberate exclusion from any kind of pe never mind not in many instances being prepared and entered for regular national examinations in everyday school subjects.
Because you maybe lost a limbs function doesn't mean you lost your brain!
Equally it could be argued that differences in intelligence span are part of the human condition and that comprehensive intakes were supposed to take account of.
Not unsurprisingly the combination of opponents to special provision and those who often saw the budgets including the transportation budgets as money that could be better spent meant many schools were either shut down or had their categories for admission altered.
One area of considerable discussion is around the handling of children who exhibit behavioural and emotional difficulties as increasingly reports came out suggesting that the trend toward integration with such children in mainstream schools was causing difficulties when it came to holding efficient classes with incidents breaking out and high levels of support by classroom assistants for such children.
Recently the National Autistic Society has got involved in projects to establish 'free schools' specifically for those with Autism and Aspberger's syndrome one of which will be a few miles away from me in currently redundant 1970's Elementary school building where unlike schools in the 60's thru late 1980's children will follow a standard school curriculum but with a lot of work around understanding and relating to everyday social skills and structures.
It may be step away from total integration but if it helps to realize the gifts those with Autism/Aspberger's have and better enable them to use them in the so-called 'normal' world to everyone's advantage then maybe taking a step back from a theory can be step forward.

No comments: