Thursday, 25 September 2014


How far have we come​?


A little over thirty years ago I contributed to the then highly regarded and influential Open University course E241, Special Needs in Education, that was put together by Will Swann, Tony Booth and Patricia Potts. (My own contribution was Unit 8 'The Powers that be', an enquiry into aspects of the political history of special education in England).

At the time, the course was right at the cutting edge of thinking about the inclusion of children considered under the then still new rubric of 'special educational needs'. I did not wholeheartedly agree with every aspect of the thinking of the course team but I was very pleased to be part of what I considered a pretty high-class act, both academically and ethically. I could not of course foresee how how the future would go but the quality of E241 reinforced an impression of the time that the likely direction would be up.

...and now

Now we are where we are, and I am relieved that my day-today existence is longer bound up with the professional and institutional systems supposedly serving children who have 'special educational needs, their parents and those employed to teach them.

Indeed I am so removed that I no longer know what it is actually like in that particular slice of the 'real world'.

So what is it like now? Thirty years on everything costs a whole lot more, not least because of all the new jobs that have been created in order to 'support'. Where has it all lead, those high ideals and that hard analysis?

This week the ­Special Needs Jungle has recommended an article to wider attention, not I guess something that it does lightly. Does this really paint a fair picture of SEN England 2014? It is written by an anonymous assistant headteacher in a school for pupils with 'learning difficulties'.

Read it yourself. It will not take you long:

Introducing this article, Tania Tirraoro, the Editor of Special Needs Jungle, sums up what she herself understands by inclusion –
...for me, it’s about being in the right school for the child’s needs, whatever kind of school that is.

So there you are folks, that's all right then. In the best of all possible worlds, anything goes. We have come a long way.

If this really how things are now? If so, I do hope that Conductive Education has the strength to buck the trend.


– (2014) Inclusion? Specially Teaching, 20 September

Sutton, A. (1982) The Powers that be (E241/8), Milton Keynes, Open University Press

Tirraoro, T. (2014) What inclusion really means…, Special Needs Jungle, 22 September

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Anonymous Andrew Sutton said...

Comment by Emma McDowell:

Friday, 26 September 2014 at 22:29:00 BST  

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