Friday, July 07, 2006

Official: Inclusion doesn't work

Left wing educationalists, TES journos, Government Ministers and do-gooders look away now. This will offend you. And if doesn't, it should do.

Inclusion doesn't work.

The original 1978 work into inclusive teaching was a masterstroke of the late 70s socialist government thinking. The idea that all children, regardless of their emotional, physical or educational needs should all be taught in the same school. They should get the same education (and thus, as she called them, life chances) as every other pupil.

But, we are told, whilst they are to be educated together they should be taught differently. Only you can't stream because that's wrong too, so every teacher should differentiate to the whole ability and needs range in one classroom. What absolute nonsense.

The problem is, every child is different (or as the current lexicon has it, every child matters). So when the New Labour government came to power in 1997, socialist thinking came creeping back in and special schools empied their classrooms into mainstream education. Teachers are expected to teach the entire ability range, differentiating where required and adapting to the vast array of behavioural and emotional needs in their class.

New evidence now suggests that children with very special educational needs (SEN) actually suffer from mainstream schools often becoming the victims of bullying and suffering from being taught in larger classes by teachers who are often (myself included) not equipped to deal with their needs.

SEN pupils need priority but a vast majority of the most special cases need to be in special schools to achieve this. You cannot keep throwing these pupils at your common-or-garden classroom teacher and telling them to keep adapting. It doesn't suit the pupils, it doesn't suit the teachers ... and it shouldn't suit the parents.

New Tory Leader David Cameron has made much out of his campaign to maintain Special Schools. He should be congratulated for that stance, but now I want to see him explode the left-wing myth about Inclusion. Real individualised learning means pupils being in the right school at the right time. The vast majority of pupils with EAL, SEN or advanced behavioural problems would benefit outside of mainstream education rather than from being in it.

This is not some rant of a teacher "too lazy" to teach the whole range - as a colleague from another school regularly says about me. I teach to all abilities in my classroom and I keep a safe and disciplined environment in my classroom. It is about meeting the individual needs of each pupil not one-size fits all. If pupils need work on literacy to bring them up to standard, or need help with behavioural management then that should be done outside of the mainstream classroom. Whats wrong with letting the overwhelming hard working majority get on with their work without having their teacher taken away to deal with the needs of the few.

Didn't Tony Blair once say something about the needs of the many outweighing the needs of the few? Well, Special Schools and units will meet the needs of both - both the many in mainstream education and the few in those schools and units. So, come on Tony - I know it is a bit much expecting you to fulfill a pledge in your dying days but this would be a great legacy: denounce inclusion.

Too many inclusion do-gooders with too many excuses I'm afriad.


Anonymous said...

do u have a bebo site too?

Anonymous said...

Bravo for your piece on inclusion. I am in total agreement. I'm wondering if you have any articles/research that show that inclusion does not work.

Terry from the USA

Anonymous said...

Anthony, I work in the U.S. and inclusion has become an excuse to put 30 kids in a class because it has two teachers and they can handle it. It does a real disservice to both the kids on educational plans and regular ed kids alike. It is happening more and more often. Mike in Massachusetts

Anonymous said...

I am an Elementary ESL teacher in the U.S.. Inclusion has taken away the ability to offer direct English language instruction at my school. Children are expected to simply "soak-up" the English language while ESL teachers are reduced to doing nothing more than what in-class volunteer tutors could do ("float" in the classroom and "shadow" kids, giving them quick, improvised English "pointers".
There is not enough time to effectively plan with each classroom teacher, and the environment of the mainstream classroom is certainly not the best environment to learn English. Inclusion + immersion is not the best model for teaching English.

Anonymous said...

See the Wendy Portillo case in Florida. This is why inclusion if applied inequitably is a disservice to the other children in the classroom, the special needs child and the teacher. It is ridiculous to not adequately evaluate and moniter a special needs child. Dropping them into a classroom and telling the teacher to just deal with it is a recipe for disaster. The other children in the class should not have their learning disrupted because of disruptive, distracting behavior. Sadly, the laws don't care about every other child---they care about the special needs child. Who incidentally, is a victim as well. You ought to see the dumping grounds American classrooms have become. It is pathetic and everyone walks around smiling like we are doing something spectacular. It has nothing to do with what your ideologies are regarding government (right or left)....its common sense.

Anonymous said...

Oh! Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!!! I am trying to write my Master's Thesis on something that I know to be true...that pull-out programs for some kids is essential to success. I have been teaching Title I reading to 4th-5th Graders for 13 years. Why isn'there any data out there that proves what...evidently someone besides me believes....if you know of any articles...please let me know...I am getting discouraged!

Anonymous said...

I am a sp. ed. substantially separate classroom teacher and our dept.head is all for inclusion. It doesn't work! When in the reg. class, my students are writing info. just for the sake of writing. Reg. ed. teachers can't slow down the pace because they have to cover a certain amt. of units in a year. The students get nothing out of it but frustration. They are better off in my class where I can teach at a pace that will benefit everyone.

Anonymous said...

Somebody please listen ... I cover a class as a supply teacher which is the perfect example of an 'inclusive class' and every Wednesday I come home feeling traumatised by what I see and hear. Screaming, punching, kicking and trashing the class is a normal event to the 28 well behaved and eager to learn children in the class. They are used to not being able to hear the story read to them or their questions not being answered because the teacher is trying to prevent another child being beaten scratched or abused which often results in them being abused and hit themselves. Each Wednesday I experience not being able to cater for 28 beautifully behaved children for the sake of two included children. One with autism and the other with severe behavioural problems where he trashes the class or hits out at the teachers on a regular basis where the other autistic child might be screaming banging or crying in the background. Has the world gone mad? Where is the debate as to why our mainstream children are not doing as well as the private sector? They are trying and failing to learn because they are NOT in a learning environment. If Joe public knew what traumatic environments children are going to school in they would have a fit. It is impossible to express on here how awful the situation has become in mainstream schools. Somebody please do something that makes sense in the world. Yes I feel sorry for these children but please put them somewhere where they can have their needs met by properly qualified nursing staff. I trained to be a teacher not a mental health specialist !

Anonymous said...

I'm a teacher in Ontario Canada, and I couldn't agree more. Inclusion is like the elephant in the room. I think teachers no deep down it doesn't work but are afraid to state it for fear of being made to feel inadequate at their job. Maybe there is a handful of magical teachers out there who can pull it off and have each individual student make successful progress, but as a supply teacher I have yet to see anything but a "gong" show take place in the classroom. Capable students are doing work at levels that are way below where they could be if things were different.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree, inclusion has failed my child miserably. My learning-disabled child is in a reg. ed. class and he cannot keep up. By the time he catches on to the material, they have moved on. This was a good idea in theory; but it does not meet the needs of disabled children where a special education classroom does because the teacher is specifically trained to teach a child with disabilities. A regular education teacher's degree does not focus on students with disabilities. We need to examine the impact of reg.ed. classes on special ed. students more closely because this "One size fits all" plan is an utter failure.

Anonymous said...

I am a special ed teacher and am in total agreement with these comments. Inclusion does not work!! Will one of you parents please start a petition at I'll help you write it, or you can just take the comments from the folks here and put together a petition.Petitions work!! Thanks from a Florida educator...