What the resource is
This video focuses on a panel discussion, lead by Jonathon Dimbleby, on the future of inclusion in schools. Baroness Mary Warnock is introduced as the ‘original architect' of inclusion policy and the debate opens with Jonathon Dimbleby describing her change of mind after 25 years of education policy to remove barriers for disabled children, as concern that this will leave a ‘disastrous legacy'.
Jonathon Dimbleby introduces a panel of experts with a range of backgrounds from special and mainstream schools, Newham local authority, Scope, NASUWT, OFSTED and campaigners for inclusive education, including the Alliance for Inclusive Education and the Council for Disabled Children. The debate considers developments in inclusion, Statementing, teachers and parents' views, resources and the issue of ‘choice'.
The aims of the resource
The video aims to show a range of perspectives on inclusion. It provides a forum for a small group of experts to debate Baroness Warnock's most recent statements about developing practice of inclusion in schools.
Key findings or focus
The focus of the programme is on what is happening in schools as a result of Government initiatives to remove barriers for disabled children. Jonathon Dimbleby opens the discussion with a short overview of people's concerns about the way that the Government is trying to achieve inclusion and how this has lead to doubts about the way disabled children are taught.
Baroness Warnock speaks first, describing her concerns about the children who are not flourishing in mainstream schools, arguing that it was not the principle that was unsound, just the way that it has been implemented. Others disputed this. Andy Rickell from Scope suggests that Baroness Warnock is missing the point by focusing on integration where children are forced into systems that do not change rather than inclusion, which focuses on changing the environment. Ian Morris, an Education Officer from Newham, stated that in his local authority inclusion was working well, arguing that whatever could be done in special schools could also be done in mainstream schools and that children also fail to flourish in special schools.
The debate then opens up, incorporating the views of a special school head teacher (Neil Clark), Philippa Stobbs from the Council for Disabled Children, Chris Woodhead (ex-Chief Inspector of OFSTED), Darren Northcott from the NASUWT and Meinir Rees, Teacher of the Year, 2005.
The discussion ranges from teachers concerns about lack of training and resources for inclusion, to the whole purpose of education. There is agreement that some schools manage to achieve successful inclusion better than others, but disagreement on whether inclusion should be the way forward for all children. Concern is expressed about the statementing process and views differ as to whether this is the best route for securing the right support for children.
The debate is supplemented by short video clips from other Teachers TV programmes. First, Micheline Mason from the Alliance for Inclusive Education and her daughter Lucy are seen explaining why inclusion is important for everyone. Then contrasting experiences of parents who withdrew their son from a mainstream school, and teachers from an inclusive school, provide additional perspectives.
The panel raise some interesting issues as part of the debate. Ian Morris argues that inclusion is ‘evidence free', that there has not been enough investigation into school practice. (Below this article is an extensive range of evidence on the subject that is available on the TTRB.) Awareness by many of the panel of different provision and different interpretation of needs across the country suggests more factors than purely finance. Influences on parental choice were argued by some panel members to be wide ranging.
The message from this programme is that inclusion is a complex issue. Whilst members of the panel agreed and disagreed on the different topics, their views clearly stem from a wish for all children to enjoy and achieve in their education. As Jonathon Dimbleby concludes, "inclusion goes to the heart of what we want for our children in education".
The quality, authority and credibility of the resource
The programme sets out to offer a range of perspectives on inclusion, debating Baroness Warnock's view that we are giving children with SEN a ‘terrible legacy' in the education currently provided for them.
The video focuses on a range of perspectives, from parents, teachers and other education professionals, and inclusion campaigners. All are provided the opportunity to express their views although this is at the invitation of the chair, Jonathon Dimbleby, so it may be that viewers do not hear all available arguments. We only see the views of two disabled people (in a one minute video clip), and only one of these presents a pupil's personal experience. It was interesting that when Chris Woodhead suggested that inclusion was just a utopian idea and that it was not possible for all children to be included in mainstream schools, no mention was made of practice in other countries such as parts of Canada where this does happen, or even in parts of the UK!
The implications for ITE tutors/mentors
This could be used to promote discussion about inclusion, different practices and wider issues about the purpose of education. It could be used after students have had some teaching practice in school, to enable them to compare the video with their own experiences. This might be augmented with the actual videos shown as clips and wider reading of disabled children and adults' views.
The relevance to ITE students
This will provide students with a useful starting point for a debate on inclusion and the complexities of practice. It will also offer them an opportunity to reflect on whose views are received in the public domain and a basis for follow up study on wider perspectives.
Mason, M. (2005 2nd edition) Incurably Human. London: Working Press
Thomas, G. and Vaughan, M. (2004) Inclusive education, readings and reflections, Maidenhead: OU Press
Wilson, C. and Rowen, J. (1999) Whose Voice is it Anyway? London: AIE