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Education for All?

In light of the controversy surrounding the potential closure of residential special schools, Policy and Information Leader Jonathan Tautari outlines why greater inclusiveness in education benefits us all.

How we educate our children helps to determine what our future society will look like. Stopping disabled children from accessing regular classes and schools prevents us from building a cohesive society that includes all people.

Many parents we work with have big aspirations for their children, regardless of any barriers they face. Parents dream of their children finding a valued role in society and living independently. For this reason, most parents would prefer their child attends a regular school.

Unfortunately, we also know that sometimes the level of support is inadequate at regular schools. In these situations, parents often feel there is little choice, but to send their child to a special school or unit. These schools and units are more isolated from the community than regular classes, but offer specialised trained teachers and resources. It is against this background that parents make choices about their child’s education. 

As an organisation, we believe all children benefit from being educated in regular classes, both at the time of schooling and on into later life. At the same time, we fully respect parent choice. When support is inadequate at a regular school, the best option may be to place their child in a special unit or school.

In the long term, we want to see regular classes have access to the same knowledge and resources as special units and schools. I believe that this would mean parents could have the best of both worlds. Their child would have the same opportunities as other children to get a good education in a regular class. Support would be available when the child needs it and they would not have to be in a special unit or school to receive it. Some school are already providing great education to children with special needs in regular classes, others are struggling.

By addressing issues in regular classrooms, we pave the way to better communities. Our challenge is to ensure that we have a mainstream education system that can facilitate children’s lifelong journeys into careers, social and other opportunities of their choosing.

For more on inclusive education check out David Matthew’s blog from two weeks ago.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog post.

Kind Regards
Jonathan Tautari
Policy and Information Leader

3 Responses to “Education for All?”

  1. It really concerns me that the Gov’t seems to think inclusion will simply happen by taking away parental choices. There will always be a place for Special Needs Schools in my view, inclusion only works when it is of benefit to the child and fellow students. Often a few years in a Special Needs Unit or School can set the child up to be better equipped to cope with the mainstream if it’s done gradually. When will these bureaucrats learn that it isn’t all about the cost now? It often gives better value for money further down the line and a chance to be the fence at the bottom of the cliff rather than the ambulance at the bottom.

    • Thanks for your comment Ruth. I fully acknowledge that because some schools lack adequate support, special schools have a role in the education system at the moment. I do not feel that there will always be a place of them though. Special schools are able to offer a good level of support because they receive a good level of resourcing. If regular schools had access to that same level of resourcing, I believe they could offer a better level of support than special schools.
      There appears to have been a bit of misinformation about recent changes to special education. The Government saves no money by transferring resources out of special school into regular schools. The special education budget remains the same. The key difference is support can be provided to more students. I plan to go into more detail about this in a blog in two weeks’ time.

  2. […] Education, Inclusive education, Ongoing Resourcing Scheme (ORS) Policy and Information leader, Jonathan Tautari returns to discuss the recent proposed residential special schools changes and the controversy they have […]

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