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Alarm bells ring

Enabling Inclusion: Blue Skies...Dark Clouds? (Professional excellence in schools) edited by Tim O'Brien 2001
Gary Hornby, Senior Lecturer in SEN, University of Hull:

In a recent review of the research on teacher perceptions of inclusion, Scruggs and Mastropieri (1996) analysed the results of twenty-eight studies published between 1958 and 1995. The major finding was that, although, on average 65 per cent of teachers supported the general concept of inclusion, only 40 per cent of teachers believed that this is a realist goal for most children.. .only 33 per cent of teachers believed that mainstream classroom was the best place for children with disabilities. Only 28 per cent of teachers thought that there was sufficient time to implement inclusion and only 29 per cent thought that they had sufficient expertise. … Croll and Moses (2000) have recently found similar reservations among teachers in the UK.

Tim O’Brien, Lecturer, Institute of Education, University of London

An extensive base of research on inclusion does not exist …. We cannot assume that because someone is included within a mainstream school that this will become a guarantee of successful learning.

Philip Garner, Professor in education, University of Northampton

Underlying this is my belief that to promote inclusion in an era of competition - at every level of education service - is an unforgivable deceit, in that it uses disadvantaged learners, and their teachers, as pawns in a Machiavellian drive to secure power through moral authority….Most crucially it impacts on the educational opportunities and life chances of those who have disabilities and learning difficulties.

…..If, as those most closely involved in inclusion-related teacher education, we say goodbye to the benign, pupil-orientated notion of Mr Chips, it is all bound to end in tears. Above all else we should not be side-tracked down a blind alley of debating fatuous, pious and ultimately discriminating terminologies — however benign they might sound. What are needed, on the ground are actions not words.

Charles Gains Formerly editor of ‘Support for Learning’

In order to show political correctness, countless thousands of children representing the vast range of learning difficulties are being ‘shoe-horned’ into mainstream schools with little or no help. The chemical crutch of Ritalin is a case in point. The ill-conceived and largely indiscriminate use of this drug is driven in good part by a desire to make some pupils amenable to ‘inclusion’ no matter what long term effects this might have for themselves or anybody else…..

Given all this, I conclude that current pressures to include are externally driven and based largely on political and ideological demands rather than cool and informed consideration. In my opinion, this melange invites disaster.

BBC News 16 December 2009

The National Autistic Society's chief executive, Mark Lever, said: "A great many parents of children and young people with autism have to fight huge battles to get the education support that should be theirs by right, often at considerable emotional and financial expense.
"We hear terrible stories from parents of local authorities flouting the law by ignoring diagnoses, not meeting statutory timescales, failing to write statements properly, and even saying they 'don't do' statements any more.
"It is hardly surprising then that parents have little confidence in the special educational needs system, and they could be forgiven for thinking that this report will do little to change what for them is an often complicated, intimidating, and sometimes infuriating system."

MailOnline Monday June 20 2011

Research by the Sutton Trust found that, when it comes to spending the Pupil Premium, almost three-quarters (73 per cent) of teachers see cutting class sizes as one of their top three priorities.
But perhaps more stark is the finding that hiring more classroom assistants has only a 'very small or no effect' on attainment.
While they can have positive effect on pupils’ attitudes to work, they negatively impact on standards when used as a replacement for teachers.
The number of teaching assistants rocketed under Labour and their rise has continued under the Coalition government, with around 214,000 hired this year so far.

The Independent, 14 July 2011

Dr. Martin Stephen just retired as High Master of St Paul’s School in west London “Lessons from the Future”
“We will stop interpreting the basic human right of equal opportunity as mean that all children must only have the same opportunity.”

The Times Educational Supplement, 5 August 2011

What keeps me awake at night - I trained to teach, not nurse
Anonymous views from education's front line
This week: a primary teacher in Yorkshire
I didn't do that well at school. When I say I didn't do too well, what I mean is that I achieved five GCSE grades at C or above. I passed all the others too, but they consisted of a few Ds, Es ... you know how it goes. I shuffled into a place at sixth-form and managed to scrape one pass out of the experience. My excuse is that I simply wasn't ready to learn. Some people aren't - it took me until my mid-20s to realise I was ready to work at somewhere near the academic level I knew I was capable of. After flirting with the idea of an access course in nursing (but eventually enrolling on the education course) and achieving a degree in education with honours and qualified teacher status, I began to teach. The whole process of becoming a teacher took me five years. A long time, don't you think? Bearing this in mind, I was somewhat surprised to find in my first year that I would be taking on the role of a nurse by administering drugs to a diabetic three times a day - and as and when they were needed - having had no medical training.
I had a meeting with the child's nurse, head teacher, my teaching assistant and parents. It lasted over an hour and was a training session on how to use the child's intravenous insulin, his Bluetooth widget and cannula injection thingy.
I couldn't get my head around the units of insulin required, what to do if the child was hypo, hyper, or just plain hyperactive. I didn't understand what the various pieces of equipment really did, or how to read them in the first place. I struggled with the huge responsibility - and it is huge - of administering the insulin and simply getting it right. The risks involved were colossal: get it wrong and the child could enter some kind of diabetic coma or worse. That never happened, but then again that's not the point.
I had to count the child's calories, measure what he ate and when (which involved sitting with him while he ate lunch to ensure he didn't have something he shouldn't have had) and then enter the information correctly into the Bluetooth thingy.
I can't repeat it enough, but all this without a sniff of a first-aid certificate. I may sound like a whiner to many of you, moaning about my responsibilities as a teacher. But this is the problem: I'm a teacher, not a nurse. I didn't want to administer drugs to a child, and I certainly didn't want that level of responsibility in my NQT year. I'm not convinced I would like it now. Not ever, in fact.
What can one do, though? Is it fair to become a conscientious objector in your own classroom when dealing with the needs of the children you're there to teach? Maybe I should have considered the access course to nursing after all.

The Sunday Times 14 August 2011 Answer the question

For the last two years our nine-year old son has been in a class at his school with a child who has Asperger’s syndrome. This child often hits and kicks other children and the situation seems to be tolerated more than it would be for a child without special needs. Our son has been hit and kicked and even, on one occasion, strangled. …
Name withheld