The fears of inclusive education campaigners have been borne out after the new coalition government pledged to “remove the bias towards inclusion” in disabled children’s education.
The government programme for the next five years, published by the Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition, also pledges to “prevent the unnecessary closure of special schools”.
The Conservatives openly campaigned on a policy of reversing progress towards the inclusion of disabled children in mainstream schools, while Liberal Democrat support was contained in a policy paper published last year.
The Alliance for Inclusive Education (ALLFIE), which drew attention to the policy paper last week, said it was “outraged” by the announcement, which it said would “turn the clocks back by 30 years” to a time when disabled children grew up living segregated lives.
Simone Aspis, ALLFIE’s campaigns and policy coordinator, said it was an “absolute disgrace” that a coalition that talked about promoting fairness and equality wanted to “remove disabled children’s rights to attend their local mainstream school”.
She said: “A generation of disabled children and their non disabled peers have benefited from mainstream education.
“Research shows that disabled children who attend mainstream schools are more likely to realise their ambitions and have fulfilled lives.”
Andrew Little, chief executive of Inclusion London, also criticised the policy.
He said: “At Inclusion London’s election meeting even the Conservative party candidate at the meeting, himself a disabled person, said he’d wished he’d had the opportunity to go to a mainstream school.”
20 May 2010