Disabled children in London are more likely to receive an inclusive education than those being educated anywhere else in England, according to a new report.
The report, by the education consultancy MIME, found that the London borough of Westminster was delivering an education for disabled children that was three-and-a-half times more inclusive than that of Somerset County Council.
But the report also points out that the education system as a whole is becoming less inclusive.
In September, a report by the National Audit Office found the number of pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) who attend segregated special schools or alternative provision rose by more than a fifth between 2014 and 2018.
One of the conclusions reached by MIME in this week’s report was that more deprived areas have relatively smaller numbers of children receiving education, health and care plans (EHCPs*) and lower attainment levels by disabled pupils.
MIME said this could be explained by a lower awareness or ability of parents in deprived areas to lobby for their children through private assessments, tribunals and appeals.
Each local authority area was measured across 12 indicators, including the proportion of SEND pupils that are excluded from school, the percentage of pupils with an EHCP who are being educated in mainstream schools, and the academic progress shown by pupils with an EHCP.
The three local authorities with the highest inclusion scores were Westminster (78 per cent), Barnet (74 per cent) and Kingston upon Thames (72 per cent).
The three areas with the lowest scores were Somerset County Council (22 per cent), Torbay (28 per cent) and Staffordshire (30 per cent).
MIME found that the average inclusion score for outer London councils was 61 per cent, and 59 per cent for inner London.
The next highest was Yorkshire and the Humber, with 52 per cent, followed by east of England, with 51 per cent, the south-east at 46 per cent, and the north-west at 45 per cent.
The four poorest performing regions were the south-west (43 per cent), north-east (43 per cent), East Midlands (43 per cent), and West Midlands (42 per cent).
The report was published as The Alliance for Inclusive Education (ALLFIE) released its general election manifesto.
The manifesto sets out six demands to the next government that, if implemented, would see the country move to a “fully inclusive” education system that supports human rights.
The first demand is for a fully inclusive education system that complies with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, through reforms to the Children and Families Act 2014 and the Equality Act 2010.
It also calls for a joined-up education, health and social care system, with assessments of disabled learners’ needs handled by a body independent of the education provider.
The manifesto also demands a learning environment, curriculum and system of assessment that are inclusive of all disabled learners, and an education workforce that is committed to inclusive education practice.
Michelle Daley (pictured speaking outside the high court earlier this year), ALLFIE’s interim director, said: “Our manifesto is about challenging the deep-rooted systematic discrimination which unfairly locks disabled pupils and students out of mainstream education.”
Meanwhile, a report (PDF) by the human rights and law reform organisation Justice has found that the number of exclusions in England has risen every year since 2012, with their use “disproportionally affecting children with special educational needs and disability as well as those from minority groups”.
The report, by a Justice working party, calls for “wholesale reform” of the system to secure a fairer system with fewer unlawful permanent exclusions.
*Under government reforms which came into effect in September 2014, local authorities in England had until April 2018 to move all disabled children and young people eligible for support from SEN statements to new EHCPs. The plans last from birth to the age of 25 and set out all the support a young person should receive across education, health and social care.
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