Education: Children with Learning Difficulties

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Overall Theme: Segregation, integration or inclusion?
Considerations:
-History of special needs in the UK
-Conceptualisation of special needs
-Definitions of integration
-Definitions of inclusion
-Definitions of segregation
-Who should be taught what? Why?
-Purposes of education
-Personal EXP

Within the United Kingdom over the past few decades, the matter of the way in which children with learning difficulties go about being educated has been a significant issue. Essentially, there are three ways in which these children can be provided an education – through segregation, integration or inclusion.

Segregation essentially means that the children who are ‘disabled' are placed in ‘special needs' schools that can supposedly be ‘better suited' for them than ‘normal' schools. Integration for the disabled is quite possibly best described as: ‘a thousand things. It means the absence of segregation. It means social acceptance. It means being able to be treated like everybody else… to be educated up to university level with one's unhandicapped peers' (Snowdon, 1976). However, whilst this description of integration sounds positive, it could be seen that ‘Integration implies a separate population that we are seeking to bring in… Inclusion is based on a planning assumption that everyone is "in" to start with' (Association of Scottish Principal Educational Psychologists) Integration, therefore, is all to do with ‘Maximising the participation of all children in mainstream schools and removing environmental, structural and attitudinal barriers to their participation' (Scottish Executive).

In England, the Warnock Report (1978) and the Education Act (1981) recommended that children with learning difficulties should be integrated into mainstream schools when possible. However, note that it was merely ‘recommended' and not made compulsory. Therefore, Local Education Authorities (LEAs) were encouraged, but not legally required, to implement integration within...
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