Discuss the benefits and challenges of Inclusion of Special Needs children in mainstream education
Special educational needs also referred to as SEN, is a term that is widely used in clinical diagnostic and functional development to enable professionals to differentiate between individuals that require assistance for disabilities and individuals who do not. These disabilities tend to come under the following categories: medical, mental, behavioural or psychological. Inclusion in education is an approach that has been prompted by educational policy since the late 1980’s. ‘The notion of inclusion has become dominate within educational policy as it does not set parameters (as integration once did) yet it has developed a philosophy of acceptance and has provided a framework of equality, whereby irrespective of the cause of the disability every child can be treated with respect and provided with equal opportunities at school’ (Thomas, 1997). The term Inclusion as depicted by Thomas,(1997) argues that an inclusive school is one that accepts all children, regardless of their educational abilities. As well as this it has been articulated that inclusive schools must make it mandatory policy that all children feel involved and belong within their educational environment. Advocators of inclusion believe that if properly implemented, inclusive education is the definitive answer to educating individuals who have a disability (Avramidis, E., & Norwich, B., 2002). Under the SEN 1944 Education Act ‘children with SEN were categorised by their disabilities and were defined in medical terms’. This led to many children being considered as ‘uneducable’ whereby pupils were segregated and labelled as being ‘maladjusted’ or ‘educationally sub-normal’ resulting in ‘special educational treatment’ which occurred in schools that excluded the integration of children who had disabilities and children who did not. By the 1960s, terminology changed from 'mentally deficient' and ‘feeble-minded’ to 'educationally sub-normal,' and an emphasis on mainstreaming SEN students into regular public schools grew (Potts 1995, 399). However a shift in ideology and philosophies regarding disabilities resulted in Acts such as the Education Act 1970 (Handicapped children) being formed, which consequently lead to the start of many Special Schools being built and education being accessible for children with SEN. The Warnock Report was soon followed by the Education Act of 1981, a sweeping legislation regarding education in general, but with significant impact for students with special learning needs (Potts 1995, 398). The definition of SEN broadened considerably, and more children were required to be evaluated for SEN, leading to steady increases in the number of special education students throughout the next two decades (Potts 1995, 398). Importantly, the Act prevented any child from being denied education, regardless of impairment, and strongly supported mainstreaming and inclusion whenever possible (Kent 2005, 29).
One of the criticisms of inclusion is that it focuses on the process of the education rather than the outcome, and on the curriculum of mainstream education rather than the curriculum of SEN (Hornby, 1999). This problem occurs within mainstream schools and is a significant problem as those communication difficulties are commonly present with the classroom. (Law et al. 2000) argued that 10% of children have long-term and persistent speech, language and communication needs (SLCN), and this will require extra support in order to access the curriculum, develop new friendships and for pupils to achieve to the best of their ability. There is also the problem of mainstream teachers being sufficiently trained to identify when these problems occur and when the teachers have identified these issues in what ways can they implement new communicational interaction without causing social segregation between the children in the classroom. As early as 1978,...
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