INCLUSIVE EDUCATION: LAWS AND POLICIES FOR INCLUSIVE LEARNING
Learning outcome 1: Demonstrate understanding of what is meant by the term Inclusive Education and its relationship to the Warnock commission of 1981.
Inclusive Education is a philosophy which challenges the traditional approach to regard disability and disabled people as an 'after-thought' stating that disability is a part of common experience of humanity. It is the approach which caused a shift that disabled people and people with learning difficulties could enter the world as equals (Brown, 1992). "Inclusion" in education means that it is unlawful to discriminate between on pupils on grounds of race, sex, disability, sexual orientation, gender reassignment etc. Thus all learners have the right to quality education. Under the inclusive model of education, students with special needs or learning difficulties study in the main stream schools along with other children. It differs from the previous concepts of 'Integration' and 'Mainstreaming' which are concerned with disability and special education needs and the implied learners change or become ready for mainstream.
The Education Act 1944 established that children's education should be based on their age, aptitude and ability, describing eleven categories of 'handicap'. The general philosophy at that time was that the child should fit the school rather than the school should fit the child. There they should attend special schools. Underwood Committee report, 1955 recommended provisions better schooling of maladjusted child and mentally challenged children by providing health services at school. Education (Handicapped Children) Act 1970, made provisions for discontinuing the classification of handicapped children as unsuitable for education at school. But most of the educational provisions for disabled children remained segregated.
Special Education Need provision was based on the 1944 Education Act, which called on LEAs to decide a child's need for special treatment and appropriate educational measures i.e. children deemed "ineducable" were sent to special schools. By 1960 this terminology was changed as from 'mentally deficient' and 'feeble minded' to 'educationally sub-normal'. Warnock report "provided a foundation for revolutionary changes in thinking about the educational needs of children with special needs" (Anon, 2004). The report was soon followed by the Education Act of 1981 which prevented any child from being education, regardless of impairment, and strongly supported main streaming and inclusion whenever possible (Kent, 2005). The Disability Discrimination Act of 1995 detailed the comprehensive civil rights of all the disabled people including SEN students. Further the 1996 Education Act provided "a legal framework for the assessment and development of special education provision for children with special education needs".
During 70s a number of laws were passed including Sex discrimination Act, 1975, Race Relations Act, 1976 and Warnock Report in 1978. The Education Act, 1981 incorporated the findings of Warnock Committee. But it was in 1997 when the incoming New Labour government made clear commitment to 'the principle of inclusive education' (DfEE, 1997, p.44) in its Green Paper, Excellence for All Children. The program of action (DfEE, 1998) promised changes in the legislative framework to promote inclusion as well as financial support for inclusion projects. The official documents such as National Curriculum 2000, Respect for All: valuing diversity and challenging racism through the curriculum (QCA, 2004a) and Inclusion: providing effective learning opportunities for all pupils (QCA, 2004b) embedded the concept of inclusion.
Introduction of so many laws in 70s were backed by social and political changes which were taking place in England during that time. The social issues relating to disability, health and social...