Q. Inclusion is a key priority within Scottish education. What do you understand the concept of ‘an inclusive school’ to involve, and what are its implications for you as an individual teacher?
Since the introduction of the 1974 Education (Mentally Handicapped Children) (Scotland) Act, the legal right of all children to an education, no matter what their disability, has been a key priority within Scottish Education. The 1978 Department of Education and Science Warnock Report began the modern era of educational inclusion, by introducing the idea of integrating a broader group of children into mainstream schools. This was reinforced by the Scottish Education Department progress report by HM Inspector of Schools, also in 1978, which criticized the withdrawal of children from class for additional support on the grounds of curricular provision. Since the publishing of these reports, they have formed the basis of inclusion nowadays in schools and on a social level, not just in the UK, but also in the USA. The 1989 United Nations conference on the rights of a child asserted that all children have the right to a decent education no matter their disability (articles 28 and 29). The rights of a child have increased rapidly over the past 20 years; for example, the 2004 Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act (which was amended in 2009), introduced the term “Additional Support Needs” (ASN) and introduced new rights for parents and increased rights for children. Inclusion is not just focused on in the UK, in 1994 Salamanca set out an Agreement and Framework for Action, which advocates that all children ought to be taught in a mainstream school, which has an “inclusive orientation”.
Inclusion is defined as “the process by which a school attempts to respond to all pupils as individuals by reconsidering its school organization and provision” (Sebba and Ainscow, 1996). This means that disabled