Suffer the little children
Pupils with special needs forced to attend mainstream secondary schools faced a "horror" that could leave them suicidal, claims a peer who helped to bring in the policy, writes Julie Henry.
And parents were left "terrified and exhausted" in their efforts to get proper provision for their children, says Baroness Warnock, in the foreword to a new book, Included or Excluded?
Her hard-hitting criticism of the Government's record comes despite ministers' attempts to rein in the effects of their "inclusion" agenda, which has seen thousands of special needs children sent to mainstream schools.
ouncils have used the policy to close expensive special schools, with nearly 9,000 places lost since 1997.
Baroness Warnock, who two years ago renounced the inclusive approach which she had helped enshrine in the 1981 Education Act, said she was convinced that there were some children, particularly with autism, Asperger's Syndrome, attention disorders and behavioural difficulties, who simply failed to be educated in mainstream schools.
"No adaptation of the school can turn it in to an environment in which such children can learn," she said.
"Such a child may no longer even pretend to keep up, feeling defeated by the inevitable demands of the environment, the bustle and clamour, the pushing and shoving, the rushing from one classroom to another. The tragic result for some children is trauma and even regression.
"A special school may be the only place where a fragile child will learn anything at all."
The baroness went on to say that the parents of special needs children "must laugh" when they read the Government's White Paper on school choice, which she criticised as "intensely confusing".
"For the majority of them there is no choice," she said. "They cannot choose what school their child will go to. They must take a place in any mainstream school willing to accept a difficult pupil. This will probably be the school with the lowest standards."
Of course if you are a Labour Minister you can afford £15,000 to send your dyslexic child to a private school so it isn't really a problem is it? But for the rest of us? Stick your head round the corner of any secondary school and sitting in the corner you will see the poor bloody kid, shunned and shouted at, who struggles to learn anything, just wants to go home or to be dead. Betrayed by trendy theories and economies coinciding.