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The Alderson family - Inclusion and the London Marathon
Education cuts, a threat to inclusion
Gerv Leyden - an appreciation
ALLFIE's 25th anniversary:
25 years of inclusive education
Poem - The Sting -
Book Review - "A Very Capitalist Condition"
Sustainability, DfID and inclusion
Legal Question: Cuts to CAMHS
We're delighted that Wandsworth Talking News have very kindly taken over reading Inclusion Now and are producing wonderfully read, high quality recordings for us in mp3 format. We hope to make these available online soon - but as always you will need to subscribe to receive Inclusion Now when it comes out! Please let us know if you would like to subscribe to the audio version.
One of the themes of this edition of Inclusion Now is how funding cuts affect inclusion, whether that's the knock-on effect of cuts to CAMHS on exclusions in the UK or the effect of the economic downturn on inclusion internationally. Let's hope that with disabled people and parents of disabled children working together (see page 12) we can flag up where this is happening and try to turn the tide.
We'll be sending out a survey shortly all about Inclusion Now and our other communications, so please look out for that and let us know what you think. And in other news, we were very interested to see that Inclusion Now has a new reader, Jeremy Corbyn, when our regular contributor Richard Rieser sent in the photograph below! [photo of Jeremy Corbyn reading Inclusion Now]
Richard Alderson is the parent of Rebecca, a disabled student, and is running the London Marathon in April 2016 in support of ALLFIE. We asked Richard to tell us more about his family and why he feels so strongly about the importance of inclusive education.
Tell us something about the Alderson family and particularly Rebecca.
“The Alderson family is quite close. Apart from Rebecca, there’s Mam, Alison; Dad, Richard; sister, Sarah; brother-in-law, Jordan; and grandparents Anne and Norman. Mam stays at home and lounges around. She watches all the soaps, Jeremy Kyle and messes around on eBay. Sarah works for only half the year as a teaching assistant and spends the other half shopping. Both grandparents are retired so it falls upon the two hard working men of the family to provide an income and stability for everyone else.
“With all seriousness, Rebecca has quadriplegic cerebral palsy and cannot walk and talk. She can communicate but in a limited and customised manner, which can only be understood by those close to her. Mam stays home and is constantly on call for Rebecca. Alison is an excellent organiser, she needs to be! The house is a constant circus, with carers, therapists, social workers, family, friends and others. Alison tends to all their needs and does it all with a smile on her face (mostly)!
“Dad works shifts at Nissan at Sunderland. Dad is essentially a part-time carer, doing the bulk of the driving, lifting and general maintenance. Sarah and Jordan, the newly-weds, live just down the road and practically live here too (meant in a nice way). Anne and Norman, the in-laws, also live just down the road and spend a lot of time here too!
“All of these people are easily worth their weight in gold. Except dad, who would be measured in platinum!”
Why do you think it has been important for Rebecca to be included in mainstream education?
“Simply put, it is important that Rebecca be included in mainstream education because at the end of the day, she is part of mainstream society. If others are suggesting otherwise, would they be willing to drive the trains to the concentration camps? Am I exaggerating, perhaps, but they’re still discriminating.”
What have been the challenges?
“The challenges have been many. Surprisingly, the people with the least amount of issues with Rebecca attending school have been her peers.
“The council has been the most difficult to deal with. The council have always been happy to play on problems and then claim that more money is needed and so prove their case that mainstream is not/has not been appropriate. At one point they were stating that one of the schools was going to have to have an extension built onto it, so that Rebecca would have some toileting facilities. In the end, a small store room was converted and a changing bed provided!
“The NHS specialists, such as Physiotherapists, Speech & Language therapists and others all exaggerated problems so as to make a point about excessive expense. Equipment was provided that was unnecessary and a lot of items that were, were grossly overpriced. We had equipment provided that we were told was essential and then the therapists argued that they only had to advise on its use and not actually use it! This was called ‘indirect therapy’!!?
“Essentially, it has been the authorities themselves wasting money and resources, whilst blaming Rebecca for it.”
What do you think has changed in the last eighteen years in terms of disabled young people accessing mainstream education - do you think things have got better or worse?
“We think that there has been a combination of issues about disabled people in mainstream. The most obvious has been the austerity measures that have come into effect. As usual, the most vulnerable people in society suffer first. It’s easy to pick on those who can’t fight back!
“The next most relevant issue would be the ‘league tables’. If people cannot partake in education in the traditional way, this will have an effect on the educational establishment’s results and status in the rankings, which in turn can affect the funding of the school and also the careers of the staff. Because of these reasons, there is a reticence for educators to take part in inclusive education.”
Rebecca is 18 now, what are her plans when she leaves school next year?
“Hopefully, Rebecca has a boyfriend that we haven’t been told about and they will secretly elope and we will receive a postcard from some distant land, telling us how we don’t understand her and how she has to make her own way in the world.
“Seriously, Rebecca is transitioning to Bede College in Sunderland. Bede is an enhanced mainstream college for both able and disabled pupils. At the minute she seems to like it and until she says otherwise that’s the way things are going. She will be there for a couple of years.
“After that, although things are a little hazy, plans are being made for Rebecca to volunteer at the local church centre and school.”
What advice would you give to other parents of disabled young people who are starting out on the inclusion journey?
“Don’t give up and believe in their children. Children constantly surprise and will often surpass all expectations. They just need the opportunity to do so. As a parent, it is your duty to open doors; it’s up to the children to step through.”
Richard you're going to run the London Marathon. How's the training going? How can people sponsor you?
“The training is never as good as you hope, as any athlete at any standard will tell you. At my age (45), injury is a constant worry, the distances seem longer and the time taken to recover gets longer too. Lots of stretching and cold baths are a big help!
“For sponsorship, I would appreciate it if all monies were directed to the ALLFIE MyDonate page; this will make things easier and more efficient for everyone.”
Lastly a word or two from Rebecca….
“Rebecca communicates by her own custom signs, so I’m taking the liberty of answering for her. She likes to go school for the ‘crack’. She does like to learn things, but gossip is her highest priority, which sometimes annoys the teachers. She also likes the ‘Gigabyte’, the school café. I’m sure she could tell you more, but I’m her dad, so I’m boring.”Interview by Tara Flood
In late 2015, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills (OFSTED) published a public consultation on inspecting local arrangements for coordinating services for disabled children and young people (including those with SEN). CQC and OFSTED will inspect all local areas over five years.
The impetus for change comes from the Children and Families Act 2014 which gives local authorities, health commissioners and providers new duties to work with local early years settings, schools and the post-16 further education sector, to identify and meet the needs of disabled children and young people and those with SEN aged 0 to 25. The first joint inspections start in May 2016.
The consultation consisted of four proposals for how CQC/OFSTED will jointly evaluate how well the local area are undertaking their responsibilities to:
- identify children and young people with SEND
- meet the needs and improve the outcomes of disabled children and young people with SEND
- use information sources in contributing towards the identification and meeting of disabled children and young people's needs with the goal of achieving good outcomes for them.
CQC and OFSTED also asked for feedback on their proposals to consult disabled children and young people.
ALLFIE's position is that inspections must focus on inclusivity of provision. There was nothing in the proposals we disagreed with, but there were key gaps in the proposed framework. If its stated aim is to inspect the effectiveness of local authorities (LAs) and clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) in providing services for children & young people with SEND, as outlined in the Children and Families Act, then the starting point for inspections must be the 'presumption of mainstream education' principle set out in the Act and its Code of Practice, not to mention the duties statutory agencies have under the Equality Act 2010 and the obligations the Government has under Article 24 of the UNCRPD to work towards fully inclusive education.
ALLFIE has suggested a number of practical points inspection teams should include:
- Performance of local services in achieving positive outcomes for disabled children & young people should be based on inclusivity and how they are supported to participate and be included in local communities.
- Examples of positive outcome measures should include quality of participation in mainstream education, inclusivity of extra-curricular, youth, leisure and community activities, inclusivity of local youth parliament and other young peoples' mainstream engagement opportunities.
- Local area strategic plans to coordinate and fund services available in mainstream education before disabled children and young people reach transition points (i.e. primary to secondary).
- LA and CCG commissioned services to demonstrate, with practical examples, how they work collaboratively to support disabled children and young people with a range of support needs in mainstream education.
- Education, Health and Care assessment services should focus on the support required for inclusion of disabled children and young people in mainstream education.
- Levels of effective participation of disabled children and young people and, where appropriate, families in mainstream education.
- Special schools and alternative providers to demonstrate, with practical examples, how they work collaboratively with mainstream education providers towards successful reintegration of disabled children and young people into mainstream education and less reliance on segregated education.
- Inspection reports must focus on improvement in inclusive practice in a local area with the aim of reducing the need for segregated provision.
The consultation deadline was 4th January and ALLFIE will be following up on our suggestions with CQC and OFSTED. For ALLFIE'S full consultation response please go to www.allfie.org.uk/docs/CQC-OFSTED-inspection-response-Dec-2015.doc
In the next five years, school budgets are under unprecedented threat which will impact heavily on the achievement of school students, particularly those with SEND. As 80% of school budgets are spent on staff, the majority of the cuts will be on teaching and support staff.
The Chancellor, George Osborne, in his Autumn Statement, on 25th November 2015, announced he would protect day to day spending per pupil in cash terms over the next five years. This sounds good, but increasing costs and increasing pupil numbers mean that resources per pupil are likely to fall significantly by 7.5%. This contrasts with the previous five years, under the Coalition government, in which spending rose by 3% and even after increases in pupil numbers ended, spending per pupil was up 0.6% in real terms. (Institute of Fiscal Studies http://www.ifs.org.uk/publications/8027)
The Chancellor said a new 'National Funding Formula' would be introduced from 2017, with consultations due to start in the new year with Education Secretary Nicky Morgan. The new system will include a new "national rate", but will also feature grants for schools with a high proportion of children from disadvantaged backgrounds. In practice, this is redistributing funding from urban areas such as London, Birmingham, Manchester, Bradford, Liverpool and Leeds to rural areas and pockets of poverty in coastal towns. It means 12% or more cuts to school budgets in these areas, devastating SEND provision and creating massive cuts in staffing. Historically urban, predominantly Labour local authorities, have chosen to spend more on funding schools than Tory shire counties. Past cuts, 1982/1984 of 4% and 1994/ 1996 of 3%, were slowly restored by the New Labour Government 1997-2010. Schools have not faced cuts of this magnitude in the last 70 years.
The introduction of academies which are directly funded by Government has led to a new funding system, a Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) distributed by local authorities in consultation with school forums to maintained schools and via the School Funding Agency to academies based on local authority funding. This has three elements - Early Years Block, Schools Block and the Higher Needs Block. The Schools Block gives per pupil funding; this varies from the historic funding and has been topped up by a Government formula for low spending areas in 2015/2016 and 2016/2017. The School Block also contains a further notional £6000 per pupil for those with SEND on School Support. The Higher Needs Block provides for SEND expenditure above £10,000 per child and contains a local authority element e.g. for administration and Education Psychologists. Currently there is wide variation in how this is determined and the Government wants to bring this block into the National Funding formula from 2017.
The Higher Needs Block is based on many individual decisions on provision made by local authorities and the tribunal in SEN Statements or Education, Health and Care Plans. How much is spent on sending pupils with SEND to special schools and special schools outside the local authority area depends how good the mainstream schools are at successfully including pupils with high level needs.
There is clearly a strong case for increasing funding for the lowest funded authorities, as argued by F40 (the Campaign for Fairer Funding in Education) representing the lowest funded local authorities. They have been successful in getting top-up funding. However there are major problems in moving to one national funding formula. F40 and the Government argue the ten best funded areas of England receive average School Block funding of £6,300 per pupil this year, compared to an average of £4,200 in the ten worst funded areas. The extra costs of employing teachers in London and the South East results in the payment of the London Allowance - Inner (£5,575), Outer (£4,529) and Fringe (£1,038). This is not currently in the draft proposals. Without this being added to the funding formula this will be either a forced wage cut or job cuts in lieu of no funding for London Allowance. There is a growing teacher shortage even with the allowance, as housing costs rocket.
The present proposals would mean a massive redistribution away from urban and inner city authorities to the lower funded authorities, based on a single national formula of primary or secondary pupils, which will include the Higher Needs Block. F40 are putting forward that over a three year period this formula should be introduced and the Government seems to agree. The resulting total amount of reduction has been spelt out.
Wakefield and Hampshire are two of the F40 local authorities and they too are taking substantial cuts.
Nearly all local authorities are in a reduction situation as a result of the combination of the new formula, budget cuts and the phasing out of the Education Support Grant, which pays local authorities for advisers and many of their other functions. Academies get a £100,000 payment in lieu of this and therefore by 2017 stand to lose this. This will be in addition to reductions in budget and the formula. So academies are in a worse budgetary position.
So what can be done?
All school staff, governors, headteachers and parents need to be made aware of this very grave threat to schools and their pupils and build joint campaigns against the cuts.
Parents of disabled pupils and those with SEN should organise on a school and local authority basis to understand and oppose the additional impact the cuts will have on Higher Needs Funding. Make sure the provision for your child's SEN is specified and quantified in their Statement or EHC Plan.
All school staff and parents need to write to their MPs arguing to maintain existing funding levels, while bringing low funded areas up to similar levels of funding, taking account of extra costs such as London Allowance, Deprivation and Special Educational Needs.
The Government said it would consult this Spring, but has put this back because of its fears about the impact on local elections. Write to Nicky Morgan demanding a full consultation now.
You can download the full table here.
There are some people you don't forget and Gerv was one of those…
We run training days all across the UK and often work with educational psychologists. In the course of such a day, we inevitably end up having a conversation with someone who, when hearing we come from Nottingham, asks if we knew - 'Gerv Leyden'.
Turns out this person did, often decades before. They remember him as their tutor and always have gratitude for his influence on their professional development. That influence will often have been to do with Gerv's sensitivity to people's individual stories, his quiet disdain for the process of 'testing' as a way of trying to understand children; often his irreverent sense of humour and lack of preciousness about all things 'professional' will be the memory. For these people, and I'm sure we will meet many more of them, it's clear a little of Gerv went a long way…
But beyond this, the inclusive education movement in the UK has a lot to thank Gerv for. Notably, he was instrumental in bringing the leading players from the North American inclusion movement to teach in the UK. Workshops on person centred planning, led by Marsha Forest and Jack Pearpoint (personal friends of Gerv's since he turned up one day on their doorstep in Toronto), were held in Nottingham twenty years before the person-centred notion found its way into England's recent national legislation, and before the word 'inclusion' had any common currency.
Gerv's historical understanding of the field of special education was far greater than ours was. He had a passion for unearthing the detail of UK special needs policy and its actions right back to the 1940s. He knew where we had come from to be where we are today. He had come from there himself. This long view wasn't always encouraging to the inclusion movement. But Gerv, whilst often admitting an honest intellectual pessimism about the near future, never lost the will to do more.
He was no naive idealist when judging how hard the task of promoting educational inclusion looked, but these judgements did not dent his vision that better, much better, was possible and needed to be dreamt of. Gerv's was a quiet voice for inclusion.
Friend, colleague, and comrade - a life well lived and so remembered…
Derek Wilson and Colin Newton
ALLFIE has responded to the document, warmly welcoming the renewed and clear commitment to inclusive education. We have stated that the draft General Comment on the Right to Inclusive Education needs to remain clear and true to the tone and spirit of Article 24, and if it does it will set the trajectory for change firmly in the direction of a strengthened global commitment to inclusive education for ALL learners whatever their learning difference, style or ability.
ALLFIE's response has been co-signed by the Reclaiming Our Futures Alliance, Equal Lives, DPAC, Inclusion London and the Disability Research Network – see ALLFIE website for full response – www.allfie.org.uk. The final General Comment will be published later in the spring. This is such good news and a great way to start 2016!
In November ALLFIE celebrated 25 years of campaigning for inclusive education. At the celebration, participants were asked to add their thoughts to an infographic on the history of inclusion over the last 25 years. Here are some of the things they wrote.
"We are Inclusion Champs."
"I want you to keep fighting to end segregation! Love to my ALLFIE comrades!"
"Watching "The Old School Ties" was a lightbulb moment which led to Parents for Inclusion and ALLFIE becoming allies."
"I have learnt a lot today that I didn't know already. Thank you."
"25 years of struggle. Not another 25 years of more struggle for inclusive education."
"It is up to people to mobilise and create networks in local/wider communities."
"There will be no equality until all our children can play and learn together."
"It doesn't matter who we are, we're all friends at heart."
"25 years of struggle, comradeship, progress. Forward to inclusion in the next 25."
"No turning the clock back by 25 years under Tories!!!"
"25 years on inclusive education is a right and not a struggle!"
"Maintaining inclusion can only happen with strong, committed leadership."
"Inclusion breeds inclusion."
"Inclusive education begins with abolishing our exam system based on non-disabled people's norms and competencies."
"DASL are looking forward to working with ALLFIE and Inclusion Champions."
"Happy 25 years Allfie. Inclusion is possible with limited resources I do believe."
Iyiola Olafimihan and Cornelia Broesskamp talk about the value of Disabled People's Organisations (DPOs) and parents working together.
Breaking the barrier between parents of disabled children and DPOs is one of the primary outcomes ALLFIE is aiming to achieve through the Inclusion Champions project. Historically DPOs have found forging partnerships with parents difficult for a variety of reasons. First and foremost is the fear that involving non-disabled parents in DPO activities and organisations may lead to control and take over by the parents. Secondly many DPOs have been forced into providing services mainly to disabled adults by commissioners thus many don't have contact with disabled children and their families.
If however we want young disabled people to start engaging with DPOs and we understand, as disabled people, that there needs to be a generation of young disabled people who will continue the good fight of campaigning for inclusive education, equality, human rights and social justice, then it is vital to build relationships with parents and recruit them as allies in our work of changing the world.
There are many benefits to developing this partnership:
- Parents learn about the Social Model of Disability and the history of our movement.
- As important stakeholders, parents join DPOs in campaigning for the rights of disabled people including the right to inclusive education.
- DPOs get to understand parents' frustrations about dealing with an oppressive system and empathise with them.
- Parents learn that their children can achieve whatever dreams they have and not be limited by the deficit standpoint which the Medical Model of Disability imposes on us.
- DPOs acquire understanding, skills and knowledge around working with children and families, putting them in a stronger position to compete with 'traditional' providers in developing services to support families and disabled children and young people that reflect our culture of real person-centredness and social and educational inclusion.
Over the year ALLFIE has developed good working partnerships with parents of disabled learners. Together, but with our leadership, we have been able to campaign for inclusive education in the mainstream and achieve success at different levels and at various times. There is still a long way to go, but we want to share this experience with other DPOs. So as part of the Inclusion Champions project, ALLFIE has organised a training programme focused on parent/DPO partnership. We have been working with Cornelia Broesskamp to develop and co-deliver this training with me, to a group of DPOs, many of whom have not worked with parents of disabled children/young people before.
The training has been a unique experience and the model of delivery (disabled person and parent) demonstrated partnership working and what is possible if both parties can start learning about each other and understand each other. The feedback we have received at the end of the training has been very positive and the DPOs represented agreed that working with and involving parents is no longer a choice but a necessity if we are to develop a politically aware and active generation of disabled young people who will be the future leaders in our organisations and society.
From my own personal experience, I wish my parents knew what I know now: they were good parents and parented me within their understanding of parenting, but connecting to a DPO or knowing about rights, social justice and inclusion could have facilitated or even started a movement for inclusion in Nigeria. For example, due to the lack of accessible universities, they encouraged me to study law at a university close to home, rather than my preferred subject, fine art, only available at one further away. Instead they could have campaigned for accessible facilities at all universities. Such a movement could by now have been close to achieving rights and justice for millions of Nigerians.
A hymn to disabled people and their organisations – Cornelia Broesskamp
Parenting is a tricky business at the best of times – finding one's way through ones' own wishes and dreams, the child's needs and unique and unpredictable ways of being in the world, society's demands and expectations of parents and children, as well as keeping bread on the table and a roof over the head asks for a clear head, good health (enough sleep!!) and - good support. Trying to be a good – or at least good enough - parent for a disabled young person poses additional challenges, particularly when disability is not a personal experience.
There is no question in my mind that my colleagues at Parents for Inclusion and the Alliance for Inclusive Education have been invaluable in finding my way as a parent over the last 20 years. The support gained from other parents is probably obvious to most people, the support gained from collaboration with disabled people and one of their organisations less so.
I have been very lucky over the last almost two decades to meet, listen to and learn from many disabled trainers and campaigners; I have also been listened to, helped to find solutions, given excellent information and received support when asked for around my son's education.
In fact - I just cannot imagine parenting over the last two decades without disabled friends and allies by my side! What has been so special about this relationship? What has made the difference? Why would I not have wanted to be without? And why do I recommend to parents working closely with disabled people and their organisations?
I will summarise what disabled people as allies have given and continue to give me, my children and family to illustrate my five star recommendation:
- An implicit belief in my disabled child's value and his right to belong to his local community. Here are people who do not patronise my son and who model 100% acceptance to me.
- I was offered a language to speak about the bad, the ugly and the painful of oppression and discrimination, and offered extremely useful concepts which helped to work out solutions to many of the problems we as a family encountered. Yes, I learnt about the medical and social models of disability. And yes, they do help to analyse why certain approaches to my son's support don't or do work.
- I have found a wealth of knowhow on making inclusive education and an ordinary life real - ideas, strategies, examples, details to consider. Plus the ever important information on rights, legal frameworks and how to argue and work with those to make sure my child's rights are respected and realised.
- Understanding advocating for my son's rights as part of a bigger picture of the struggle of disabled people for equal rights helped enormously to keep a perspective on our individual situation, particularly when advocating turned into a struggle with the local authority. It doesn't take long before one finds oneself in the corner of 'demanding and difficult parent'. And the situation gets very scary indeed when people who do not know your child and do not share your values threaten to use their power to make decisions over your child, decisions that you do not at all agree with.
- I found a vision, a north star to work towards: the vision of an inclusive society is a BIG and far reaching vision which looks beyond disability. I have found it very exciting to become part of a bigger movement - thinking and working out how this vision could be realised.
- With acceptance, concepts and vision in place as the foundations I could grasp what person centred planning truly is about and begin to actively facilitate such processes with my son. I also learnt to appreciate the innovation of Direct Payments as a way to strengthen a disabled person's self-determination.
- And I have been filled with hope by knowing that DPOs exist and disabled people use political power and influence to claim their rights – and implicitly represent my son too.
- And I gained a new role: an ally. An ally to my son and to disabled people and their movement for equal rights and self-determination.
Here is an open invitation to all: becoming an ally to disabled people is not a privilege of a parent at all!
If I was to sum up what my son gained and how his education benefited from my connection with ALLFIE I would say this:
- Access to a 'broad and balanced' curriculum (it actually was)
- Enjoyment of learning of subjects of his choice
- An unquestioned right to be part of ordinary life
- A gut understanding of situations which work and which do not work for him, what is the right support
- He gives the direction of where his life is going
- Friends and community.
My sister and brother were told I don't exist.
I am in that locked up cupboard
the flesh slowly eaten off the bones.
Their buried questions
taped up enquiry.
I met them but I still don't exist
their shame is carried into their empty night
I came from that encounter without my severed limb
its phantom still hurts.
I go to see them in my dreams as
a swarm of bees stinging them awake
stinging you all awake
plaguing until you tear your body apart.
I am a swarm of bees
sweet with honey
I can kill or sustain
Such is my power
To destroy me, is to destroy life.
Maresa is a writer, educator and observer whose collection of poetry, essays and occasional writing Taking The Time has been published by Inclusive Solutions.
"A Very Capitalist Condition:
A history and politics of disability"
ISBN : 9781910885017
Any book that includes a quote from a Clash song gets my approval! The author sets the context for the book in Chapter 2 and describes the situation for disability under the recent Coalition Government as "free market human rights" (a term coined by Marta Russell). Their misappropriation of the term "nothing about us, without us" to frame and justify the cuts and privatisation of the NHS is truly 'turning rebellion into money' (White Man in Hammersmith Palais by the Clash).
This book is a very honest account of disability from a Marxist perspective. This shouldn't put anybody off reading it as Roddy Slorach provides an objective critique of a variety of views on disability. Chapter 3: The Social Model and its Critics exemplifies this. The book builds on previous accounts of the history of disability but goes into much greater depth on how it emerged as a condition with the rise of capitalism. Slorach challenges the myth that discrimination based on impairment is a 'permanent feature of human society'. He argues that discrimination did not exist before the emergence of class society and very likely before the rise of capitalist society. This reviewer's historical knowledge cannot confirm or challenge this view but the analysis provides food for thought.
Slorach argues that the rise of disability (Chapter 6), as a specific form of discrimination as we know it today, has its roots in the agrarian and industrial revolutions. The displacement of rural communities from villages to towns following enclosures and the development of industrial production created impairment and disease which became disability through the exclusion of people who could not work and produce profits in the factories and mills. The Factory Acts and Poor Laws introduced segregation for disabled people from society: "The 18th and 19th centuries saw the development of new institutions such as workhouses and special schools".
In the following chapters, Slorach examines the rise of eugenics and the Nazi genocide. The eugenics debate does not divide along traditional left/right lines. Many eugenicists came from the liberal and socialist left traditions. This should be no surprise to campaigners against assisted dying today but it is useful to understand the roots of this in order to fight it.
The second half of the book examines the rise of the disability movement and contemporary issues. This is the weaker part of the book as the analysis of the history of the disability movement and current struggles is not as well researched and evidenced as what has gone before. The global disability movement has transformed the world for disabled people, yet this occupies less than 30 pages of the 275. Having said that, for those new to disability politics this is a reasonable summary of our history. Inclusion and segregation in education is contained in chapter 12 entitled - Some Controversies. The section on Education and Special Needs fails to mention the UN Convention or Article 24 on inclusive education. This is driving positive changes for disabled children globally (although ironically not in the UK) so it seems a strange omission.
The conclusion of the book poses the age old question 'reform or revolution'. I am not sure this dichotomy is helpful to new or older generations of disability activists and allies. However, the book does enrich our understanding of disability and for that I recommend it.
Mark Harrison, CEO, Equal Lives
September 2015 saw the culmination of a huge international consultation followed by great diplomatic efforts on the future of our planet and the people who live on it. The result is the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Unlike their predecessors the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which did not mention disability, there are 11 mentions of disability in the SDGs. The MDGs did lead, until the world economic crisis in 2008/09, to big increases in numbers of children attending school, reductions in absolute poverty and deaths of women in childbirth, but lacked a focus on people with disabilities now generally agreed to comprise 15% of the world's population and growing.
MDG 2 stated that all children should successfully complete primary education. In the 25 years from 1990, when the MDGs were first adopted, to 2015, the number of out of school children was reduced from 140 million to 54 million. In many countries the disproportionate number of girls out of school was reduced, though in Ethiopia, Nigeria, Pakistan and Bangladesh among others the proportion of girls not in education remains massively unequal. As the numbers out of school decreased the proportion of children out of school who had disabilities increased. The main negative social and economic factors involved are cultural prejudices, perceptions that devalue, lack of training of teachers in inclusion, lack of specific support, failure to create accessible schools, curricula and classrooms or failure to build welcoming positive peer support. These factors continue to make it much harder for children with disabilities to be enrolled in school but also more importantly to remain there. There are many millions of young people with disabilities who have dropped out of schooling. A recent study by Plan International of 1.4 million, across 30 countries, found in low and middle income countries children with disabilities are ten times less likely to attend school than their non-disabled peers and are more likely to drop out than any other group.
The new SDG on Education Goal 4 is 'Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all'. Will this change the previous failures? Wording changes need to be part of a full global implementation strategy. However, at least the words are there.
4.5 "By 2030, eliminate gender disparities in education and ensure equal access to all levels of education and vocational training for the vulnerable, including persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples and children in vulnerable situations". And 4.a "Build and upgrade education facilities that are child, disability and gender sensitive and provide safe, non-violent, inclusive and effective learning environments for all."
The UK Government's Department for International Development (DFID) is the largest bilateral donor to basic education, providing over £400 million in 2011 and is also the largest contributor to the Global Partnership For Education (GPE) giving £357 million between 2010 and 2015. In 2014 DFID published its Disability Framework. On 3rd December 2015 DFID held a multi-stakeholder seminar on disability-inclusive development and then launched DFID's Disability Framework 2015. The Government in strong contrast to their 'luke-warm' view of inclusive education in England, commits to the following in its international development policy.
"Education. We will build on progress we have already made on inclusive education by:
- Continuing to ensure that all school building directly funded by DFID adheres to our policy on accessible school construction,
- Working closely with the Global Partnership for Education to ensure they include a specific strategy for children with disabilities as criteria for assessing Education Sector Plans and data on disability in their reporting,
- Collating and disseminating lessons learnt from our disability-focussed education programmes such as Zimbabwe, Pakistan and Tanzania."
The launch was addressed by Justin Greening, Secretary of State, and Baroness Verma, Minister, putting forward a strong message of inclusive disability development policy.
The seminar was addressed by speakers from the UN, Unicef, the World Bank, the International Disability Alliance and various European Development Ministries, and examples were given of good practice in involving disabled people's organisations, from various NGOs that work closely with DFID through the Bond Group. Speakers from Bond, Leonard Cheshire Disability, Handicap International and Action on Disability and Development presented a strong picture of change slowly coming about following on from the adoption, ten years ago, of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. But there was acknowledgment that the biggest issue facing us is how such good practice can be incorporated and sustained to move from NGO initiated small scale projects to country-wide scale.
This all sounds encouraging until it is recognised that the effect of the economic downturn has been that most countries are not honouring the commitments that they have made to fund inclusive education development. This said, these UK and international commitments will make it easier to implement inclusive education in low and middle income countries.
One concern was the lack of representation of DPOs from low and middle income countries. Apparently a DPO rep from Uganda had not been allowed to travel to the UK for the event because of visa problems. But a more serious point is that DFID have chosen that their partners on developing their framework are to be NGOs not DPOs which are run and controlled by disabled people. Although the International Disability Alliance was present at the day, this does not make up for failing to develop strong links with DPOs in low and middle income countries. Nor does it bridge the clear choice made by DFID to not engage on a regular basis with UK Disabled People's Organisations, as required by the UNCRPD.
We heard from Jazz Shaban about Handicap International's 24 inclusive education programmes currently running worldwide. In Kara in northern Togo one of the approaches used to facilitate inclusive education was to introduce 'itinerant teachers'. The project provided mobile, itinerant teachers trained in disability-specific teaching skills. The teachers visit different schools and work with specific students while simultaneously providing ongoing support and advice to mainstream teachers. HI and the Regional Directorate of Education (DRE) in Togo jointly run the scheme. HI have also been involved in national advocacy and teacher training and are currently rolling out inclusive education modules in six teacher training institutes. The impact of this project has been to embed inclusive education in the Education Sector Plan (2014-2016). The Ministry of Education has validated HI's Braille, sign language and inclusive education manuals for use nationwide.
The Sustainable Development Goals and the DFID Framework do suggest a new preparedness to take forward disability inclusion. However, whether they succeed will depend on political will, economic circumstances and a systematic preparedness by state parties to address the many barriers that have historically prevented the full inclusion of disabled children and students in education.
"My teenage child has recently been permanently excluded from school on the grounds of his behaviour whilst on the waiting list for an Education Health and Care Plan assessment and a Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) appointment. He was getting some help from the school's mentoring programme but that has stopped because he is no longer in school. Have the school acted unlawfully and should they have done more to support my child to remain in school?"
There are a number of issues we must look at when considering whether or not the school has acted unlawfully and if they should have done more, which I have set out below.
For a permanent exclusion to be lawful the school must, without delay, notify the parent of it in writing. This should set out that the child has been permanently excluded, the reason for the exclusion and what steps they can take if they do not agree with the decision. The same notification should be sent when a child is given a fixed-term exclusion and it should state how many days the child is excluded for.
If the school does not provide the above written notification to the parent, then the exclusion will be classed as unlawful as the school must follow that formal procedure for an exclusion to be lawful. Therefore if a parent is told that they cannot send their child to the school at all or for only part of the school day, without this formal notification the exclusion will be unlawful.
If you think your child has been unlawfully excluded, you should seek legal advice immediately.
Reason for the Exclusion
Schools should only exclude a child permanently or for a fixed term in accordance with the school's behaviour policy. As far as possible, schools should not permanently exclude pupils with a Statement of SEN or Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP) or Looked After Children, and should do more to try and avoid it. However, schools are not prevented from excluding these children or children who are going through the EHCP process or waiting for a CAMHS appointment.
The reason for the exclusion could be unlawful if the school has discriminated against the child in excluding them, for example because of a disability, race, or because of their religion.
If you think your child has been discriminated against in being excluded from school you should seek legal advice on bringing a discrimination claim.
Education, Health and Care Assessment
Parents, schools, and young people can ask the local authority in writing to carry out an Education, Health and Care Assessment.
The local authority has a duty to consider this request and confirm in writing within 6 weeks of the date they receive the request whether or not they are going to carry out the assessment.
If they decide to carry out the assessment and decide not to issue an EHCP, they must confirm this decision in writing within 16 weeks of the date the request was received. If they decide to issue an EHCP they must do this within 20 weeks of the date the request was received.
If the local authority does not stick to these timeframes and uses a waiting list, they will be acting unlawfully and legal advice should be obtained.
From the sixth day following a permanent exclusion, if the child is of compulsory school age, the local authority must provide suitable full time education. If the child is not receiving this we recommend you seek legal advice immediately.
Samantha is a solicitor with Maxwell Gillott, specialising in education, community care and public law.
Maxwell Gillott specialise in legal advice and assistance for clients facing difficulties with education, health and social services. www.maxwellgillott.co.uk