Is Inclusion Over?Is Inclusion Over 1

This question was raised by Anita Kerwin-Nye in April 2016 following an alarming recognition that the entitlement to education, for young people with special needs, was under threat:

“Over the years I have had to have many fights on access – can someone with Muscular Dystrophy abseil? Can a learner with Down Syndrome be trusted to do CPR? Can someone with ASD and communication difficulties be the spokesperson for a national speech and language campaign? I’ve had to argue the practicalities of access but I have – rarely and certainly with no significant challenge – had to fight the fundamental principle of inclusion. Until now.” Anita Kerwin-Nye

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Think Meet Do

ThinkMeetDoThe Is Inclusion Over? question resonated with many parents, professionals and teachers with experience of special needs and in October 2016 a group of these came together with the following aims:

  • To gather information on the scale of the potential issue – beyond anecdote into evidence,
  • To identify the schools and organisations that exemplify good practice,
  • To start to create a positive campaign that rewards success as a ‘kitemark’ but also acts as a statement of intent for schools and organisations who are committed to inclusion.

The hashtags #pushedout and #drawnin were used throughout the event to show the mood and highlight the reflections of attendees, and even trended for a short while!

A summary of the Think Meet Do was published in a blog.

“Exclusions are on the rise – in Barnsley and Middlesbrough exclusions rates have risen by as much as 300% in the last three years. The consequences of these rates are clear too. Only 1% of excluded pupils leave school with the skills and qualifications they will require to successfully enter the working world. A child in a Pupil Referral Unit is four times more expensive as one in an ordinary school. The cost of high exclusion rates to the student and to the system are enormous and their number is growing, but does the focus on exclusion lead us to think less about what inclusion means? The Is Inclusion Over? event earlier this week discussed what inclusion should and does mean, and whether it’s a thing of the past.”

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Building the Campaign

Since the Think Meet Do many have been working to further the aims stated at the event. Anita Kerwin-Nye has formed Every Child Should – a campaign to ensure all children can access a rich and rounded set of experiences by the time they are 18. This starts with a year long debate on the skills and resources young adults need to navigate life and on how we ensure these reach the half of a million children in the UK likely to need them the most.

The Drawn In pledge on this website is the next step in growing the movement of likeminded teachers and educationalists who believe children should be drawn in to education, not pushed out.

Those signing up to the pledge are people who recognise that good results are achievable in inclusive schools. People who believe that to exclude pupils, through fear that their individual performance may lower the overall performance of the school, shows low moral purpose and is counter to the aims of the profession of teaching. The pledge is also the beginning of the debate around what would make a suitable kitemark for inclusion.

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Cultural Inclusion, is asking schools, cultural and arts venues and disability organisations to sign up to a manifesto and commit to co-producing better and more opportunities for children and young people with disabilities and SEN to engage with arts and culture.