DAA News Network

UK: Tory leader accused wanting to segregate disabled children in special schools

Posted 04/5-10 at 11.12

As he left a campaign meeting, David Cameron, the Conservative Party leader, was accused of wanting to block the inclusion of disabled children in mainstream schools by Jonathan Bartley, the father of a disabled child.

Photo of David Cameron with Samuel and Jonathan Bartley

David Cameron with Samuel and Jonathan Bartley

Bartley, who was with his seven-year-old son Samuel, told Cameron, "You are saying you want to reverse the bias towards the inclusion of children in mainstream schools. At the moment there is a bias against inclusion, not a bias for it, as your manifesto says."

Cameron said that he wanted parents to have more choice , whether that meant a special or a mainstream school. He also was going to make it easier for parents to exercise that choice.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/apr/27/david-cameron-schools-special-education

Editorial comment: DAA agrees with Jonathan Bartley. In most parts of the UK it remains difficult for parents to get their disabled children into a mainstream school. By waving the flag of ‘choice', as they do in their manifesto, the Tories will do nothing but stall the fight for inclusive education. This is clearly their intention. For example, Cameron, whose young disabled son Ivan died last year, when asked recently what Parliamentary action he was most proud, said ‘standing up for special schools'.

While the Labour Government says it is committed to inclusive education, the fact that they opted out of Article 24 of the UN Convention, that says, ‘... States Parties shall ensure an inclusive education system at all levels and lifelong learning ...', speaks volumes for their genuine intentions.

It is abundantly clear, that without a strong commitment to and a real push for inclusive education nothing will change. To end educational segregation there needs to be a phased closure of special schools and a shift of resources into mainstream provision. Neither Labour nor the Tories have offered this.

For John Bartley's views on his clash with Cameron, see:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/apr/28/jonathan-bartley-david-cameron-special-needs-schooling

Comments:

Comment added 09/6-10 at 12.07 by: Big Gem (gemmaandbecca@tiscali.org.uk)

As a staunch labour voter I can't believe I agree with DC over this but I think it's more important to have the choice. I would never want to push someone else towards one thing or another. We have a son on the autistic spectrum and he struggles socially in mainstream school and we are pleased to have got him into a local special school which we loved and think will suit him very well. But not everyone would want this and I think the need for choice is paramount.

Comment added 05/5-10 at 02.01 by: Sam Brackenbury (greatbigwheels@yahoo.co.uk)

Inclusive Education is a good thing, but it does not work for everyone, I went to a special school, where the teacher I had pushed us to learn!

I also went to another special school that was rubbish, I ended my school education at a "Roudolf Steiner School." That was run by a group of outdated Hippies with an aversion to anything that was not based in their ludicrous theories of education, so even though I was meant to thrive around non disabled Teenagers, in reality I fell behind and lost interest... By the age of 13 I HATED school!

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