Hopes and fears: stakeholder views on the transfer of special school resources towards inclusion
This paper reviews the findings and wider policy implications of an evaluation of two pilot projects for the inclusion of disabled pupils from special schools into mainstream settings in a single English education authority. These included (a) paired Partnerships between schools, and (b) the use of special school staff and resources in a Support role within mainstream schools. The focus of the schemes was to promote the inclusion of those children with more complex impairments and health conditions not 'easily' included in mainstream settings. The research investigated the views and experiences of all stakeholders in the process, including pupils, parents, support staff, health professionals, teachers and senior managers. Although there was shared support for the principle of inclusion, there were significant differences of emphasis and concern among the different groups. In this paper, we review the commonalities and differences in these stakeholder views and highlight six key areas for evaluating process and outcome in the inclusion of disabled children. These findings are analysed within the wider context of UK educational policy and the inclusion literature. The paper concludes that although the pilot schemes under consideration had relatively little impact, they highlight a number of important tensions in the debate over inclusion, competition and managerialism in the British schooling system under the New Labour government.
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