Socialist Educational Association Scotland highlights the failures of the SNP Government to make a success of inclusive education in our schools. Over the past 10 years they have failed to plan or fund high-quality inclusive education. The result has been that some children are struggling to be included. Our schools and authorities are facing cuts where they should be supported to invest in inclusive practices.
After 10 years of SNP rule, Scotland has not built upon past successes in inclusion. The SNP have now locked us into a system that doesn’t meet criteria set out internationally or meet the needs of some children and their families. The world has moved on as Scotland stands still.
In September 2017, the United Nations expressed their concerns about the lack of progress with inclusive education in Scotland. Largely unreported by the Scottish media, they were concerned that “the education system is not equipped to respond the requirements for high-quality inclusive education” and “the fact that the education and training of teachers in inclusion competences does not reflect the requirements of inclusive education”. In addition they were concerned with the “persistenceof a dual education system that segregates children with disabilities in special schools”. For the UN it was a human rights issue and Scotland was out of line with the UN’s view on inclusive education (See UNCRPD General Comment No.4).
The UN were clear on their recommendations. The government should “adopt and implement a coherent and adequately financed strategy, with concrete timelines and measurable goals, on increasing and improving inclusive education.”
So pretty clear as far as the United Nations goes regarding the human rights of disabled children. So what do we get? The Government re-issued in a revised format the guidance for presumption of mainstreaming from 2000 and consulted on its presumption of mainstream that falls short on a commitment to inclusive education. The consultation paper lacked any acknowledgement that the UN had concerns and offered no response to the UN recommendations. The General Comment issued in 2016 by the United Nations provides a framework for inclusive education – and you guessed it – this helpful framework was ignored.
It’s as if we have learned nothing in the interim. No reference to Curriculum for Excellence nothing about children’s entitlements within their learning. The SEAS believes that every child is entitled to personal support to help them meet their needs. It’s an aspirational agenda for an inclusive society. The SNP are consulting on three ways to fail. No strategy is offered for inclusive education. At heart of the document no mention of the rights of disabled children to inclusive education and nothing to say about the success in inclusive practices across Scotland.
The SEAS rejects the presumption of failure in the three exemptions approach. We need to implement the United Nations recommendations. Scotland can build on the successes of inclusion. Successes that include the social mix of our inclusive comprehensive schools especially at primary stages, the successes in including and promoting achievement of children from ethnic minorities and the successes in the range of bases units and classes within mainstream schools that assist and promote successful inclusion.
We think Scotland can be a more inclusive society and are schools can be inclusive of all through a strategy to deliver inclusive education that will include all children to attend local schools. international advice and guidance would be helpful drawing on United nations advice and recent guidance from UNESCO on the how of inclusion and equity. It would involve the move by special schools towards being resource centres and support services for inclusive practices as happens in many European countries. It needs to include funding mechanisms that take account of successes in inclusive practices. All of this is best done through well-resourced inclusive comprehensive schools. We need to invest and foster real inclusion rather than reduce staff, cut services and offer excuses and exemptions from inclusive practices and children’s human rights.