The best of both worlds? Link schools and partial integration
Special schools developed initially as relatively independent units isolated from the mainstream of education. A growing recognition of the need for students with disabilities to have opportunities to socialise with non-disabled peers, even if much of their education is conducted in a segregated setting, has led to a move to establish links between special and mainstream schools. The link school concept involves the establishment of a working relationship between a special school and a mainstream school, usually for mutual benefit. Partial integration usually refers to part-time attendance by special school students at a mainstream school, and may range from attendance for only one or two sessions a week for extra-curricular activities such as music, art or drama, to several days a week in a regular class. Occasionally, partial integration occurs in the reverse direction, with students from mainstream schools attending a special school for part of a week, where they may have the benefit of some of the facilities set up for specialist activities such as independent living or vocational preparation programmes.