chapter  6
Inclusive practice: the challenge of meeting individual needs
Pages 13

With regard to children identified as 'disabled' the discussions and debates of the 1980s and 1990s often focused on how disabled and non-disabled children could be schooled together. Inclusion was seen as people learning together under the same roof, regardless of weaknesses they may have. The emphasis was on providing support within school to enable children with disabilities to 'cope' in the mainstream. Critics argued that this thinking was patronising (though well intentioned) defining some children as 'ordinary' and 'able' and others as 'disabled' and thus 'not able' (rather than 'differently able'). They suggested that this model of integration resulted in some mainstream teachers seeing 'differently able' pupils as lacking in some essential respect and thus a 'problem' because they didn't fit the stereotype of the ordinary child. A more appropriate model is that inclusive education values all learners as individuals. Support services are provided for the learner in order that they might fulfil their potential. Diversity is celebrated. This approach requires schools to address 'barriers to learning' and create an ethos in which all pupils are seen as unique individuals, to be valued for their differences. This should result in children growing up with less fear and prejudice than previous generations had as a result of segregated provision.