Videos showing examples of inclusive education

Posted on December 7, 2021

Forward to Inclusion or ‘Back’ to Segregation: UK Government SEND Review for England

Posted on August 30, 2021

“A whole generation is being let down as there is not sufficient support, or sufficient emphasis on enabling them to achieve their hopes and dreams”
By Richard Rieser, World of Inclusion

In 2019/2020 a number of highly critical reports were published on the UK Government’s approach to education for Disabled children and Young people, and those with Special Educational Needs (SEN). These highlight the extent to which things have got worse under the Conservative government, as well as due to COVID-19. They include:

  1. The Audit Commission report, ‘Support for pupils with special educational needs and disabilities in England’, published September 2019, stated:
    “Some pupils with SEND are receiving high quality support that meets their needs, whether they attend mainstream schools or special schools. However, “the significant concerns that we have identified indicate that many other pupils are not being supported effectively, and that pupils with SEND who do not have EHC plans are particularly exposed. The system for supporting pupils with SEND is not, on current trends, financially sustainable. Many local authorities are failing to live within their high-needs budgets and meet the demand for support. Pressures – such as incentives for mainstream schools to be less inclusive, increased demand for special school places, growing use of independent schools and reductions in per-pupil funding – are making the system less, rather than more, sustainable. The Department needs to act urgently to secure the improvements in quality and sustainability that are needed to achieve value for money.
  2. The Parliamentary Education Select Committee Report on SEND, published in October 2019.
    In 2014, Parliament legislated with the intention of transforming the educational experiences of children and Young people with special educational needs and disabilities. The report makes clear this has not happened:“Let down by failures of implementation, the 2014 reforms have resulted in confusion and at times unlawful practice, bureaucratic nightmares, buck-passing and a lack of accountability, strained resources and adversarial experiences, and ultimately dashed the hopes of many… Implementation has been badly hampered by poor administration and a challenging funding environment in which local authorities and schools have lacked the ability to make transformative change.” (Page 3)The Select Committee argues for:
    – More rigorous inspections and a direct route to enable parents to contact Ministers
    – An easing of restrictions on local authorities’ abilities to establish special schools and resource bases
    – Much greater opportunity for Young Disabled people, such as supported internships and apprenticeships
  3. An article in SEN Jungle in September 2019 warned a further SEND Review risked kicking the issue into the long grass:“Ministers know that the reforms haven’t worked as intended in many areas, and that children with all types of needs are losing out on an education, with long-term consequences for their wellbeing and life-chances. They know that families are struggling and having services withdrawn; they know that more than 8,000 children with SEND have no school place; they know that requests for children to have their needs assessed are routinely refused; they know that local authorities find endless inventive and unlawful ways to put up barriers to children receiving support; and they certainly know that education, health and social care services often simply fail to work together in any meaningful way.”

Lack of Action and COVID-19

Since these publications, there has been no review published. The COVID-19 pandemic has massively impacted on all children’s learning, but especially Disabled children and Young people. COVID-19 has led to a worsened mental state for a majority of Disabled children, according to a survey of the Disabled Children’s Partnership in March 2021, which found that 29% of Disabled children were shielding, and 54% of parents (of 507 responders) felt that their Disabled child had lost confidence over the previous 12 months. This included life skills, such as being out and about (53%), communicating with others (49%), interaction with strangers (47%) and familiar people (38%).

The government has talked about ‘catch-up’ but, as we can see from the reports above, the system was not working well for the majority of Disabled children and their parents before lockdown. Now the review, when it comes in late spring, will need to address building back better for the whole SEND system.


The SEND Review appears to be led by the HM Treasury looking for quick wins to claw back money, rather than providing long-term solutions to the chronic under funding of SEND. There are now 390,109 pupils and students with an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP), (an increase of 10% on 2019 and 62% on 2015), far more than anyone anticipated. Because the system cannot cope with the increased number of pupils with EHCPs, greater numbers are being educated in inappropriate settings.

In the past year there has been a 15% rise in the number of pupils with EHCPs attending independent schools, which are not independent special schools. National Education Union analysis indicates that, in order to address the shortfalls, the ‘High Needs Block’ should be £2.1 billion a year higher (assuming the 2020/21 number of EHCPs were funded at the 2015/16 rate). The government has acknowledged the issue and increased funding, (from £350 million for 2019-20, £780 million for 2020-21, to the announced £730m for 2021-22). But this isn’t enough, given the scale of need. The government needs to increase funding in the planned Comprehensive Spending Review for 2023-24. The COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the financial situation for many schools, who have incurred additional costs. The failure to keep up in real expenditure terms is putting increasing pressure on school budgets (non-ring-fenced), leading to widespread cuts in vital inclusion support, and subsequently impacting the 1.1 million Disabled students on SEND school support.

The NEU Conference at Easter 2021 voted strongly for policies supporting inclusive education, including restoring funding, and was a great day for the NEU, Disabled people, parents of Disabled students and education in general, to achieve unity on such a wide-ranging motion. It highlighted how a range of government policies on curriculum, assessment, privatisation, real-term funding cuts, disproportionate exclusion rates, and failure to implement disability equality duties under the Equalities Act, has meant Disabled children and Young people have been let down by the mainstream school system. When combined with other intersectional identities, for instance class and gender, these outcomes have led to multiple failures. Meanwhile, the growth in local authorities (LAs) placing Disabled children in expensive independent schools is causing a great financial strain on LA budgets. The Conference agreed to, “build a widespread campaign for better treatment of Disabled staff and students and to achieve a well-resourced mainstream inclusive education system, sufficiently funded with trained staff, where all can thrive.”

Demands for when the SEND Review goes out to consultation

We know the money and solutions exist. This is a political issue and we have set out the following demands for the UK Government to implement in the SEND Review:

  1. Full government funding: Meet the growth in students with SEND on EHC Plans and school support – ring fenced so these students benefit directly from the current notional £6000.
  2. Develop government policies in line with Article 24 of UN-CRPD: Explicitly support mainstream schools in developing inclusive education instead of omitting it from policy.
  3. Stop building free special schools: An injection of resources to develop and increase mainstream provision to halt the large increase in placements in special schools, phasing out the use of expensive independent special schools by LAs.
  4. Improve training on SEND and inclusion: Initial and continuing professional development with mandatory in-service whole staff training and disability equality and human rights training for all.
  5. Reform the Curriculum and Assessment system: Build a flexible, child friendly system, including (new) non-exam-based accreditation, including creative, vocational, interpersonal and social skills, and moderated teacher assessments, which have worked during lockdown.
  6. End exclusions and ban zero tolerance behaviour policies (for instance, Behaviour Hubs): Empower Disabled students, end disablist bullying and introduce/enhance peer support/collaboration and buddy systems.
  7. Fully implement the School Access Planning Duty within 5 years, by which time all schools must be accessible.
  8. Empower all Disabled children and parents to know and exercise their rights to fully resourced inclusive education, requiring an inclusive ethos and strong person-centred approach.
  9. Government policy to create a more relaxed and stress-free environment in schools: Including amental health counsellor in every school and increased funding for CAMHS.
  10. Reasonable Adjustments: Government to enforce a public duty to Disability Equality and fully implement Reasonable Adjustments throughout the education system.

To achieve the above demands and reorient the English education SEND system toward inclusion, parents, teachers, school students, trade unions and the community need to work in solidarity over the coming months. Please get involved and do all you can to spread these ideas.

This article is reproduced from Inclusion Now Issue 59.

Successful Lobby of DFE and Petition Against SEND Cuts Tuesday 23rd October read ‘Where Now For Inclusive Education?’

Posted on October 25, 2018

Where Now for Inclusive Education
Where now for Inclusive Education?
Richard Rieser, World of Inclusion
Progress towards a more equitable society where all can exercise their human rights, is often not straight forward. Powerful vested interests can subtly draw parents into their web, so confusing them about what is in their or their children’s best interests.

Progress towards inclusive education for disabled children and those with special educational needs is a case in point. The current coalition Government says it is committed ‘to removing the bias to inclusive education in our English Education system’ and supports more parental choice while introducing real term cuts across all schools and seeking to break up a thirty year consensus of moving towards more inclusive approaches. At the same time under the smokescreen of ‘choice’ parents and special schools are being urged/bribed to opt-out of Local Authority support and planning to set up Special Academies and special Free Schools.

Under the last Government, after a wide consultation with parents and educationalists, the Lamb Inquiry identified 60 improvements that could be made to the education system for disabled children and those with SEN. Many of these have been ignored by the present Government, choosing instead to thrust the education of disabled children into the front line in their ideological battle to break up state education and prepare the way for much greater private sector involvement.
In the Green Paper ‘Support and Aspiration’, they hold out a panacea of ‘parental choice’, ‘new special school academies’, ‘special free schools’, removal of bureaucracy and the streamlining of the process of assessing needs and providing support, by providing a single assessment of disabled young people aged 0-25, for Education, Health and Care Plans. It can sound seductive to parents who have been fighting to get their disabled children a decent education.

Even Local Authorities that were exemplary in meeting the needs of disabled children are being forced to weaken their services by centrally imposed cuts.The National Deaf Children’s Society recently reported thayt 40% of Las in England have cut the number of specialist Teachers of the Deaf. In attempts not to cut class teachers massive cuts programmes have been announced across Children’s Services in nearly every Local Authority over the next four years. For example Barnet, Lambeth, City of Leicester Educational Psychologists are being cut, in Haringey Speech and Language Therapists and Youth Workers across the country. Educational Welfare is a favourite target, as are Behaviour support teams such as in Tower Hamlets and Camden. All this can only be viewed as a cynical exercise to destabilise the provision for SEN and disabled pupils, to open it up to privatisation.

Yet the vast majority of parents of children with statements of SEN, those on School Action and School Action Plus are happy with the provision made for their children. There are currently 1.7 million children in the SEN system and all but 6% are in mainstream schools. There is not a huge rush to the SENDIST to get children placed in special schools. There are 254,000 children with a statement of SEN and 41% attend special schools. In 2009-2010 there were 1408 appeals to SENDIST, which involved where the child went to school, with 443 of these conceded to the parents. This hardly evidence of widespread dissatisfaction with the SEN system, as claimed by the Government.

It is true that a minority of parents, particularly of children on the autistic continuum, are unhappy with the treatment their disabled children receive at school. According to the Council for Disabled Children many who have opted for special school claim to be refugees from the mainstream system where their child was bullied or their needs were not met.
Since 2002 all schools have been under a legal duty to eradicate disability related harassment against disabled pupils, and yet according to the Equality and Human Rights Commission Triennial Review-How Equal is Britain (2010) , 80% say they have experienced bullying at school. Since 2002, all schools have been under a legal duty to make reasonable adjustments for disabled pupils in admission, education and associated services and exclusion. Yet exclusion of disabled pupils are 9 times higher than non-disabled pupils and 20 times higher for those on School Action Plus. This is clear evidence of a lack of training and whole school provision to accommodate disabled pupils. Despite rhetoric and policies from the last Government about inclusion, over the last 13 years there were more children in separate segregated settings because of their SEN or impairment than when they came to power.

There were of course many schools where there was an inclusive ethos , positive attitudes and good inclusive practice-around 20% according to OFSTED (2004). A larger number of mainstream schools around 60% were adequate but with much room for improvement. 20% were not implementing inclusive practice. Much of this poor practice results from the old deficit model, as viewing the problem within the child and their impairment-medical model thinking. The good practice is in schools which are prepared to change and adapt policies, practices and curricula, to accommodate different styles and types of learning and assessment. Such schools also have a leadership whose ethos is informed by equalities and inclusion, where staff are supported in resources, staffing and training disability equality from a social model. Interestingly, neither the Education Bill nor the Green Paper address this success of inclusive education or analyses how to make it more widespread and effective, in line with international treaty requirements, such as Article 24 of the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities. In addition, the Green Paper says the Government will make it more difficult for parents to choose a mainstream school for their disabled children, bringing back caveats to Section 316 of the 1996 Education Act, which were dropped in the 2001 Act. Therefore, the cost of mainstream education and the appropriateness will be reintroduced, bringing back the position of ‘compulsory segregation’ against the wishes of parent and child that existed before 2002. This fits in with the new harsh approach to exclusion with no appeal, which will lead to an increase in the exclusion of disabled pupils. Already there is much evidence of a disproportionate number of disabled pupils being excluded from Academies.

Teachers need more training on how to run inclusive classrooms. Nearly every class has disabled children. The Government are suggesting that the expertise of special schools is key to developing training for mainstream colleagues on how to include disabled children. This is to misunderstand the specialist expertise of special school colleagues, which by its very nature does not fit into the mainstream setting.

The gains made in the development of inclusive education are now under threat by Government. However, good inclusive practice was always initiated and led by teachers and head teachers, seeking greater equality for disabled pupils and students. It will be harder in the coming months and years, but we are engaged in a struggle for the heart and soul of not only our education system but our society. We will need to keep inclusion as one of our goals for a good local school for every child in every area, rather than the inequality of choice and privatisation.

Developing an Inclusive Education Policy in the Labour Party Richard Rieser

Posted on April 29, 2018

Developing an Inclusive Education Policy in the Labour Party Richard Rieser
The 2017 Manifesto committed to developing a National Education Service based on inclusivity. The Labour Party Consultation Document ‘Early Years, Education and Training’, currently (April-June 2018) out for members and wider views, is silent on the Inclusive Education issue. The 2017 Manifesto further stated “ we will deliver a strategy for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) based on inclusivity, and embed SEND more substantially into training for teachers and non-teaching staff, so that staff, children and their parents are properly supported”. This is again not mentioned in the Consultation Document. The Manifesto also committed to signing into UK Law the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. This means developing an Inclusive Education System and removing the current reservations, interpretations and obstacles to implementation of Article 24 –Education. The Labour Party is also committed to a Social Model approach to disability and in education this means developing inclusion.
There is considerable evidence from research in the UK and around the world that including disabled children and young people with the full range of impairments is successful, particularly where well planned, funded and staff are well trained (i) . I have been observing and filming inclusion working across the UK and beyond for the last 30 years and I have witnessed children with multiple impairments being successfully included (ii) . It boils down to attitudes and where there is a ‘can do’ attitude it can happen in all sorts of environments. But even where this does not occur, disabled students do better academically than those segregated into special schools. This is the case for those with cognitive and social emotional and mental health impairments, as well as those with physical and sensory impairments. From 1997 to around 2004-2006 the Labour Government had a policy of Inclusive Education but they did not defend it and allowed it to be undercut. The pressures of the Tories, Standards Agenda, reduction in central support teams, high stakes testing and the wish from special schools to expand, all undercut the policy and the Labour Party did not know how to develop and defend it. This must not happen again. See graph below.

The Coalition and Tory Governments had a commitment to end the ‘bias to inclusive education’ and a moratorium on special school closures. Although the Children and Families Act 2014 (Part 3) reaffirmed the presumption of mainstreaming for those children and young people with a Statement or Education Health and Care Plan (ECHP), in 2015, for the first time in 25 years, there were more students in these categories attending provision outside of mainstream than in (iii). The trend has continued with a further increase in students directed/seeking provision outside mainstream. There remains a huge variation by a factor of 9 in the placement of students with a Statement or EHCP in special school environments across different Local Authorities, as is shown in Table 1. This derives from geography-large rural distances to special schools and conscious efforts by local politicians to be more inclusive. Traditional Labour areas generally have high segregation as setting up special schools was seen as something to be municipally proud of. Now this is seen as a denial of human rights.
Table 1 Percent of School Students from Local Authority in Special Schools DFE SFR 22 2017 Mean 1.1039%*
Most Segregating LAs Least Segregating LAs *includes students in special schools (maintained, academies, independent & non-maintained) Table 5
Torbay 2.06% Havering 0.64%
Stoke-on-Trent 1.87% Kensington and Chelsea 0.56%
Leicestershire 1.86% York 0.54%
Knowsley 1.82% Cornwall 0.48%
Middlesbrough 1.67% City of London 0.38%
Wirral 1.66% Bradford 0.30%
South Tyneside 1.66% Isles of Scilly 0.29%
Stockton-on-Tees1.64% Newham 0.22%
When the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, UNCRPD, was first adopted by the United Nations and ratified by the UK Government in 2009, the meaning of Article 24 and its interpretation lacked clarity. In 2016, the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities adopted General Comment No 4 (iv). This now has the status of international law and makes it clear what is expected by state parties with regard to implementing inclusive education.
The General Comment states what inclusive education is:-
• A process of addressing and responding to the diverse needs of all children.
• Recognises all children can learn.
• Identification and removal of barriers.
• Presence, full participation, accessibility, attendance and achievement of all students, especially those excluded or marginalized.
• Builds positive relationships, friendships and acceptance.
Recognition of inclusion as the key to achieving the right to education has strengthened over the past 30 years, and is enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (herein after: the Convention), the first legally binding instrument to contain a reference to the concept of quality inclusive education. Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 also affirms inclusive quality and equitable education. Inclusive education is central to achieving high quality education for all learners, including those with disabilities, and for the development of inclusive, peaceful and fair societies. Furthermore, there is a powerful educational, social and economic case to be made. Only inclusive education can provide both quality education and social development for persons with disabilities, and a guarantee of universality and non-discrimination in the right to education.

A recent UNESCO publication defined Inclusive Education as a process that helps to overcome barriers limiting the presence, participation and achievement of learners and strengthening the capacity of the education system to reach out to all learners (v). However, this generalised approach is in danger of missing the development of a pedagogy which also can meet the specific needs of disabled children and young people with different types of impairments.

A useful way of thinking about developing and training for inclusive education is to think about a twin track approach. The first track cover the general inclusion of all excluded and under achieving groups takes a broad brush approach based on General Inclusion Track. In teacher education this involves developing teaching and learning strategies that support: Valuing difference and diversity; Differentiation of materials and methods; Collaborative learning where pupils and teachers work together; Peer support where pupils help each other academically and socially and challenge negative language and behaviour; Flexible curricula as well as the provision of classroom and assessment materials; An anti-bias curriculum that challenges traditional gender, tribal , class and disability perspectives; Sufficient time for meaningful learning and rewarding of effort compared to Individuals previous achievements; The creation of a stimulating and interesting multi-sensory learning environment; A child-centred approach with teacher reflection.

The second Impairment Specific track is based on fulfilling the Article 24 duty to provide appropriate individual support and reasonable accommodations or reasonable adjustments under the UK Equalities Act (2010). This recognizes that the above approaches on their own will not work equally for all children with disabilities, as they require reasonable accommodations and support arising from their impairments. These adjustments are specific to the type of impairment a child/young person has. Within this track, the teacher would learn to identify the loss of physical or mental function with a basic screening tool, and have a working knowledge of the range of adjustments that can be implemented in the classroom. Below is a list, although not comprehensive, of the tools available for teachers to use with their students with disabilities:

a) Visually Impaired or Blind – Glasses, magnification glasses, Braille, tactile maps and diagrams, audio tapes/CDs and text to talk, mobility training, large print documents and paperwork, audio description, modified orientation and creation of fixed points in class, creation of auditory environments, talking instruments, colour contrasts, and identification of hazards such as steps; b) Deaf and Hearing Impaired- Finger spelling and basic sign language, interpretation, Oral-lip reading, basic Hearing Aid maintenance, strong emphasis on visual environment, additional time and support with abstract concepts and maths; c) Deafblind – Some of the tools listed above in a) and b), Deafblind Language, provision of interpreters, creation of tactile environments; d) Physical Impairments -Adapting doorways and furniture, creation of an accessible infrastructure as well as accessible toilet and washing facilities, maintaining safe storage of equipment, provision of personal assistance, diet and medication resources, and rest time space; e) Specific learning difficulties- Creation of colour overlays and backgrounds, providing easy read texts, story tapes and text to talk, allowing the use of spell-checkers, concrete objects, and breaking activities down into small doable steps; f) Speech and Communication Difficulty/Impairment – Facilitated Communication, Augmented Communication low and high tech, pointing, switching, talkers, information grids; g) General Cognitive Impairment- Pictograms, small steps curriculum, easy read, scaffolding, Makaton, symbols, information grids, concrete objects, individual programme; h) Mental Health Impairment- Counselling and personal support, differentiated behaviour policy, empathy, quiet space, circle of friends; i) Behaviour impairment- Circle of friends, structured environment and day, differentiated behaviour policy, chill out space and mentoring (vi). Such pedagogy needs backing up by specialist inclusion teachers working out of local resource centres as peripatetic experts.

The right to inclusive education encompasses a transformation in culture, policy and practice in all formal and informal educational environments, to accommodate the differing requirements and identities of individual students, together with a commitment to remove the barriers that impede that possibility. It involves strengthening the capacity of the education system to reach out to all learners. It focuses on the full and effective participation, accessibility, attendance and achievement of all students, especially those who, for different reasons, are excluded or at risk of being marginalized. Inclusion involves access to and progress in high-quality formal and informal education without discrimination. It seeks to enable communities, systems and structures to combat discrimination, including harmful stereotypes, recognize diversity, promote participation and overcome barriers to learning and participation for all by focusing on well-being and success of students with disabilities. It requires an in-depth transformation of education systems in legislation, policy, and the mechanisms for financing, administration, design, delivery and monitoring of education. The UNCRPD does not mention ‘special education needs’, as this is rooted in an oppressive history based on eugenics and separation that has scarred generations of disabled people.

The UNCRPD Committee highlights the importance of recognising the differences between exclusion, segregation, integration and inclusion. Exclusion occurs when students are directly or indirectly prevented from or denied access to education in any form. Segregation occurs when the education of students with disabilities is provided in separate environments designed or used to respond to a particular or various impairments, in isolation from students without disabilities. Integration is a process of placing persons with disabilities in existing mainstream educational institutions, as long as the former can adjust to the standardized requirements of such institutions. Inclusion involves a process of systemic reform embodying changes and modifications in content, teaching methods, approaches, structures and strategies in education to overcome barriers with a vision serving to provide all students of the relevant age range with an equitable and participatory learning experience and environment that best corresponds to their requirements and preferences. Placing students with disabilities within mainstream classes without accompanying structural changes to, organisation, curriculum and teaching and learning strategies, does not constitute inclusion. Furthermore, integration does not automatically guarantee the transition from segregation to inclusion, Figure 1. (para 10 GC No.4)
The core features of inclusive education according to General Comment No 4 are :
• Whole systems approach: education ministries must ensure that all resources advance inclusive education.
• Whole educational environment: committed leadership introduces and embeds the culture, policies and practices to achieve inclusive education at all levels.
• Whole person approach: flexible curricula, teaching and learning methods adapted to different strengths, requirements and learning styles.
• Supported teachers
• Respect for and value of diversity: everyone welcomed equally. Effective measures prevent abuse and bullying.
• Learning-friendly environment: accessible environment where everyone feels safe, supported, stimulated and able to express themselves, with a strong emphasis on involving students themselves in building a positive school community.
• Effective transitions: learners receive support, reasonable accommodation and equality regarding assessment, examination procedures and certification of their attainments on an equal basis with others.
• Recognition of partnerships and monitoring (para. 12 GC No.4).

The Government have been using academisation and free schools to set up more segregated provision. Local Authorities in England are prevented from making rational planned decisions for SEN provision, both in special schools and in setting up mainstream resource bases and are now being forced to bid to set up free special schools. As of March 2018, there were 264 special school academies, a further 75 applications in the pipeline, 27 free special schools, a further 55 in the pipeline and Alternative Provision free schools 79 open and a further 31 in the pipeline (vii).
A much larger group of students(1.14 million) are disabled with needs to be met in mainstream schools through SEN School Support. However, exclusion rates are 7 times higher for permanent and 6 times higher for fixed term exclusions than those with no SEN. Many excluded students are now in Alternative Provision permanently, rather than short term, as envisaged. Increasing numbers are being unlawfully off rolled and there is also a rise in those being home educated. The fixed term exclusion figure for sponsored secondary academies is three times higher than for non academies (viii). Inflexible behaviour policies-three strikes and you are out, with a failure to differentiate behaviour policies are leading to many exclusions in breach of the equality duties for disabled students.

The funding crisis in our schools is particularly hitting provision for those on school support as teaching assistants and the facility for 1:1 and small group work disappears from our schools. EHCPlans are being cut as desperate Councils seek unlawfully to cut resources to spread them more thinly.
Failure by schools to take seriously their duties under the Equalities Act towards disabled students are leading to increasing discrimination and unfair treatment. Failure to implement the general Equality Duty and to make reasonable adjustments or protect disabled students from harassment and bullying are also helping to make schools less habitable for disabled students. The narrowing of curriculum, getting rid of course work and raising the bar on high stakes testing is leading to an increasing number of disabled children on SEN support being excluded or refused admission on the spurious grounds that the school cannot meet need.

Despite the gloomy outlook many schools are still struggling to provide good inclusive education in a comprehensive approach. See for example Eastlea, Newham ( ) or Emersons Green Primary South Gloucestershire ( ) or Wroxham Primary, Hertfordshire ( .

How would an incoming Labour Government committed to developing an inclusive National Education Service begin to tackle this increasingly discriminatory, unfair and increasingly privatised education system? The work starts now by discussing and educating the Party and the public on the alternatives and their beneficial effects. At a recent seminar for the Labour Front bench on Inclusive Education arranged by Jeremy Corbyn, presented by myself and Micheline Mason, we put forward statistical indicators of the current increasingly segregated position in many areas. Micheline started by explaining the impact of exclusion and segregation on her life & development and why she was committed to her daughter, who has the same impairment, going to mainstream school. This was about the right to be human (ix). The International Human Rights position was explained and after identifying current barriers to inclusion in England’s school system (figures 2 and 3), discussed some of the solutions needed if Labour were returned to power.

What is to be done?
The current cuts in school budgets are hitting the inclusive practice towards disabled young people particularly hard with cuts in teaching assistants, reduction in bought in specialists and growing class sizes which are leading to increased exclusions both official ( fixed term and permanent) and big increases in off-rolling( unlawful) are leading to a crisis in our schools (x).

This state of affairs could be the touchstone to connect with a wide mass of parents to argue that another way is possible. Developing values based on human rights and inclusion is the firm foundation to this transformation, but developing confidence in inclusion among schools staff, parents and young people is the key. In electing a Labour Government and implementing a National Education Service based on a principle of inclusion we will need to convince staff and parents that another way is possible and practicable. Running a special school and mainstream system is expensive. It is also wasteful of young people’s potential. As we transition from the current situation to an inclusive system, capacity building will be crucial. Many more resources and expertise can be released to make inclusion work; provided the high stakes testing is dismantled and children’s happiness is at the heart of learning, with a curriculum for all, we will be able to achieve an inclusive, friendly quality education system for all.

In order to prepare now:-
• Immediately set up a policy advisory group to work on fleshing out important changes.
• More vigorously challenge current Government.
• Develop a national and local debate on future education with inclusion at its heart.
• Challenge current anti-inclusion thinking inside the Labour Party and beyond.
Possible policy changes when in Government:-
• Remove caveats to Article 24 UNCRPD.
• Strengthen Parent Carer Forums and Young Disabled People’s Forums.
• Develop and implement a National Inclusion Strategy following involving all departments in Ministry of Education and Local Authorities.
• This strategy will need to be at least for 10 years and identify transitional mechanisms for a dual system whilst special and mainstream schools increasingly collaborate and
continually developing the capacity of all mainstream to include wider diversity of pupils and students.
• Restore SEND funding as part of increasing school funding including a ring fence on school SEN Support.
• Introduce broad and balanced curriculum, including Equality and the necessity for peer support and collaboration.
• Replace league table culture with moderated teacher assessment.
• Introduce Access grant for school infrastructure and curriculum.
• All schools and colleges fully accessible within 5 years.
• Set up teacher led national curriculum and assessment review based on principles of Inclusive Education.
• Challenge disabilist bullying/exclusions. Introduce disability equality into curriculum for all.
• Develop behaviour policies based on emotional intelligence with differentiation ( No 3 strikes and out)
• Restore Independent Appeal Panel for School Exclusions
• Widen remit of the Ombudsman to cover admission of academies and to be the last resort of all complaints in schools and widen brief of Equality and Human Rights Commission to support
cases of discrimination in schools and colleges.
• Introduce mandatory competencies on inclusive education on all Initial Teacher Training.
• Require all serving teachers to undertake twin track training on the inclusion of disabled children/students.
• Reverse Academies legislation. Take all schools/colleges back into local democratic control.
• Incentivising equalities and inclusion by linking funding to value added for all students.
• Develop financial incentives for mainstream schools to have resourced provision.
• Reintroduce maintenance grants for all 16-19 year olds. Work towards all achieving a vocational or academic qualification.
• Introduce Education and Equality Inspectorate with the power of fining schools in breach of the intentions of the Equality Act.
• Develop longer term financial and organisational structure for inclusive education involving all providers.
• Develop and fund more inclusive approaches to 19-25 education and training and link them to concrete measures for preparing for adulthood.
• Restore and develop the Disabled Students Grant in Higher Education.

The above list is not exhaustive but has been put forward to initiate discussion in the Labour Party and beyond.
i Alana Institute, (2016) ‘Summary of the Evidence of Inclusive Education’.
Jackson, R (2008) ‘Inclusion or Segregation for Children with an Intellectual Impairment: What does the Research Say?’ Maryland Coalition for Inclusive Education (2010) Inclusion Works. A meta analysis covering 47 studies involving 4.8 million students showed a positive relationship of inclusion of disabled students to achievement of non-disabled students 2017 Review Academic achievement of students without special educational needs in inclusive classrooms: A meta-analysis Grzegorz Szumski Joanna Smogorzewska, Maciej Karwowski Dyson, A et al England ‘Inclusion and Pupil Achievement’ DFES RR 578 (2004)
ii see Reasonable Adjustment Project England, (2004) and Implementing Inclusive Education A Commonwealth Handbook (2012)
iv OHCHR CRPD Committee Sept 2016 General Comment No 4.
v A guide for ensuring inclusion and equity in education UNESCO 2017
vi UNICEF 2013 ‘Educating Teachers for Children with Disabilities
ix Micheline Mason ‘Incurably Human’

See full article with illustrations here

The 2017 Manifesto committed to developing a National Education Service based on inclusivity

The sinister segregation policies excluding children who don’t ‘fit in’

Posted on April 18, 2018

The sinister segregation policies excluding children who don’t ‘fit in’

John Harris
I thought ignorant prejudice against disabled people and those with special needs was on the way out. But this government is turning back the clock to a nastier age
Mon 16 Apr 2018 The Guardian
Human progress is slow to happen and sometimes hard to see: in an era as troubled as ours, the world can easily look as though it is regressing at speed. But look back, and you may see how far we have come. I grew up in a world where grim words such as “handicapped” and “retarded” were part of everyday speech, and disabled people were too often shut away. People put money in charity tins to salve their consciences, and then went back to their ignorance. A sure sign of the way society kept some people at arm’s length was the inhuman use of the definite article: people knew about “the deaf”, “the blind” and “the disabled”, but didn’t give them much thought.

Families crowdfund legal action against special needs budget cuts

Many of these attitudes linger. But millions of people now know that even the word “disability” often does little justice to who people actually are, and how much the concept blurs into the supposedly “able” population. In the field of autism, the new paradigm of “neurodiversity” underlines a similar point. On a good day, it can feel like a set of old prejudices may at last be being laid to rest. Human beings are complex: as the American writer Steve Silberman puts it in his book NeuroTribes, “Just because a computer is not running Windows doesn’t mean it’s broken. Not all the features of atypical human operating systems are bugs.”
And then you look at the English education system – or, more specifically, the arrangements and policies for kids with so-called special educational needs – and wonder what happened. Cuts are deepening, and there is a rising sense of children who do not fit in being pushed out lest they threaten the gods of discipline, rote learning and competitive exam performance.
At the last count, 4,152 children deemed to have special needs had not been found a school place (up from 776 in 2010), and most of them were forced to stay at home without any formal provision. Even if they are in school, thousands more are increasingly being denied the support they need.
The ideal of inclusion is based on the simple principle that schools should reflect the world at large, so that education in the dry stuff of spelling and sums is accompanied by schooling kids in the meaning of diversity. Hearing people’s stories, you rather get the sense that this ideal is slowly being superseded by a mixture of chaos and the gradual return of segregation.
As things stand, the government funds the majority of pre-16 state education through the dedicated schools grant, one of whose elements is the so-called high needs block, meant to cover the education of children who either need intensive support in mainstream education, or go to special schools. From 2011 up to now, the high needs block has effectively been frozen – and to make things worse, new government rules now limit councils’ ability to top up special–needs funding from the much bigger budgets intended for mainstream schools as a whole.
Amid an across-the-board spending squeeze, dozens of local authorities are running high needs deficits. Across England as a whole, there is reckoned to be a £400m gap between what councils say they require for their high needs provision and what the government is providing. So schools are cutting back on teaching assistants, special needs training and outside help. If you have a child with special needs, or know anyone who does, you will know what all this entails. One-to-one provision at school often makes the difference between a child progressing or withdrawing. Without such support, it can feel like the sky is falling in.

At the same time, sweeping reforms to the special needs system – which, among other things, extend the state’s responsibilities to thousands of people up to the age of 25 – have been botched and underfunded. There are real concerns about academies either excluding kids with special needs or pushing parents to choose other schools. In an absurd twist, people are now exiting the public-sector system and successfully pushing councils to fund places at independent special schools.
In the London borough of Hackney, where a brilliant group of parents is fighting cuts to special needs provision and organising a legal challenge under the banner of Hackney Special Education Crisis, this latter cost now accounts for around half of a nearly £6m high needs overspend. It also threatens to create a vicious circle: more children leaving mainstream schools as their special needs provision gets cut, rising bills for special school places, even more cuts as a result.

There are concerns about academies either excluding kids with special needs or pushing parents to choose other schools
Meanwhile, many lives are getting more difficult. I spoke this week to the mother of a 10-year-old boy who was diagnosed with autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) when he was five. After three unsuccessful attempts, he now has a formal education, health and care plan that in theory makes his provision dependable and accountable. But the support at his inner London school has been diluted, and she now worries about him being bullied. Looking ahead to secondary school, she says, “We worry won’t be able to get him the support he needs. We’re going to have to battle.” Another mother told me about her 10-year-old son, recently excluded from school for two days, and promised provision that has yet to materialise. “I have a document, and I go to meetings, but I don’t see any results,” she said.
It would be easy to think that this is all about austerity, but it is worse than that. In the Conservatives’ 2010 manifesto, there was a pledge to “end the bias towards the inclusion of children with special needs in mainstream schools”, and push back against “the ideologically driven closure of special schools”. In the context of education policy, these pledges have since taken on a more sinister aspect.
We all know what modern English education policy is all about: results, league tables, a fixation with “discipline”. The stupid Tory obsession with grammar schools is of a piece with that. Where, you wonder, does special needs education fit in. The beginnings of an answer, perhaps, lie in a government announcement in 2017 that under the auspices of the free schools programme, there are to be 19 new “special free schools”, providing “high quality provision for children with special educational needs and disabilities”, to add to around 30 free schools that have already opened. Some councils’ policies are seemingly starting to reflect similar logic. If this causes anyone disquiet, they should get in touch with a pressure group called Allfie – the Alliance for Inclusive Education. “What we’re fighting against is segregated education,” one of their staff members told me this week. “We’re talking about an ideological drive.”
I have a child with special educational needs. He’s 11 – and, with a lot of support, he has been taught alongside his peers in mainstream state schools since he was four. He has benefited immeasurably: quite apart from how much he likes such subjects as music, science and IT, he has started to acquire some of the everyday social skills he finds difficult. But that is only half the point. His presence at his endlessly encouraging, proudly diverse school means that his peers understand what human difference means in practice. This is the ideal we are now going to have to fight for – before it gets snuffed out, with tragic consequences.
• John Harris is a Guardian columnist

Great theme World Down Syndrome Day 21st March All Means All

Posted on March 18, 2018

All Means All participates in International World Down Syndrome Day 2018 Video Campaign

“Lea Goes to School”

All Means All – The Australian Alliance for Inclusive Education is proud of its participation in this year’s international World Down Syndrome Day (21 March) #WDSD18 video campaign led by CoorDown, Italy’s national Down syndrome association.

With the creative and communications talent of Luca Pannese and Luca Lorenzini of Publicis New York, together with the support of Down Syndrome International, Down Syndrome Australia, Down’s Syndrome Association (UK), Movimento Down (Brazil) and All Means All, and with the the patronage of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, CoorDown has delivered yet another powerful video advocacy campaign to advance the rights of people with Down syndrome.

This year’s video takes the form of an animated children’s book story entitled Lea goes to school – read by Grace, a 10 year old child with Down syndrome.

The video can be viewed here.

The core message of the campaign is that inclusive education is a human right and that it is time to remove the systemic and cultural barriers to students with Down syndrome and other disabilities realising this critical human right.

The goal of the campaign, reflected in the hashtag #IncludeUsFromTheStart and supported by the information website, is to highlight the importance for students with disability of accessing an inclusive education from the beginning of their educational experience in determining academic and social life-long outcomes, influencing acceptance and respect for diversity and maximising their future participation in the community and life generally.

This goal is in alignment with the work of All Means All in progressing the implementation of an inclusive education system and the removal of the barriers that limit the rights of some students, including many students with disability, to access a quality inclusive education in Australian schools.

A children’s story with a powerful message

The story of Lea Goes to School is short but in its simplicity it presents a number of important themes and messages:

In being narrated by a young girl with Down syndrome it recognises that the right to inclusive education is a fundamental human right of the child – as recognised by Article 24 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (to which Australia is a party) and UN General Comment No. 4 on the Right to Inclusive Education. The story book is the creative “device” that allows this serious message to be delivered through the voice of a child.
The opening statement that the child protagonist is at a “cross roads” introduces the fact that for many children around the world the direct path to an inclusive education in a regular classroom amongst their same-age peers is crossed by a diversionary lower trajectory “special” education path that, as research demonstrates, more often leads to social isolation and segregated work and living settings.
The talking sign-post that stands at the fork in the path and recommends the separate segregated education path through life represents the systemic and cultural barriers to students accessing a genuinely inclusive education.
The statement by the child protagonist to the sign-post, “I’m not special. I’m Lea!” challenges the euphemistic foundation and logic of the “special” path and emphasises the importance of educational settings and teachers seeing and responding to each child for the individual that they are.
The young protagonist’s intuitive rejection of the “easier” low-expectations “special” path underscores the artificiality of the “special” path and the importance of students with disability being academically challenged and held to high expectations.
The simplicity of the story is also reflective of the simplicity of inclusion as a cultural concept and goal – ultimately inclusion is about being a valued part of one’s community. The achievement of that goal is incompatible with segregation of people with disability, in education, employment or other settings.
Over 40 years of research-based evidence shows that inclusive education – a system in which every student is welcomed and supported and where all students learn together in regular classrooms – maximises academic and social outcomes for all students, not just students with disability.

Inclusive education does not happen by itself – students must be properly supported to access the classroom curriculum and teachers and school staff must also be supported, trained and resourced. It requires the progressive systemic and cultural transformation of our “dual pathway” general and special education systems into a single genuinely inclusive, fully accessible and properly resourced system. That transformation – the removal of the systemic and cultural barriers – begins with acknowledging the right of every child to receive an inclusive education.

Dr Robert Jackson, co-Founder and a Director of All Means All: “We know that children with Down syndrome are among the most excluded and segregated in Australia’s education system and society and World Down Syndrome Day is an opportunity for us to champion their educational rights and to raise consciousness about inclusive education as a fundamental human right of every child. The message of the video reflects what we know from decades of research, that educational experiences are critical in determining the life-long trajectory for children with disability and that an inclusive education is the most direct path to a better future for them.”

Ms Catalina Devandas, UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities: “Access to quality education is essential for children with disabilities to be able to effectively participate in the community. It is a fundamental human right, and one of the keys for ending poverty and making our societies more just. We must all be committed to ensure that schools are inclusive of children with disabilities.”

All Means All – The Australian Alliance for Inclusive Education is a nationwide multi- stakeholder alliance working together for the implementation of an inclusive education system in Australia. You can read more about us here:

World Down Syndrome Day is an international event – officially ratified by a UN resolution – created to raise greater awareness and understanding about Down syndrome, usher in a new culture that embraces human diversity and promotes respect and inclusion in society for all people with Down syndrome.

Global Partnership for Education report is a good starting point for dialogue on developing inclusive educartion

Posted on March 16, 2018

This stocktake report is a good starting point but with only 1.15% of GPE grant since 2011 given to specifically supporting the inclusion of disabled children it is clear much more needs to be done to get anywhere near SDG 4 by 2030. It is a practical overview of the grant receiving countries, but very few are taking the inclusion of disabled children seriously, with too many Governments relying on NGOs or still ignoring the issue.

Richard Rieser
More efforts needed to give children with disabilities equal rights to education

More efforts needed to give children with disabilities equal rights to education
Blog -March 15, 2018byEleni Papakosta|

In this classroom, some students with disabilities receive more personalized attention. Kisiwandui primary school. Tanzania.
CREDIT: GPE/Chantal Rigaud
UNESCO estimates that between 93 million and 150 million children live with disabilities worldwide. They are one of the most marginalized and excluded groups of children. They are often overlooked in humanitarian action, due to the limited resources available.
According to UNICEF an estimated 90% of children with disabilities in the developing world are out of school. Even when children with disabilities are enrolled in school, they are often excluded from learning as the curriculum is not adapted to their needs and the teachers do not have the training or time to provide individualized support and learning assistance.
The new GPE stocktake report aims to document the progress made by GPE developing country partners in addressing the needs of children with disabilities in their education sector plans and GPE-funded grants.
We reviewed the education sector plans of 51 countries for this study, as well as the education sector program implementation grants (ESPIG), program documents (PDs), implementation progress reports (IPRs) and education sector analysis (ESAs) where applicable.
How education sector plans address inclusive education
In this study, 30 developing country partners identify improving the quality of learning for all children as a strategic priority in their education sector plans, with specific activities to achieve this objective, including pre-service and in-service teacher training, equipping teachers with better teaching material such as inclusive education toolkits and guidance material, instruction aids like abacuses and audio-visual dictionaries in sign language.
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Other activities include measuring learning achievement of children with disabilities enrolled in schools, as well as curriculum development and adaptation to respond to the diverse learning needs of students, and giving teachers the opportunity to adapt lesson plans so all students can participate, learn and succeed. Countries are also exploring the provision of information and communication technology (ICT) in education to reach all children.
Helping teachers and improving access to schools
Supporting teachers and students is vital in promoting inclusion in schools. Specific activities range from training teachers and community workers to screen children for disabilities, to providing children with disabilities with rehabilitation aids and devices, hiring support staff to assist teachers in supporting students with disabilities and creating resource centers for teachers.
Improving access is another strategic priority for 40 developing country partners in this study, with nearly all of them identifying inaccessible school buildings and facilities such as toilets as the main reason why children with disabilities are not enrolled in primary schools.
To address this issue, developing country partners plan to build new schools and special schools or renovate existing schools to make them accessible to children with disabilities.
Additionally, to address the attitudinal barrier children with disabilities face, developing country partners plan to develop communication strategies focusing on awareness raising and sensitization of parents, education stakeholders and communities, of the value of educating children with disabilities.

Developing country partners also plan to strengthen their education systems by addressing the educational needs of children with disabilities. Specific activities include improving disability data collection, scaling up inclusive education pilot projects, collecting data on children with disabilities and ensuring effective coordination strategies between the various ministries responsible for supporting children with disabilities.
GPE grants support inclusive education
The study goes back to 2012 and shows that since that year, GPE has provided a total of US$439 million to support the implementation of education sector plans. From that amount US$5.07 million has funded specific activities supporting children with disabilities.
Twelve countries (Cambodia, Comoros, Eritrea, Ethiopia, the Kyrgyz Republic, Lao PDR, Liberia, Nepal, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zimbabwe) have received grants from GPE to support the education of children with disabilities.
The main activity to address disability and inclusion is providing equipment and learning materials to children with disabilities. Other activities include teacher support and training in special education, raising community awareness, construct new schools and expand current schools for children with disabilities, providing teacher material, early screening to identify children with disabilities as early as possible, establishing resource centers, providing financial aid to students with disabilities, implementing an equity strategy, mainstreaming children with disabilities, conducting pre-enrollment assessments, and providing support to inclusive education centers.

Ensuring children with disabilities can fully participate in society
Inclusive education systems have the power to amplify the voices of children with disabilities so that they can be heard in decisions that affect their lives. Inclusive education systems build on their capabilities, develop their capacities to participate meaningfully in decision making and in social, cultural, and economic life, and ensures they enjoy their full spectrum of rights.
Our report highlights the need to step up support for disability and inclusive education to developing country partners.
We need to improve consideration of issues around disability and inclusion in education sector analysis and sector planning processes to better promote the achievement of GPE 2020 strategic goal 2, and to fulfill the transformative vision of Agenda 2030.
This means ensuring that girls and boys with disabilities are not only able to access their right to a quality education in a nurturing environment, but also, through education, become empowered to participate fully in society, and enjoy full realization of their rights and capabilities.
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Areas:Children with Disabilities

Eleni Papakosta
Equity, gender equality and inclusion consultant, Global Partnership for Education
Eleni Papakosta joined the Global Partnership for Education in August 2017 as an equity, gender equality and inclusion consultant, supporting the delivery of goal 2 in the GPE Strategic Plan and providing…


Senegal schools show how including children with disabilities transforms communities

Posted on October 13, 2017

A pilot project enabling blind and visually impaired children in Senegal to attend mainstream school has led to a breakthrough government commitment to introduce inclusive education throughout the country.
Blog – October 13, 2017 by Maria Fsadni|

Senegal has more than 700,000 blind and visually impaired people, including thousands of school-aged children. Before the pilot, education for children with visual impairment and other disabilities was entirely segregated, and with only one state special-needs school in operation, most children in need were missing out.

Inclusion benefits all sides

In 2011, Sightsavers Senegal and the Senegalese Ministry of Education began enrolling blind and visually impaired children into mainstream primary schools in Dakar. By 2016, 187 had been enrolled in three schools.
The program’s first cohort of blind and visually impaired children took their end of primary exams in July 2016, with the majority passing the requirements to continue to secondary education. In addition, fully sighted children in integrated classes are consistently achieving better exam results than non-inclusive classes in the schools involved. Those working on the program say this may be due to the social-impact of the buddy scheme as well as the fact that more time is being spent on lessons.

Salimata Bocoum, Country Director of Sightsavers Senegal, said: “What the program has done is allow the government to have a clear view of an inclusive education model that works. Before, a lot of initiatives were going on but they did not have a clear understanding in government of how to include children with disabilities in inclusive education. Sightsavers Senegal has brought that guidance and created an understanding of the possibility.”

Success leads to program expansion

The project’s results have been deemed so compelling, the government has officially committed to bringing inclusive education in across Senegal.

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A government budget to support inclusive education has been created and the Ministry of Education is currently working with Sightsavers Senegal and other civil society partners to develop a national policy for inclusive education at primary and secondary level, which it plans to release by the end of the year.

The program has also been extended to two further regions in Senegal, funded by Sightsavers and Irish Aid.

It is hoped the pilot will act as a blueprint for other countries looking to address the lack of education for children with disabilities. UN figures suggest around a third of the 60 million children worldwide who do not go to primary school are disabled.

Through its Put Us in the Picture campaign, Sightsavers is calling for children and adults with disabilities to be included in all aspects of development work, including education.

For more information visit

Learn more on what GPE is doing to support children with disabilities
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Areas:Children with Disabilities
Regions and Countries:Sub-Saharan Africa: Senegal

Maria Fsadni
Senior Media Officer for Policy and Campaigns, Sightsavers
Maria Fsadni is Senior Media Officer for Policy and Campaigns at Sightsavers, based in the UK. She has been with the organization since March 2016 and secures coverage of its social inclusion portfolio of work in the UK and…

Progress to Inclusive Education in South East Asia: What are the issues?

Posted on October 7, 2017

Progress to Inclusive Education in South East Asia: What are the issues?
By Richard Rieser, World of Inclusion

I recently returned from Sarawak, Malaysia, attending and speaking at ICSE 2017 (2nd International Conference on Special Education), held under the aegis of the South East Asian Ministers of Education Regional Centre for Special Education. This represents 11 countries in the region. The Conference was held under the theme Access and Engagement and was to implement the SEAMO SEN mission:

“Providing access and engagement for children with Special Educational Needs must be given priority and emphasis by addressing opportunities and barriers such as diverse learners’ needs, designing and implementing accommodative curriculum suited to the needs of children and responsive curriculum strategies in teaching and learning.

“The SEAMEO 7 Priority Areas:

Early Childhood Care and Education
Addressing Barriers to Inclusion
Resiliency in the Face of Emergencies
Promoting Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET)
Revitalising Teacher Education
Promoting Harmonisation and Higher Education and Research and
Adopting the 21st Century Curriculum form the basis for this conference.
These areas necessitate the urgent needs to provide and engage children with special educational needs in educational settings that are meaningful and inclusive. Quality education and support services would ensure children with special educational needs engage in educational settings that stimulate their holistic growth and give them the necessary skills to live independently and contribute to the betterment their lives.”

The first thing that shocked me about the conference was how deeply ingrained was the concept of Special Educational Needs (SEN). It seemed the thinking and practice of SEN was the bedrock of the region’s thinking and that inclusion of disabled people and their rights were a veneer placed on top.
Though some progress was reported towards more disabled children being in mainstream in Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Lao, Myanmar and Cambodia in every case there was still a very strong distinction between special needs teachers and mainstream teachers. There was still a reliance on special schools for sensory impaired students and those with severe physical impairments. When most speakers talked of inclusion they were talking of students with mild to moderate impairments on the autistic spectrum, ADHD and learning difficulty. But with the exception of the small and prosperous Brunei Darussalam, which has no special schools as a conscious choice following the Salamanca Conference in 1994, and Timor Leste that does not have special schools as until recently it was a far flung outpost of Indonesia; there is an underlying reliance on special schools and special educators.

Apart from the obvious contradiction with signing and ratifying the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Treaty and the Sustainable Development Goals which have quality inclusive education for all people with disabilities written into them, what are the problems with this approach?

Dr Yasmin Hussein, the organiser of the Conference and Director of SEAMO SEN, ‘stressed that it was pivotal for special children to be given the rights to live, to learn, to grow and to have equal opportunities to lead their lives.’

Continually referring to children and young people with a whole range of impairments as ‘special’ invokes the old paradigm of the individual or medical model and leads to solutions based on charity and individual responses rather than a rights based approach that views inclusion as a social and political issue. The organisers of the conference would argue they are doing this and indeed there was much evidence of initiatives of conducting community-based events to increase awareness and acceptance of individuals with disability in society, setting up centres throughout the region (already 21 to which this year four more will be added) specifically meant to undertake training and research programmes in Special Education. SEAMEO SEN has been promoting awareness and the importance of including disability issues and concerns in all specialist centres. Prasert Tepanart, Deputy Director of SEAMO SEN, said “With the current global education direction, the education of the most marginalised and vulnerable group especially children with disabilities has been the focus of all programmes and activities in all SEAMEO centres…. Education is the momentum that directs changes and transformation of mindset and attitude and eventually the history of a nation. With education, the future of marginalised groups especially children with disabilities can be changed and improved.”

The problem is that the transformation of education systems to inclusive has to be across the whole education system. Mainstream teachers must have mandatory training and all colleagues in schools need regular training on inclusion.

When we drafted Article 24 of the UNCRPD in 2005/2006 in New York, we specifically left the words special educational needs out because it ideologically stands for disabled people’s isolation, segregation and mistreatment and not our empowerment and inclusion. Having engaged with 650 colleagues from the region and beyond on the issue of developing inclusive education in South East Asia it seems the continual use of ‘Special’ and ‘Special Educational Needs’ is a real barrier to progress towards inclusion in the region. This is more than semantics.

Whatever the decrees, laws and treaties say, sticking with the SEN model undermines the paradigm shift to rights strongly endorsed in General Comment No.4 of the UNCRPD Committee. It signals business as usual to educators. That there is someone else with expertise and they are the people responsible for educating disabled children. It also reinforces age old prejudice and myths in the community towards disabled children. In the end sticking with the ‘special’ label is disempowering. There were several speakers putting forward a strong disability and rights perspective at the conference. However it feels to me that the normative waters of SEN have swallowed these contributions and the change that is desperately needed will not occur. There are not anywhere near enough special schools and it means that with the exception of some of the smaller and richer countries in the region such as Singapore, Brunei and possibly Malaysia the vast majority of disabled children are still not in school, probably half of 3.48 million. Inclusion and rights needs to be at the centre of a root and branch overhaul of the education system. The old SEN model left behind by colonial masters needs jettisoning. There will be many vested interests who will oppose this approach, but is the only one that will deliver full inclusive education in South East Asia.

UK Government receives crushing comment from UNCRPD Committee

Posted on September 1, 2017

UK Govt failing to deliver on its commitment to Inclusive Education – New UN condemnation for UK human rights record !

The UK Government’s claim to be a ‘world leader in disability issues’ has today been crushed by the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The Committee has released damning Concluding Observations on the UK, following its first Review of the government’s compliance with the Convention.
The education highlights of the press conference held by the UN Committee on the Rights of Disabled People at this afternoon are:
• The Committee has made the highest ever number of recommendations to the UK.
• The UK’s retrogression in ensuring inclusive education is a major concern.
• The UK’s failure to address the high levels of bullying of Disabled children and young people is also a major concern.
The Observations conclude last week’s public examination of the UK Government’s record on delivering disabled people’s rights. The examination was declared by the UK rapporteur Mr Stig Langvad, to be “the most challenging exercise in the history of the Committee”. Mr Langvad raised deep concerns on the UK Government’s failure to implement the rights of disabled people.
Deaf and Disabled People’s Organisations (DDPOs) were hailed as the genuine “world leaders” for their efforts in bringing to light the injustices and human rights violations inflicted on disabled people in the UK.

World of Inclusion is pleased having submitted critical comments on the UNCRPD verdict. But it is now up to everyone in the UK to put pressure on the Government and build a campaign for genuine change towards a more inclusive education system. See Report

Advance unedited version Distr.: General
29 August 2017

Original: English
English, Russian and Spanish only
Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
Concluding observations on the initial report of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland*

I. Introduction
1. The Committee considered the initial report of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (CRPD/C/GBR/1) at its 348th and 349th meetings (see CRPD/C/SR.348 and 349), held on 23 and 24 August 2017. It adopted the present concluding observations at its 356th meeting, held on 29 August 2017.
2. The Committee welcomes the initial report of the State party, which was prepared in accordance with the Committee’s reporting guidelines. It also appreciates the State party’s written replies (CRPD/C/GBR/Q/1/Add.1) to the list of issues prepared by the Committee (CRPD/C/GBR/Q/1). It further appreciates the clarifications provided in response to the questions posed orally by the Committee.
3. The Committee appreciates the constructive dialogue held during the consideration of the report and commends the State party for its delegation, which included delegates from various departments of the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and from the governments of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
II. Positive aspects
4. The Committee commends the State party’s withdrawal of the reservation to Article 12 (4) of the Convention.
5. The Committee welcomes the information about the adoption of legislative and policy measures that develop different aspects of the Convention, such as the National Plan of action to implement the Convention launched in 2016 and the Scottish Social Security System, which included the involvement of organizations of persons with disabilities in their design. It also welcomes the adoption of the Accessible Travel Framework in Scotland, in 2016, with provisions on accessibility for persons with disabilities and the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2015, which provides a framework for social services and health.
III. Principal areas of concern and recommendations
A. General principles and obligations (arts. 1-4)
6. The Committee welcomes the information about the support of the State party’s Government to the Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories for the extension of the Convention. However, it observes with concern:
(a) The insufficient incorporation and uneven implementation of the Convention across all policy areas and levels within all regions, devolved governments and Overseas Territories;
(b) The lack of consistency across the State party in the understanding of, adapting to and applying the human rights model of disability and its evolving concept of disability;
(c) The absence of a comprehensive and cross-cutting review of the State party’s legislation and policies, including within the devolved governments, in order to harmonise legal content and practice with the Convention;
(d) The existing laws, regulations, and practises which discriminate against persons with disabilities; and
(e) The lack of information on policies, programmes and measures that will be put in place by the State party to protect persons with disabilities from being negatively affected, upon triggering article 50 of the Treaty on European Union.
7. The Committee recommends that the State party:
(a) Incorporate the Convention into its legislation, recognizing access to domestic remedies for breaches of the Convention, and adopt an appropriate and comprehensive response to the obligations enshrined in the Convention in its policies and programmes across the State party, including all devolved governments;
(b) Strengthen its efforts to extend the Convention and support its implementation in the Overseas Territories;
(c) Adopt legally binding instruments to implement the concept of disability, in line with article 1 of the Convention and ensure that new and existing legislation incorporate the human rights model of disability across all policy areas and all levels and regions of all devolved government and overseas territories;
(d) Undertake a comprehensive crosscutting review of its legislation and policies to bring them into line with article 1 of the Convention, and ensure that the legal framework protects persons with disabilities against discrimination on the grounds of disability. In this process, the State party should involve organisations of persons with disabilities and national human rights institutions;
(e) Expedite the process to develop a measurable strategic framework and plan of action, with sufficient financial resources aimed at abolishing laws, regulations, customs and practices that constitute discrimination against persons with disabilities and to ensure the equal protection of persons with disabilities; and
(f) Prevent any negative consequences for persons with disabilities by the decision of the triggering article 50 of the Treaty on European Union, in close consultation with organizations of persons with disabilities.
8. The Committee is concerned at the lack of State party-led initiatives aimed at assessing and sufficiently addressing the inclusion of and living conditions for persons with disabilities, particularly in Northern Ireland and the overseas territories.
9. The Committee recommends that the State party collect information and adopt a strategic and measurable plan of action for improving the living conditions of all persons with disabilities, including in close cooperation with authorities in Northern Ireland and the overseas territories.
10. The Committee is concerned about:
(a) The challenges facing organisations of persons with disabilities, including organisations representing women, children and intersex persons with disabilities, to access support and be consulted and actively involved in the implementation of the Convention; and
(b) The lack of mechanisms to ensure effective participation of all organisations of persons with disabilities, in decision-making processes concerning policies and legislation in all areas of the Convention, such as the strategy “Fulfilling Potential: Making it Happen”.
11. The Committee recommends that the State party:
(a) Allocate financial resources to support organisations representing persons with disabilities, including women and children with disabilities, and develop mechanisms to ensure an inclusive, strategic, and active involvement of organisations of persons with disabilities, including women, children and intersex persons in planning and implementing of all legislation and measures affecting the lives of persons with disabilities; and
(b) Establish mechanisms supporting the full participation of organisations of persons with disabilities in the design and implementation of strategic policies aimed at implementing the Convention across the State party, through objective measurable, financed and monitored strategic plan of actions.
B. Specific rights
Equality and non-discrimination (art. 5)
12. The Committee is concerned about perceptions in society stigmatizing persons with disabilities as living a life of less value and the termination of pregnancy at any stage on the basis of foetal impairment.
13. The Committee recommends that the State party changes abortion law accordingly. Women’s rights to reproductive and sexual autonomy should be respected without legalizing selective abortions on ground of foetus deficiency.
14. The Committee is concerned that the anti-discrimination legislation does not provide comprehensive and appropriate protection, particularly against multiple and intersectional discrimination, including in access to housing. It is also concerned about the low level of redress in rulings adopted by the judiciary while adjudicating cases of discrimination against persons with disabilities.
15. The Committee recommends that the State party, in line with Goal 10 of Sustainable Development Goals and targets 10.2 and 10.3, explicitly incorporate in its national legislation protection from, in particular multiple and intersectional discrimination on the basis of gender, age, race, disability, migrant, refugee and /or other status, and provide appropriate compensation, and redress for victims, and sanctions proportional with the severity of the violation.
16. The Committee is concerned that the duty to make reasonable adjustments to the common parts of residential properties in the Equality Act 2010 is not yet in force, and that persons with disabilities living in Northern Ireland are not adequately protected against direct and indirect disability-based discrimination and against discrimination by association.
17. The Committee recommends that the State party:
(a) Brings its anti-discrimination legislation into alignment with the Convention and speed up the process to bring into force all legislative provisions in the Equality Act 2010, including those concerning reasonable accommodation in the housing sector; and
(b) Take the necessary measures through the appropriate authorities to ensure that the Northern Ireland Executive reform on disability rights law reflects the recommendations made by Equality Commission for Northern Ireland in its 2012 Strengthening Protection for Disabled People report, to protect persons with disabilities in Northern Ireland from direct and indirect disability-based discrimination and discrimination through association.
Women with disabilities (art. 6)
18. The Committee is concerned that the rights of women and girls with disabilities have not been systematically mainstreamed into both the gender equality and disability agenda. The Committee is also concerned at the lack of measures and available data concerning the impact of multiple and intersectional discrimination of women and girls with disabilities.
19. The Committee recommends that the State party, in close consultation with organisations of women and girls with disabilities, mainstream the rights of women and girls with disabilities into disability and gender-equality policies. It also recommends that the State party, in line with the Committee’s general comment No. 3 (2016) and targets 5.1, 5.2 and 5.5 of the Sustainable Development Goals, adopt inclusive and targeted measures, including disaggregated data, to prevent multiple and intersectional discrimination of women and girls with disabilities, in particular those with intellectual and/or psychosocial disabilities, in education, employment, poverty, health, violence and access to justice.
Children with disabilities (art. 7)
20. The Committee is concerned about:
(a) The lack of policy framework addressing poverty of families with children with disabilities;
(b) The failure to incorporate the human rights model of disability in public policies and legislation concerning children and young persons with disabilities;
(c) The lack of monitoring mechanisms and reliable indicators;
(d) The absence of a general statutory duty upon public authorities to ensure adequate childcare for children with disabilities; and
(e) The reported increase of incidents of bullying, hate speech and hate crime against children with disabilities.
21. The Committee recommends that the State party, in close consultation with organisations of representing children with disabilities, develop and implement policies aimed at:
(a) Eliminating the higher level of poverty among families with children with disabilities;
(b) Incorporating the human rights model of disability into all laws and regulations concerning children with disabilities;
(c) Setting up an independent monitoring mechanism to oversee the development through reliable and meaningful indicators;
(d) Securing sufficient and disability-sensitive childcare as a statutory duty across the State party; and
(e) Strengthening measures to prevent bullying, hate speech and hate crime against children with disabilities.
Awareness Raising (art. 8)
22. The Committee is concerned at the persisting occurring incidents of negative attitudes, stereotypes and prejudice against persons with disabilities, in particular towards persons with intellectual and/or psychosocial disabilities and persons with neurological and cognitive conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer, as well as concerning their social protection entitlements
23. The Committee recommends that the State party, in close collaboration with organisations of persons with disabilities, strengthen its awareness-raising campaigns aimed at eliminating negative stereotypes and prejudice towards persons with disabilities, particularly persons with intellectual and/or psychosocial disabilities and persons with neurological and cognitive conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer. The State party should include mass-media strategies and campaigns, with different target audience groups based on the human rights model of disability.
Accessibility (art. 9)
24. The Committee is concerned by the lack of obligatory and implemented accessible standards relating to, among others, the physical environment, affordable housing, ICT, transport, and information in urban as well as rural areas. It is also concerned about the austerity measures that have hindered the advancement of accessibility for persons with disabilities.
25. The Committee recommends that the State party, in close collaboration with organisations of persons with disabilities:
(a) Adopt and implement obligatory accessibility standards for designing affordable and accessible physical environments, housing, ICT, information-formats and transport infrastructure, including emergency services and green and public spaces relating to both urban and rural areas;
(b) Pay attention to the links between article 9 of the Convention and the Committee’s general comment no. 2 (2014) on accessibility, and targets 9, 11.2 and 11.7 of the Sustainable Development Goals; and
(c) Monitor the development towards full inclusion through accessibility and sanctioning violations of accessibility regulations.
Right to life (art. 10)
26. The Committee observes with concern the substituted decision-making in matters of termination or withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment and care that is inconsistent with the right to life of persons with disabilities as equal and contributing members of society.
27. The Committee recalls that the right to life is absolute from which no derogations are permitted and recommends that the State party adopt a plan of action aimed at eliminating perceptions towards persons with disabilities as not having “a good and decent life”, but rather recognising persons with disabilities as equal persons and part of the diversity of humankind, and ensure access to life-sustaining treatment and/or care.
Situations of risk and humanitarian emergencies (art. 11)
28. The Committee is concerned about the impacts on persons with disabilities in situations of emergencies, including floods and fire, and the absence of comprehensive policies related to disaster risk reduction that include persons with disabilities in the planning, implementation and monitoring processes of disaster risk reduction.
29. The Committee recommends that the State party:
(a) Adopt a comprehensive disaster risk reduction plan and strategies that provide for accessibility and inclusion of persons with disabilities, in all situations of risk, in line with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, in close consultation with organizations of persons with disabilities;
(b) Mainstream disability in all humanitarian aid channels and involve organizations of persons with disabilities in setting priorities on aid distribution in the context of risk and humanitarian emergencies, paying attention to the Charter on Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action;
(c) Develop information and warning systems in humanitarian emergencies that are accessible for all persons with disabilities; and
(d) Ensure that organizations of persons with disabilities participate in the resilience teams at the local level and have an active role in advising on and formulating policies and guidelines regarding disaster preparedness and planning.
Equal recognition before the law (art. 12)
30. The Committee is concerned about:
(a) The legislation restricting legal capacity of persons with disabilities on the basis of actual or perceived impairment;
(b) The prevalence of substituted decision-making in legislation and practice, and the lack of full recognition of the right to individualized supported decision-making that fully respects the autonomy, will and preferences of persons with disabilities;
(c) The lack of appropriate and independent support to all asylum seekers and refugees with psychosocial and/or intellectual disabilities, in exercising their legal capacity; and
(d) The high number of black people with disabilities compulsorily detained and treated against their will.
31. The Committee recommends that the State party, in close consultation with organisations of persons with disabilities, including those representing persons from black and minority ethnic groups and in line with the Committee’s general comment no. 1 (2014), abolish all forms of substituted decision-making concerning all spheres and areas of life by reviewing and adopting new legislation in line with the Convention to initiate new policies in both mental capacity and mental health laws. It further urges the State party to step up efforts to foster research, data and good practices of, and speed up the development of supported decision-making regimes. It further recommends that the State party ensure that asylum seekers and refugees can exercise all rights enshrined in the Convention.
Access to justice (art. 13)
32. The Committee is concerned about:
(a) The low awareness among the judiciary and law enforcement officials concerning human rights of persons with disabilities;
(b) The information about persons with psychosocial and/or intellectual disabilities who do not receive appropriate support in exercising their legal capacity and access to justice;
(c) The barriers for persons with disabilities in access to civil legal aid as a consequence of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 in England and Wales and the introduction of fees for employment tribunals in the State party; and
(d) The regulations excluding persons with hearing impairments from participation in jury-procedures, and that personal assistants/interpreters are not considered to be procedural accommodation.
33. The Committee recommends that the State party, in close collaboration with organisations of persons with disabilities:
(a) Develop and implement capacity building programmes among the judiciary and law enforcement personnel, including judges, prosecutors, police officers and prison staff, about the rights of persons with disabilities;
(b) Design and implement a decision-making regime with guidelines and appropriate resources, focusing on respect of will and preferences of in particular persons with intellectual and/or psychosocial disabilities in court proceedings;
(c) Provide free or affordable legal aid for persons with disabilities in all areas of law and remove fees to access Court and Employment Tribunals;
(d) Ensure that all persons with disabilities are provided with the right and adequate procedural accommodation within the justice system, and enable in particular deaf persons through the use of sign language interpreters to fully and equally participate as jurors in court proceedings; and
(e) Take measures to empower persons with disabilities to work in the justice system as judges, prosecutors or other positions, with provision of all necessary support.
Liberty and security of the person (art. 14)
34. The Committee is concerned that the State party legislation provides for involuntary, compulsory treatment and detention both inside and outside hospitals on the basis of actual or perceived impairment.
35. The Committee recommends that the State party:
(a) Repeal legislation and practices that authorise non-consensual involuntary, compulsory treatment and detention of persons with disabilities on the basis of actual or perceived impairment; and
(b) Take appropriate measures to investigate and eliminate all forms of abuse of persons with disabilities in institutional facilities.
Freedom from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (art. 15)
36. The Committee is concerned about the continued use of physical, mechanical and chemical restraint, including the use of Taser guns and similar weapons on persons with disabilities that affects persons with psychosocial disabilities, in prisons, the youth justice system, health-care and education settings, as well as practices of segregation and seclusion. The Committee is deeply concerned that these measures disproportionally affect black or other persons with disabilities belonging to ethnic minorities. It is also concerned about the absence of a unified State party strategy to review these practices. The Committee is further concerned at the permissible use of electro-convulsive therapy, across the devolved governments and particularly in Northern Ireland, and the excessive antipsychotic medication in England and Wales.
37. The Committee recommends that the State party:
(a) Adopt appropriate measures to eradicate the use of restraint for reasons related to disability within all settings, and prevent the use of Taser guns against persons with disabilities, as well as practices of segregation and isolation that may amount to torture or inhuman or degrading treatment;
(b) Set up strategies, in collaboration with monitoring authorities and national human rights institutions, in order to identify and prevent the use of restraint for children and young persons with disabilities;
(c) Implement the outstanding recommendations of the Equality and Human Rights Commission inquiry into deaths in detention of adults with mental health conditions, aimed at enhancing art. 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights (See EHRC, (February 2015), Preventing Deaths in Detention of Adults with Mental Health Conditions: An Inquiry by the Equality and Human Rights Commission; and
(d) Prohibit and withdraw practices of non-consensual electro-convulsive therapy on the basis of any form of impairment, in all regions, and in particular work through appropriate authorities to ensure monitoring of this development in Northern Ireland.
Freedom from exploitation, violence and abuse (art. 16)
38. The Committee is concerned about abuse, ill-treatment, sexual violence and/or exploitation to women, children, intersex people and elderly persons with disabilities, and the insufficient measures to prevent all forms of exploitation, violence and abuse against persons with disabilities. It is further concerned at the information on cases of disability hate crime, in absence of consistent data collection and differences in legal provisions for sentencing different types of hate crime, particularly in England and Wales.
39. The Committee recommends that the State party, in close collaboration with organizations of persons with disabilities, and in line with target 16.3 of the Sustainable Development Goals:
(a) Establish measures to ensure equal access to justice and to safeguard persons with disabilities, particularly women, children, intersex people and elderly persons with disabilities from abuse, ill-treatment, sexual violence and/or exploitation;
(b) Define comprehensively the offense of disability hate crime, and ensure appropriate prosecutions and convictions; and
(c) Ensure that all facilities and programmes designed to serve persons with disabilities are effectively monitored by independent authorities, in line with article 16 (3) of the Convention.
Protecting the integrity of the person (art. 17)
40. The Committee is concerned that persons with disabilities, including women, intersex people, girls and boys with disabilities, are reported to continue to be subjected to involuntary medical treatment, including forced sterilization, and conversion surgeries.
41. The Committee recommends that the State party repeal all types of legislation, regulations and practices allowing any form of forced intervention and surgeries, and ensure that the right to free, prior and informed consent to treatment is upheld and that supported decision-making mechanisms are provided, paying particular attention to women, intersex people, girls and boys.
Liberty of movement and nationality (art. 18)
42. The Committee is concerned regarding the reservation to article 18 of the Convention.
43. The Committee recommends that the State party withdraw its reservation to article 18 of the Convention.
Living independently and being included in the community (art. 19)
44. The Committee is concerned about:
(a) That legislation fails to recognise living independently and being included in the community as a human right which enshrines individual autonomy, control and choice, as intrinsic aspects of the right to independent living;
(b) Policies and measures that affect the ability to live independently in the community, such as the lowering of social protection schemes related to housing, household income and budgets for independent living, as well as the closure of the Independent Living Fund.
(c) The transferred responsibility to the devolved administrations and local authorities for supporting independent living without providing appropriate and earmarked budget allocation;
(d) The fact that many persons with disabilities are still institutionalised and deprived of the right to live independently and being included within the community, when: i) persons with disabilities lack financial resources to afford personal assistance ii) local authorities are of the opinion that they can provide assistance within care homes, and iii) cost rationale constitutes the main parameter of an assessment; and
(e) The lack of support services and accessible public facilities, including personal assistance, for persons with disabilities, regardless of sex, gender, age and other status, to live independently and be included in the community.
45. The Committee recommends that the State party, in line with the Committee’s General Comment no. 5 (2017) Living independently and being included in the community and the Committee’s Inquiry concerning the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland carried out by the Committee under article 6 of the Optional Protocol to the Convention (CRPD/C/15/R.2/Rev.1):
(a) Recognise the right to living independently and being included in the community as a subjective right and the enforceability of all its elements and adopt rights-based policies, regulations and guidelines for ensuring implementation;
(b) Conduct periodic assessments in close consultation with organisations of persons with disabilities to address and prevent the negative effects of the policy reforms through sufficiently funded and appropriate strategies in the area of social support and living independently;
(c) Provide adequate and sufficient and earmarked funding to local authorities and administrations, the devolved governments and overseas territories to be able to provide resources allowing persons with disabilities to live independently and be included in the community and to exercise their right to choose their place of residence and where, and with whom to live;
(d) Set up a comprehensive plan, developed in close collaboration with organisations of persons with disabilities, aimed at deinstitutionalisation of persons with disabilities, and develop community-based independent living schemes through a holistic and crosscutting approach, including education, childcare, transport, housing, employment and social security; and
(e) Allocate sufficient resources to ensure that support services are available, accessible, affordable, acceptable and adaptable sensitive to different living conditions for all persons with disabilities in urban and rural areas.
Freedom of expression and opinion, and access to information (art. 21)
46. The Committee notes with concern:
(a) The lack of accessible information from public services and authorities and obligatory standards for making websites accessible and monitoring of ICT-accessibility;
(b) The insufficient resources for education, training and availability of and access to high-quality educated sign language interpreters, especially in relation to education, employment, health and leisure activities; and
(c) The lack of training and education of families, classmates, co-workers in high-quality sign language communication providing better abilities for inclusion within the community.
47. The Committee recommends that the State party, in consultation with organisations representing persons with disabilities:
(a) Develop obligatory standards securing accessibility to information channels based on ICT-technology;
(b) Ensure that legislation provides for the right to educated high-quality sign language interpretation and other forms of alternative communication in all spheres of life for deaf persons and hard of hearing persons in line with the Convention; and
(c) Allocate resources for education of children with hearing impairment, their families and others, such as classmates or co-workers in British Sign Language and tactile language.
Respect for private and family life (art. 23)
48. The Committee is concerned that parents with disabilities do not receive appropriate services and support, resulting in children being removed from the family environment and placed in foster care, group homes or institutions. It is also concerned at the insufficient funding for parents of deaf children to learn sign language.
49. The Committee recommends that the State party:
(a) Ensure appropriate support for parents with disabilities to fulfil effectively their role as parents and that disability is not used as a reason to place their children in care or remove their child from the home; and
(b) Ensure that local authorities have the legal duty to allocate and provide funds for parents wishing to learn sign language.
Education (art. 24)
50. The Committee takes note of the information provided by the State party of the continuing process to assess the possibility to withdraw its reservation to article 24 Clause 2 (a) and (b) of the Convention.
51. The Committee recommends that the State party speed up the process aimed at withdrawing its reservation to article 24 Clause 2 (a) and (b) of the Convention.
52. The Committee is concerned at:
(a) The persistence of a dual education system that segregates children with disabilities to special schools, including based on parental choice;
(b) The number of children with disabilities in segregated education environments is increasing;
(c) The education system is not geared to respond to the requirements for high-quality inclusive education, in particular the practices of school authorities turning down enrolment of student with disability who is deemed ‘as disruptive to other classmates’; and
(d) Education and training of teachers in inclusion competences is not reflecting the requirements of inclusive education.
53. The Committee recommends that the State party, in close consultation with organisations of persons with disabilities, especially organisations representing children and young persons with disabilities, and in line with the Committee’s general comment No. 4 (2014) on inclusive education, and Sustainable Development Goal 4, targets 4.5 and 4.8:
(a) Develop a comprehensive and coordinated legislative and policy framework for inclusive education, and a timeframe to ensure that mainstream schools foster real inclusion of children with disabilities in the school environment and teachers and all other professionals and persons in contact with children understand the concept of inclusion and are able to enhance inclusive education;
(b) Adopt regulation, monitor development and offer remedies in combating disability-related discrimination and/or harassment, including deciding upon schemes for compensation;
(c) Adopt and implement a coherent strategy, financed with concrete timelines and measurable goals, on increasing and improving inclusive education. The strategy must:
(i) Ensure the implementation of laws, decrees and regulations improving the extent and quality of inclusive education in classrooms, support provisions and teacher training, including pedagogical capabilities, across all levels providing for high-quality inclusive environments, including within breaks between lessons and through socialisation outside “education time”;
(ii) Setup initiatives raising awareness about and support to inclusive education among parents of children with disabilities; and
(iii) Provide sufficient, relevant data on the number of students both in inclusive and segregated education disaggregated by impairment, age, sex and ethnic background, and further provide data on the outcome of the education reflecting the capabilities of the students.
Health (art. 25)
54. The Committee is concerned about the uneven access to health across the State party, including the devolved governments and overseas territories, and about:
(a) Systemic, physical, attitudinal and/or communicative barriers preventing persons with disabilities from accessing mainstream health services including: inaccessible furnishing, training and treatment equipment, medicine and supplies, means of information and communication, limited access to clinics and healthcare professionals, hospitals, dentists, gynaecologists and obstetricians;
(b) Barriers for persons with disabilities to obtain privacy regarding management of personal health-related data;
(c) Lack of access to sexual and reproductive health-care services and lack of information and family planning education in accessible formats for persons with disabilities, in particular women and girls with disabilities;
(d) The reports about cases of non-attempting resuscitation of persons with intellectual and/or psychosocial disabilities; and
(e) The suicide rate among persons with disabilities, its higher prevalence in particular in Northern Ireland.
55. The Committee recommends that the State party, in close collaboration with representative organisations of persons with disabilities:
(a) Develop a targeted measurable and financed plan of action aiming at eliminating barriers in access to health care and services, monitor and measure its progress, especially in relation to persons with intellectual and/or psychosocial disabilities, and neurological and cognitive conditions;
(b) Set up protocols for medical services that respect the right to privacy in information about health of persons with disabilities;
(c) Ensure equal access to sexual and reproductive health-care services, as set out in target 3.7 of the Sustainable Development Goals, provide information and family planning education for persons with disabilities in accessible formats, including Easy Read;
(d) Ensure that medical professionals are under the obligation to enforce standards set up in guidance and criteria on ‘Do Not Resucitate’ orders on an equal basis with others; and
(e) Address the high suicide rate among persons with disabilities, especially persons with intellectual and/or psychosocial disabilities.
Work and employment (art. 27)
56. The Committee is concerned about:
(a) The persistent employment gap and pay gap for work of equal value of persons with disabilities unemployed especially women with disabilities, psychosocial and/or intellectual disabilities as well as persons with visual impairments;
(b) The insufficient measures of affirmative actions and provision of reasonable accommodation improving the possibility of employment for persons with disabilities on the open labour market, despite the obligations contained in the European Union Directive 2000/78/EC on non-discrimination in the work place;
(c) The process related to the Employment and Support Allowance and that the Work Capability Assessment emphasises a functional evaluation of skills and capabilities, rather than recognising the interactions between impairment and barriers in society faced by persons with disabilities; and
(d) The upholding of the reservation by the State party to article 27, which disproportionally affects persons with disabilities actively involved in military matters.
57. The Committee recommends that the State party, in close collaboration with organisations of persons with disabilities, and in line with the Committee’s Inquiry concerning the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland carried out by the Committee under article 6 of the Optional Protocol to the Convention (CRPD/C/15/R.2/Rev.1):
(a) Develop and decide upon an effective employment policy for persons with disabilities aimed at ensuring decent work for all persons with disabilities, bearing in mind the target of one million jobs for persons with disabilities and envisaged by the State Party, and ensure, equal pay for work of equal value, especially focusing on women with disabilities, persons with psychosocial and/or intellectual disabilities as well as persons with visual impairments, and monitor development;
(b) Ensure that reasonable accommodation is provided to all persons with disabilities who require it in the workplace, that regular training on reasonable accommodation is available to employers and employees without disabilities, and that dissuasive and effective sanctions are in place in cases of denial of reasonable accommodation;
(c) Ensure that legal and administrative requirements of the process to assess working capabilities, including the Work Capability Assessment, and those who conduct the assessments are qualified in line with the human rights model of disability, and take into consideration work related as well as other personal circumstances. The State party must ensure adjustments and support necessary to access to work and recognise financial support not subjected to sanctions or job seeking activities;
(d) Withdraw its reservation to article 27 of the Convention; and
(e) Bear in mind the links between article 27 of the Convention and target 8.5 of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Adequate standard of living and social protection (art. 28)
58. The Committee is concerned about:
(a) The impact of austerity measures and antipoverty initiatives, as a consequence of the financial crisis in 2008/2009, which resulted in higher levels of poverty among persons with disabilities and their families, in particular among families with children with disabilities;
(b) The negative impact on the standard of living of persons with disabilities, as a consequence of, among others, the reduction in social support, unemployment allowance, independent payment/budget, the Universal Credit and the insufficient compensation for disability-related costs;
(c) The tightening of eligibility criteria and local differences to social protection and support during the transition from Disability Living Allowance to the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) within the State party that has reduced the standard of living for persons with disabilities and their families; and
(d) The detrimental impact of the Employment and Support Allowance’s conditionality and sanctions on persons with disabilities and the limited access to reconsideration and repeal procedures.
59. The Committee recommends that the State party, in close collaboration with organisations of persons with disabilities across all territorial entities, including overseas territories, and in line with the Committee’s Inquiry concerning the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland carried out by the Committee under article 6 of the Optional Protocol to the Convention (CRPD/C/15/R.2/Rev.1), guided by article 28 of the Convention and implementing target 10.2 of the Sustainable Development Goals:
(a) Introduce, adopt and implement legislative frameworks to ensure that social protection policies and programmes across the State party secure income levels for all persons with disabilities and their families, by taking into account the additional costs related to disability, and ensuring the possibility of persons with disabilities to exercise their parental responsibilities. The State party must ensure that persons under the new Employment and Support Allowance Work Related Activity Group access to full compensation of disability related costs.
(b) Carry out a cumulative impact assessment, with disaggregated data, about the recent and coming reforms on the social protection for persons with disabilities, and in close collaboration with organisations of persons with disabilities define, implement and monitor measures to tackle retrogression in their standard of living and use it as a basis for policy development across the State party; and
(c) Repeal the Personal Independent Payment (Amendment) Regulations of 2017 and ensure that eligibility criteria and assessments to access Personal Independent Payments, the Employment Support Allowance, and the Universal Credit are in line with the human rights model of disability;
(d) Ensure sufficient budget allocation for local authorities to accomplish their responsibilities regarding assistance for persons with disabilities, and extend support packages to mitigate negative impacts of the social security reform in Northern Ireland; and
(e) Conduct a review of the conditionality and sanction regimes concerning the Employment and Support Allowance, and tackle negative consequences on mental health and situation of persons with disabilities.
Participation in political and public life (art. 29)
60. The Committee is concerned at the lack of information on accessibility and reasonable accommodation for persons with disabilities, during all stages of the electoral cycle, including the facilitating of their exercise of the right to vote, vote in private and be assisted by an assistant of one’s own choice. It is also concerned about the low number of persons with disabilities running for or holding elected public office.
61. The Committee recommends that the State party in close consultation with organizations of persons with disabilities, take appropriate measures to secure accessibility for persons with disabilities, regardless of type of impairment, and repeal all provisions restricting the right of persons with disabilities to vote and stand for election, and further to adopt measures to guarantee the right of universal, secret suffrage.
Participation in cultural life, recreation, leisure and sport (art. 30)
62. The Committee is concerned that the State party has not ratified the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired or Otherwise Print Disabled. It is further concerned upon the low level of accessibility to sport stadiums allowing for individual seating for persons with disabilities and their families, friends and personal assistants; and to the national heritage buildings and environments, including those appointed as UNESCO heritage.
63. The Committee recommends that the State party:
(a) Take all necessary steps to ratify and implement the Marrakesh Treaty as soon as possible; and
(b) Adopt a concrete plan of action with resources and measurable objectives to implement legislation, regulation and standardisation securing persons with disabilities access to inclusive participation and activities to all sports facilities, the heritage and UNESCO appointed environments.
C. Specific obligations
Statistics and data collection (art. 31)
64. The Committee is concerned at the lack of unified data collection system and indicators across all devolved governments and overseas territories, concerning the situation of persons with disabilities. It also notes the limited disaggregated data collection in surveys and censuses on the general population.
65. The Committee recommends that the State party, in line with Goal 17of the Sustainable Development Goals, increase significantly the availability of high-quality, timely and reliable data disaggregated by, among others, income, sex, age, gender, race, ethnic origin, migratory asylum-seeking and refugee status, disability, geographic location and other characteristics relevant in national contexts, including in all general population surveys and censuses. It also recommends that the State party use the sets of questions and tools developed by the Washington Group on Disability Statistics for the collection of comparable disability statistics.
International cooperation (art. 32)
66. The Committee is concerned that the State party is not yet systematically including the rights of persons with disabilities across their international cooperation and development programmes.
67. The Committee recommends that the State party, in close collaboration with organisations of persons with disabilities in the countries where they work:
(a) Expedite the process to update the Department for International Development’s Disability Framework, including by adopting measurable targets and specific commitments to advance the rights of persons with disabilities in the countries where they work;
(b) Put in place the necessary measures to ensure that all relevant departments of the State party spending Overseas Development Assistance systemically monitor and include persons with disabilities in their international development and cooperation; and
(c) Carry out a consultation process involving organisations of persons with disabilities into all policies and programmes aimed at implementing the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals, nationally as well as internationally.
National implementation and monitoring (art. 33)
68. The Committee notes with concern the lack of comprehensive mechanisms and sufficient resources that limit the Office for Disability Issues in its mandate to coordinate the implementation of the Convention across the State party as provided by article 33 (1) of the Convention.
69. The Committee recommends that the State party set up an appropriate coordinating structure of focal-points, sufficiently funded to strengthen the implementation of the Convention in all devolved governments and Overseas Territories.
70. The Committee is concerned about the lack of resources available for the effective and comprehensive monitoring conducted by the independent monitoring framework established in accordance with article 33 (2) of the Convention, which hinder the support to organisations of persons with disabilities to participate in the monitoring process.
71. The Committee recommends that the State party in all its entities, ensures the independence of and provide for sufficient funding of both established monitoring frameworks and organisations of persons with disabilities to be able to carry out the monitoring of the implementation of the Convention across the State party, bearing in mind the guidelines on independent monitoring frameworks and their participation in the work of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD/C/1/Rev.1, annex).
Cooperation and technical assistance
72. Under article 37 of the Convention, the Committee can provide technical guidance to the State party on any queries addressed to the experts via the secretariat. The State party can also seek technical assistance from United Nations specialized agencies with offices in the country or the region.
IV. Follow-up
Dissemination of information
73. The Committee requests that the State party, within 12 months and in accordance with article 35, paragraph 2, of the Convention, provide information in writing on the measures taken to implement the Committee’s recommendations as set forth in paragraphs 45, 57, and 59, above.
74. The Committee recommends that the State party, in close cooperation and collaboration with organizations of persons with disabilities, initiate a process to implement and follow-up the recommendations issued by the Committee on its report adopted pursuant to proceedings under article 6 of the Optional Protocol (CRPD/C/15/R.2/Rev.1) and provide information to the Committee on the progress and achievements of the process every 12 months until the next periodic examination takes place.
75. The Committee requests the State party to implement the recommendations contained in the present concluding observations. It recommends that the State party transmit the concluding observations for consideration and action to members of the Government and Parliament, officials in relevant ministries, devolved administrations, Crown Dependencies, Overseas Territories, local authorities, organizations of persons with disabilities and members of relevant professional groups, such as education, medical and legal professionals, as well as to the media, using modern social communication strategies.
76. The Committee strongly encourages the State party to involve and financially support civil society organizations, in particular organizations of persons with disabilities, in the preparation of its periodic report.
77. The Committee requests the State party to disseminate the present concluding observations widely, including to non-governmental organizations and representative organizations of persons with disabilities, and to persons with disabilities themselves and members of their families, in national and minority languages, including sign language, and in accessible formats, including Easy Read formats, and to make them available on the government website on human rights.
Next periodic report
78. The Committee requests the State party to submit its combined second, third, and fourth reports by 8 July 2023 and to include in them information on the implementation of the recommendations made in the present concluding observations. The Committee invites the State party to consider submitting the above-mentioned reports under the Committee’s simplified reporting procedure, according to which the Committee prepares a list of issues at least one year prior to the due date set for the report of a State party. The replies of a State party to such a list of issues constitute its report.

Putting Disability back into SEND.

Posted on March 15, 2017

Putting Disability back into SEND.
Richard Rieser, World of Inclusion
As an ex-teacher, SEND specialist, a disabled person, a SENDIST panel member and campaigner and trainer for inclusive education I am increasingly concerned about the Children and Family Act reforms.

The Statutory Inclusion guidance was dropped in September 2014 and has not been replaced. The Government is increasing the provision for special schools and not encouraging good inclusive practice in mainstream schools. This is despite the Government being a signatory of the UN Convention on the Right of Persons with Disabilities and in particular Article 24 on Education which has recently been clarified as a right to Inclusive Education by the CRPD Committee in General Comment No 4.(Sept 2016) and the Government signing up to the Sustainable Development Goals –No.4 specifically being the development of an inclusive, quality education system for all. (…/CRPD-C-GC-4.doc).
Article 24: A Right to Inclusive Education guarantees all Disabled learners a right to participate in all forms of mainstream education with appropriate support. When the UK Government ratified the UNCRPD in June 2009 it decided to place a number of restrictions on its UNCRPD obligations which subsequent Governments have upheld.
The Government, when it adopted the UNCRPD and on Article 24, made a declaration and reservation. The first is an Interpretative Declaration which clarifies the UK Government commitment to developing inclusive education and defines the general education system and unlike all other signatory nations maintains special schools. The Interpretative Declaration text states that:

Interpretative Declaration:
“Education – Convention Article 24 Clause 2 (a) and (b)
The United Kingdom Government is committed to continuing to develop an inclusive system where parents of disabled children have increasing access to mainstream schools and staff, which have the capacity to meet the needs of disabled children. The General Education System in the United Kingdom includes mainstream and special schools, which the UK Government understands is allowed under the Convention.”
We notice very little emphasis in the SEND Code of Practice or in Government initiatives to develop this increasing capacity. In reality with a large increase in numbers of parent seeking special schools in recent years would suggest a reduction in capacity to meet the needs of disabled children. The population of maintained special schools has gone from 87,010 in 2007 to 105,365 in 2016. Add to this the number of children with a statement or plan in independent schools which over the same period has risen from 7,760 to 13,500 and this is a definite trend away from mainstream in terms of placement.

The UK Government also placed a Reservation against Article 24 which states that:Reservation:
“Education – Convention Article 24 Clause 2 (a) and 2 (b)
The United Kingdom reserves the right for disabled children to be educated outside their local community where more appropriate education provision is available elsewhere. Nevertheless, parents of disabled children have the same opportunity as other parents to state a preference for the school at which they wish their child to be educated”. This reservation has among other things allowed the increase by Local Authorities of sending teenagers and young adults with SEND away to institutions many miles from their homes which the Lenehan inquiry is currently examining.

Adverse Impact of other education reforms
The main problem is that the SEND reforms are not a leading part of the Government’s education changes. The push for more selection with grammar schools, setting up more free schools especially special schools, the reduction in real funding and reorganisation of funding to one national formula, the introduction of a new knowledge based narrower curriculum and more testing of our children, the abolition of national curriculum levels and the loss of parental control through the replacement of governors with proprietors of academy chains all militate against the inclusion of children and young people and those with special educational needs.
What disabled children and young people need
As a disabled person who was a disabled child in the school system I know the key issues are feeling safe and not being bullied and having your individual needs addressed in a way that takes one’s learning forward with confidence and support . Not making you feel that your learning difficulties are your fault or that your physical difference is that something that diminishes your self esteem.

As the vast majority 90.6 percent of school pupils and students with SEN are in mainstream schools ( 121,525 with statements or EHC Plans and 991,980 on school support) then it is interesting how little emphasis there is in the SEND Code of practice on meeting their needs. An emphasis in the reforms on SEN –Assess, Plan, Do, Review- hardly compensates for all the Government measures listed above that detract from inclusion. (DFE SEN Statistics July 2016 gathered January 2016)
The SEND Code of Practice limits itself to Chapter 1 to talk about disability. But the vast majority of children with special educational needs also tick the definition under the 2010 Equality Act of disability. This definition is not a high threshold and was drawn up in this way to protect from discrimination.
Equality Act and disability

To have rights under the disability part of the Equality Act a child or young person needs to have a physical or mental impairment (loss of function) that has a substantial (more than minor or trivial) long term(12 months or more or likely to last 12 months or more) impact on their ability to carry out day to day activities. To be recognised by the school the school as disabled the child does not need a medical diagnosis. The school can be told by the parents or surmise this for themselves. Thus if the school has placed a child/young person on School Support it is very likely that the definition will apply to them. It is also likely to apply to young people with medical needs and mental health issues who are not on SEN support.
As soon as the school is informed they have a duty to make individual reasonable adjustments including providing auxiliary aids and support for those who count as disabled. However, the duty to make reasonable adjustments is and anticipatory duty. This means that before knowing about an individual they have to adjust their policies, provision, criteria and practices to not put disabled people at a substantial disadvantage and take steps to meet the likely needs of disabled learners. Governing bodies or the proprietor are under this duty. Policies, criteria, provision and practices for e.g. admission, exclusions, sports activities, school activities and trips, lunch time and after school activities and access to learning, should have been regularly reviewed and adjusted to not place disabled people at substantial detriment and ensure they take account of the need to make reasonable adjustments.
The school is also under a duty to not discriminate directly, indirectly or on the basis of issues arising from disability and to eliminate bullying and harassment. Disabled children and young people experience the highest level of bullying and harassment in our schools. The Anti Bullying Alliance has been focusing on this for the last two years and the next two years with Government money, but unless staff and students take ownership of zero bullying not much will change.

A key part of this change and making schools habitable for disabled children and students requires all schools to engage in developing an understanding of the social oppression that is disability. It is not the medical model/ deficit approach, but rather understanding that the systematic devaluing and negative attitudes to those who are physically and mentally different is the result of culturally rooted prejudice and discrimination that must be understood and challenged.
UK Disability History Month provides an opportunity each year to focus on this change. It runs from the middle of November to the middle of December. This coming year’s focus is Disability and Visual Arts. Get your child’s school to participate. . There is a wealth of material on the website for teachers to use.

What should Parents do to ensure their disabled children are getting their rights.
Many acts of discrimination occur inadvertently. But if they continue once you have pointed out your child is disabled and does not feel treated fairly and the school does not acknowledge and /or does not make reasonable adjustments. Continue to ask questions. Keep a written record. Complain to head if not satisfied. Always take someone with you as a witness and note taker. Complain to the Governing body or proprietor. If you do not get a change or the act of discrimination put your child at a substantial disadvantage contact SENDIST. If you are battling to get the right school support this could be part of your disability discrimination claim. Usually the threat of the Tribunal will get an apology from the school, but sometimes they will fight to the end. If you think you have a strong case don’t be put off. Make sure you have as much as possible fully documented. However you have time after you have filed a case to ask the school for other documentation.

Most of all Heads and school staff need disability equality training and students need to be exposed to the social model of disability and become allies of their disabled peers struggle for equality.

How ten years of the CRPD have been a victory for disability rights

Posted on December 13, 2016

How ten years of the CRPD have been a victory for disability rights
By IDA – December 8, 2016
CRPD Committee members and High Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein
Ten years ago the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) was adopted. It was the first internationally legally binding instrument to specifically address the rights of persons with disabilities at a global level. It was achieved with the active participation of the disability rights movement. This set a new standard for civil society involvement in UN negotiations. Diane Richler, former Chair of the International Disability Alliance (IDA), and Past-President of Inclusion International, remembers this as “not just a victory for disability rights, it marked a high point in solidarity and collaboration within the whole disability community”.
Originally published at the Huffington Post:…
“Deaf persons were advocating for the rights of persons with psychosocial disabilities, persons with psychosocial disabilities were advocating for accessible technology for Blind persons, men and women with disabilities were fighting together for gender equity – it gave a sense that collaborative advocacy across countries, contexts and communities is possible” recalled Lisa Adams, who today works with the Disability Rights Fund.
The process of negotiating this convention was far faster than other human rights treaties. Stefan Tromel, former Executive Director of IDA, now a Senior Disability Specialist with the International Labour Organization, who also represented the disability rights movement during the negotiations, credits this to the “insistence of organizations of persons with disabilities to immediately start on implementation after it was adopted”.
After ten years building on the galvanizing impact of the agenda, there is much for us all to celebrate about the achievements of the community, which were forged from this process. However – as always – there is still more to be done.
Since its adoption, the CRPD has raised awareness about disability as both a matter of human rights and of development. It also marks a paradigm shift, where persons with disabilities were no longer viewed as objects of charity but as active members of societies, in charge of their own lives, with free and informed consent and with the same rights to participation, engagement and inclusion, as everyone.
This is why, as negotiations began around the new global sustainable development framework to follow the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the CRPD was used as a foundation by many disability organisations, including the International Disability Alliance (IDA) and the International Disability and Development Consortium (IDDC), to lobby for the inclusion of persons with disabilities in international development policy. The movement came together to ensure that when “leave no one behind” was adopted by the UN as an overall mantra for the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – that this included persons with disabilities in a meaningful and measurable way. It marked a huge step forwards from the MDGs, where the evidence shows that people with disabilities were systematically excluded.
Today, by overlaying the CRPD with the SDGs, countries have clearer paths towards including the rights of persons with disabilities throughout implementing their national development programmes.
The challenge is that both the SDGs and the CRPD are hugely ambitious agendas. They bring together progressive perspectives on development, environment, humanitarian response and climate, and rely on a world open to multilateral cooperation, one where nations are outward looking and are supportive of global responses to global problems. Not a world which looks inwards and seeks narrow self-interested relationships, which has in the past fuelled an arms race, not the human race. The resourcing and political commitment to the CRPD and the SDGs have to be forthcoming for the rights of persons with disabilities to be continuously realized to herald a new era of ‘leaving no one behind’.
Despite huge leaps forward in the inclusion of persons with disabilities in the last ten years, there often remains an assumption that persons with disabilities will automatically participate in development programs. It is increasingly recognized that persons with disabilities do not benefit from global development unless their participation is proactively planned for and resourced from the start. Removing the barriers to participation and unlocking the vast potential of persons with disabilities is critical to addressing global poverty reduction, and empowering people to access their rights and actively participate in all aspects of society.
To date 170 States, and the European Union, have ratified the Convention. Progress is accelerating, with the Antigua and Barbuda, Sri Lanka, Brunei Darussalam, Finland, Comoros, the Netherlands, Iceland, and the Central African Republic ratifying in 2016, as well as Belarus and Somoa ratifying in just the last week.
Today IDA and IDDC, the two largest global networks of disability rights organisations, are calling on every remaining UN Member State to ratify or accede to the CRPD, in respect of the ten-year anniversary of this critical convention and in recognition of the one billion persons with disabilities, worldwide, who are often marginalised, excluded or prevented from contributing to the development of their households, communities and countries.
The CRPD is an opportunity to accept and implement a global norm – the rights of people with disabilities – which, as it is realized, advances social, economic and developmental rights for everyone in all societies. A norm which Mr. Tromel believes could deliver a “huge shift from the view of persons with disabilities as passive recipients of benefits, to progressive social protections”. If governments seize this opportunity they will harness the talents and potential of this whole generation to fully contribute to their communities. This transformation is realistic but it does require strong national commitments to multilateral solutions and rights-based approaches to development.
We believe this is a real possibility in this new era – where a convention, ratified by a huge number of countries, is aligned with an inclusive global development framework that will take us through to 2030. Never before has there been such momentum within the disability community. Failure to take advantage of this critical opportunity would not be forgiven by the generations to come.
If we want global change that truly benefits everyone, the international community must act now to make disability-inclusive development a reality. This is the world we demand.
– Vladimir Cuk, Executive Director of the International Disability Alliance, and Dominic Haslam, International Disability and Development Consortium.


Posted on December 2, 2016




This year, International Day of Persons with Disabilities (3rd December) assumes an even greater significance as it coincides with the 10th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) – CRPD@10. At UNICEF, we are celebrating CRPD@10 for children through highlighting our contribution to the development, ratification and implementation of the CRPD both globally and at the country level and we encourage GPcwd partners to do the same.

Looking back on these ten years, it is clear that the work around the Convention has inspired a global movement to promote the rights of people with disabilities, including children. In the almost 170 countries which have ratified the CRPD, laws and policies have been changed to better protect them, to offer improved access to services and to make their participation in the society possible.

There are many ways to celebrate this milestone, including by drawing attention to children with disabilities through social media. Therefore we encourage you to use existing materials that GPcwd helped to prepared. We are also sharing some UNICEF resources that we will be using. Please feel free to use these materials, as well as re-tweet and share from the UNICEF social media accounts. Please find attached:

  • Social media assets on Inclusive Education LINK
  • Social Media assets on #EndViolence LINK
  • Sample tweets prepared by UNICEF for December 2 (below)

    Primary: #thisability and #CRPDnow

    Suggested Tweets
    Given the chance, children with disabilities play, learn, dream and achieve. #thisability

    When children – no matter their abilities – learn and play together, barriers crumble. #thisability

    Children with disabilities have the right to be a part of not apart from their families, communities and the world. #thisability #CRPDnow

    All children have the right to be defined by what they can do, not what they cannot do. #thisability

    Without accurate data, children with disabilities run the risk of not being counted and not counting. #thisability #CRPDnow

    Neglect and physical and sexual abuse are 3 to 4 times more likely for children with disabilities. #CRPDNow #thisability

    All children have the same rights – no matter what. #thisability #CRPDNow

  • Set of 10 cards celebrating UNICEF’s progress in light of CRPD@10. See LINK

    We would also be glad to know how you are celebrating these key events in your organization. Please share any updates from your event with Anna Burlyaeva by 10th December and they will be added into the next December GPcwd Newsletter.

Richard Rieser speaking at UNICEF/ IDA side meeting on Inclusive Education at Social Forum in Geneva on 5th October 2016.

Posted on October 10, 2016

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“ I’m very pleased this General Comment No 4 has been published because when we were negotiating the Convention there were three major votes on Article 24 and there were many attempts to subvert it and I notice that those attempts still came in the General Comment, but the CRPD committee won out and it stuck to human rights principles, so that they are to be applauded. Now our job is to implement it, but the Comment will help us in the implementation.

From my experience as a disabled person and a teacher I could tell my life story but three little glimpses will suffice. When I was five I was not allowed to go to the ordinary school. I was a fire risk. I had polio when I was a kid. I could climb trees and ride a bike, but I wasn’t allowed in school. I had to be sent somewhere separate. When I wanted to go to secondary school there was a lift, but I wasn’t allowed to use the lift only the teachers used the lift. There was no accommodation there. This is before we had any legislation. When I became a teacher myself I had to go through a demeaning medical to see whether I was fit to teach. I asked the doctor what’s the strength and shape of my legs have to do with teaching. He couldn’t comment but that law is still in place in England. There is discrimination to disabled people who want to teach all around the world.

To me the barriers are the key thing and the barriers should be addressed in advance, it should be anticipating adjustment duty and is an anticipatory duty all schools all colleges all education establishments need to be thinking about this before a student with disabilities arrives. Not after.

It is something that should be built into the practice, design, and organization of all education. Of course that isn’t happening and governments hide behind the fears of parents about inclusion. Quite often I see this happening with opposition to inclusion by creating fear amongst parents. This is one the major things that is used by governments to actually stop inclusion moving forward and those who get paid a lot in Europe- those who head up special schools get paid more than other teachers. They don’t want to lose that position they create fears amongst parents. There is very little good practice of inclusion ever shown to parents, before they make the choice.

I prefer to point to the Government in Britain a few years ago. We made reasonable adjustments films in 40 schools for them, which was sent to every school in the country. It was clear that all schools could make reasonable accommodations, most were not bothering, 20 percent were doing well, 20 percent did not bother at all even though it was already the law. Having laws is not enough. You have to create a culture of change and that’s why we built an Alliance of parents, teachers, disabled people, young people, young disabled people and other professionals- teachers, education psychologists to fight for inclusion. That is a model that needs to be used in every country to bring together all those forces who want to fight for inclusion. To actually force governments to change, because they’re not going to change, there are too many vested interests wanting to keep things as they are.


One of the biggest places of vested interests are the universities, which are full of people who have learned to do special education. When we drafted the Convention we didn’t mention special education needs. You can look at the General Comment and there’s no mention of special education need. But in the Country Reports that come to the CRPD Committee over and over and over again governments say the special education people are meeting the needs of children with disabilities. Special education does not understand inclusion and promotes integration or segregation.. We have to understand the paradigm shift is away from the medical model to human rights model and that means in education moving away from exclusion, segregation, integration to inclusion.

Just placing children in a mainstream school some will survive as our colleague from Africa said, but many will have not survived through the process she went through. It isn’t good enough to just leave children to survive. We have to address the barriers, we have to get much better at sharing how we address those barriers around the world. The last thing I wanted to say is about some work I’ve done for Unicef on teachers around the world in preparing them for children with disabilities .

I find that the goals that we put forward on the sustainable development goals don’t address teachers sufficiently. You can’t have inclusion without teachers and if you don’t address teachers and their training and have mandatory training for teachers we will still be here in 30 years’ time talking about inclusion.

Education International which represents 40 million teachers is supporting inclusion, many local branches don’t because they feel under pressure, but it’s about advocacy. In my own union the National Union of Teachers in England it took me eight years to win a position of inclusion and in the next 16 years since then it’s come under attack, practically at every Conference, but we still maintain that position as the largest teaching union in Europe. So it can be done, but you have to have advocates to fight for it.

Teachers need training, all teachers need training in understanding inclusion in the widest aspects of it, but they also need a twin track approach. They must have training on the reasonable accommodations and support that people with different impairments need. This is not for specialist. This should be for every teacher. Then we also need local resource centres in every district throughout the world which will provide the extra specialists support and technology for inclusion.

People have talked about technology and say well we don’t need technology, the technology we’ve got is very important. 80 percent of people in Africa now access a mobile phone. Through a mobile phone we can actually access materials for the whole curriculum and that’s particularly important to deaf people and blind people. So we can actually get this across. These don’t need to be run where there’s electricity. They can be charged up at a central place.

When I was going around the school in South Africa saw a boy sitting in front of a class and the class was about large numbers, how many, what was the size of number to get to the sun, the moon and so on. The class had to work out was it larger or smaller. I saw this boy sitting out. I asked the teacher why have you not included him. Well he has cerebral palsy was the reply. This was a school where Norway had spent three years supporting the development of inclusion. That lasted only when they were doing it. We have to build resilience so it lasts after interventions, all you have to do is draw a grid squares on paper, he can point at it smaller larger so on. He could join in as well whether he can write or not, It’s the concept in his brain that needs to be developed. This lack of being able to look out of the box is what we have to develop in all teacher. They have to become creative not part of a machine that is linked unfortunately, and this is the bigger threat to inclusive education, around the world to big business moving into education and judging education by results on a normative basis.

In the PISA tests which are being used increasingly which in which school students are compared. But PISA leaves out four percent of children. Those who are disabled so we’re not comparing like with like. So I will leave it there. There’s much more I could say. Thank you “.

Answer to questions
“There are a lot of questions there. There were a whole lot around special segregated education. I think we need to remember where it came from, it came from Europe and North America. The idea that particularly children with learning difficulties had to be kept separate from the rest of the population in institutions because they would reduce the gene pool and lead to weakening of the gene pool and this was a eugenics measure. Eugenics held sway in all of the main universities right up until the 1960s. And it was only in the 50’s that it began to shift with some forward work from psychologists showing that actually everybody could learn.

Until that time people still held the view across the world that there was a fixed level of intelligence and you couldn’t change it. So that was a real mistake and it led to us inheriting a whole lot of institutions and universities departments that teach special Ed. There’s no justification for that. You need to approach each university as an advocate, saying we want a course of inclusive education for our teachers particularly in eastern Europe and Russia. They have a further refinement Defectology, which came from a Stalinist view of education where they had to actually force children to meet the barriers in the environment and deal with the barriers themselves, rather than removing the barriers, it is a ridiculous idea and it has to be challenged wherever it takes place.

We can show where there are special schools and mainstream schools together with equal samples of children, in every case the disabled children do better in the mainstream schools than they do in the special schools. In addition to this where there are residential special schools there are major issues of child protection and abuse, and there are hundreds and hundreds of cases around the world of children being abused because of the power relationship of adults to children. So it’s not a good idea for parents to think this is a good place to send their children. We have to argue with parents to say no this is not the right place and maybe mainstream isn’t right but we have to work together to make them the right place.

We have to fight together do that, now the one thing about young children is they will take their lead from adults. If they’re clear about bullying and where it comes from the strange ideas, as I just mentioned in the past, they will say this isn’t fair and be the ones to challenge the bullying and name calling. These techniques can be used anywhere around the world so the proof the pudding is that you can actually do.

The last thing I wanted to mention was the role of government. I was recently in Kenya. We were working with South Sudan developing their plans for education for all. We convinced the Ministry of Education that there should be no more special schools. After the war there should be resource bases. It was a hard battle because the people in the Ministry had all been educated in Special Ed in Kenya. The people we were taken to visit were in establishments that had thespecial ed approach. This was despite Kenya signing and ratifying the convention in 2008. The education professionals said that doesn’t mean anything we’re still doing special Ed. There were 20,000 kids in special schools in Kenya, 85,000 with identified impairments in mainstream schools. Yet if you were a teacher in special schools you were entitled after three years to 1 years paid secondment. Teachers in mainstream had to pay out of their own holiday time for training. This is what happens when vested interests take control you have to blow vested interests out of the water to make inclusion happen”.

Supplementary answer on dual system for deaf people.
“I understand what Terry was saying, but is it not true that the World Federation of the Deaf have supported the General Comment and inclusion? This does argue for sign language education. It doesn’t make a brief for separate deaf schools, it doesn’t argue for that and I think that should have been sorted out inside the World Federation of the Deaf before this document was drawn. Because I know there are different views, but the world view is reflected in this document.

To answer two of your points, I can take you to schools in England like Lister Secondary where there are teachers of the deaf, deaf teachers teaching sign language in a mainstream school, but what is important is ‘that the child is not on their own’. That there are four deaf children in each class and that they are part of the class and that they’re taught bilingually and that has shown to be as effective in many ways as the old deaf schools.

Putting a child on their own, who is a sign language user, is not acceptable, that is not inclusion, it is integration, and we need to be very clear about that, and we need to argue for mobilization of sign language interpreters, deaf people teacher sign in the mainstream schools, but we have to have a constant number of deaf children for it to work. I would argue and we really can’t go to the whole world, where there are many, many more deaf children than in Europe and say you need separate schools. It is not possible to do that and we will be in 50 years’ time still talking about this. We have to create sign language in all of our schools”

See resources at

Disabled People much better off in Europe! Vote to stay in Europe in the Referendum

Posted on June 18, 2016

Please circulate

Disabled People should vote to Stay In Europe
As UK Disability Movement Rep on the European Disability Forum from 2004 to 2012 I fully endorse the position taken by Debbie Jolly, Richard Howitt MEP and Lady Jane Campbell. Disabled people in the UK are much better off in the EU and we should be playing a more active part in mobilising the 10 million disabled voters to vote to stay.

On 15th June six Tory and Labour former Minsters for Disability published a letter in the Guardian arguing why disabled people are better off in Europe.
Let us learn the lessons of the history we have lived through. There is no doubt that we have gained a great deal in legislation on employment, transport, training, accessibility and Social Funds for training. The EU is enthusiastic about taking disabled people’s rights forward as a signatory of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. In the UK successive governments—Labour, Coalition and Tory—have been doing the least possible to improve our position and indeed making it worse. Having EU legislation and directives as a fall back is in this situation is most important in safeguarding our rights. Because of the EU legislation:
• Our buses, trains, stations, ferries, airports and air flights are accessible;
• We have equal rights in employment and all employers have to make reasonable adjustments(various UK Government wanted to limit this to those who employ over 20;
• The Blue Badge parking and access requirements operate throughout the EU;
• Our Human Rights are supported and enhanced with institutions and hate crime opposed.
Gove, Johnson and IDS are all neo-conservative free marketeers who which to be rid of ‘red tape’ such as health and safety legislation and employment rights in a race to the bottom for ordinary people while they and their cronies get richer. Staying in Europe and building united opposition to this conception is the best thing for disabled people and working people.
We should not be seduced by xenophobic or racist ideas against immigration. We, ourselves, have and are subject to such prejudice and hate crime and should to know better.
Equally while those on the left arguing for exit claim the EU as a capitalist club- So the UK isn’t!!!
We must stay in Europe and fashion an alternative. The cross European Movement against austerity needs to campaign for a minimum standard of living for all citizens. The Disability Movement in all its fragments could start by unifying and turning outwards into Europe to work with the representatives of 80 million disabled people across Europe. The EU have ratified the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Disabled Persons ( without reservation, unlike the UK who put up 4 reservations) and has an active plan for its implementation including new legislation on Accessibility which will improve life in all areas for disabled people from access to the internet and websites to transport, services and all products.
Richard Rieser, World of Inclusion and Coordinator UK Disability History Month

World of Inclusion comments on UNCRPD Committee Draft General Comment on Article 24 Inclusive Education

Posted on January 10, 2016

Response to the Draft General Comment on Article 24 by the CRPD Committee from World of Inclusion Ltd
World of Inclusion is a training, resource producing and consultancy organisation that specialises in the implementation of inclusive education in the UK and many countries around the world. It is run by people with disabilities and is a DPO. International work includes Argentina, Botswana, Bhutan, Canada, Dubai, France, Germany, India, Italy, Kenya, Morocco, Mozambique, Papua New Guinea, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, South Africa, South Korea, South Sudan, Swaziland, Uganda, Ukraine, Zambia and Zimbabwe (
World of Inclusion works from a principle of human rights and equality and strives to address intersectionality of differing equality strands. World of Inclusion works from the social model/human rights perspective and rejects a deficit/medical model approach. Therefore barriers to inclusive education are found in built environments, organisations, policies, practices and attitudes, though we recognise that people with disabilities need specific accommodations, supports and approaches to their impairment, within inclusive settings.
Having made a submission in writing and a verbal presentation to the Day of General Discussion on Article 24, World of Inclusion welcomes the Draft General Comment and the progressive direction they have taken. In particular we welcome :-
The ‘Right to Inclusive Education’ rather than just ’education’ in the title of the General Comment;
The clarity of the case for inclusive education based on a human rights approach and in particular the educational, social and economic case to be used when arguing with Governments; (Introduction p.1-7)
The definition of inclusive education; ( p.9)
The clear identification of barriers to inclusion; (p.9)
The defining of the right to inclusion as a ‘process that transforms culture, policy and practices in all educational environments’; (p.11)
The clear distinguishing between segregation, integration and inclusion; (p.11)
The recognition that placing students with disabilities in mainstream classrooms without appropriate support does not constitute inclusion; (p.11)
The prohibition of exclusion based on impairment or its degree; (p.18)
The recognition that denial of reasonable accommodation is discriminatory and immediately applicable; (p.137 p.40)
Support measures must be compliant with the goal of full inclusion; (p.33)
Education of all students must rest with the Education Ministry; (p.61)
The call for the transfer of resources from segregated to inclusive environments; (p. 63)
The recognition of the importance of families and representative organizations of people with disabilities; (p. 80)
The call for new assessment measures that will not disadvantage people with disabilities . (p.77)
However, World of Inclusion would respectfully like to put forward a number of amendments to the Draft General Comment (GC), based on our experience of working on developing inclusive education in many countries with different social, economic and cultural factors. Most of these amendments are offered to increase clarity and understanding. A few are new points World of Inclusion consider to be important but neglected. The GC will be a very important document to aid States, International Agencies, Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs), Disabled Persons’ Organisations ( DPOs), schools, colleges, school principals, teachers, administrators, families and young people with disabilities, to implement Article 24 and inclusive education.
Each amendment identified by paragraph number, has an explanation, is marked Amendment and the textual change is in red.
9. Definition of the right to inclusive education. The definition does not make it clear that inclusion should be available in local mainstream or regular schools, nor does it make clear that persons with disabilities should not be excluded by virtue of their impairment.
Amendment In 7th line, after ‘marginalized’, insert “ in local mainstream or regular schools and colleges from which persons with disabilities are not excluded by virtue of their impairment”.
In 11/12th lines, include in-depth transformation of the education system, ‘legislation, policy’ is listed. However, curriculum is not mentioned. In some countries, curriculum is subsumed in education policy. In others, the curriculum is seen as separate from policy.
Amendment in 12th line after ‘policy’, insert “and curriculum”.
10. This paragraph provides four ways to understand inclusive education. We are proposing a fifth, recognising it is also about geographic distribution of educational access, which is barrier free and providing for all students of relevant age range in the local area, with the necessary support.
Amendment add at end new point “e) An even geographic distribution of educational resources providing access to suitable, barrier free, environments for all students of relevant age range, in their local area, with the necessary support to thrive.”

12. This is a strong statement on the core features of inclusive education. In point b) Whole person approach- we think this would be clearer if reasonable accommodation was added here in line with 24.2.
Amendment In 6th line, after ‘identification’, insert “reasonable accommodations”.
Accessibility is a core element that should be added.
Amendment add a new point c) and re-letter, to read
“a) Accessible- environments, buildings, curricula, teaching methods, learning materials and ICT software and hardware should be made available as soon as possible”.

h) Recognition of partnerships. This sub paragraph does not mention partnership with peers. Work in many countries to develop peer support or child to child approaches has proved highly effective at breaking down attitudinal barriers, creating welcoming environments, challenging name calling and harassment and raising the self esteem of children with disabilities.
Amendment after first sentence ending in ‘disability’(4th line ) add
“Developing child to child or peer support, within and beyond school, to challenge harassment and develop self-esteem”.
New Paragraph. After 34. Insert new paragraph to cover the learning of life and social development skills. This is a vital part of developing effective inclusive education, especially for people with learning difficulties or psycho-social impairments but is useful for all people with disabilities. This is currently missing from the Draft General Comment.
Amendment After 34 insert new paragraph with subsequent renumbering.
“States Parties must commit to enabling persons with disabilities to learn life and social development skills to facilitate their full and equal participation in education and as members of the community. This is applies to all people with disabilities but particularly to students at all levels of the education system. It is particularly important for those with intellectual and psycho-social impairments, but all people with disabilities benefit from such a focus. The approach required is one of empowering persons with disabilities, within the human rights’ approach, to challenge disabling environments, attitudes and practices and equipping them with practical ways and solutions to minimise and eradicate such barriers. Such empowerment must include developing self esteem and an awareness of the history of the struggle for human rights of people with disabilities”.

35. Educating teachers for children with disabilities should be strengthened, to spell out a twin track approach and the need for disability equality/ disability awareness approaches delivered by people with disabilities, as to have the greatest impact on changing attitude. The third sentence needs qualifying to add clarity as in the proposed amendment.
Amendment In 9th line, after sentence ending in ‘abilities’ and before sentence starting ‘Provision’, insert
“There is considerable agreement that this should include a twin track approach to inclusion, examining the general parameters and practices of including all excluded groups. Secondly, a more detailed approach to the impairment specific needs, supports and accommodations necessary for students with the common range of impairments to be successfully included . An integral part of this training must be disability equality/disability awareness, which give all an appreciation of the paradigm shift from deficit/charity/medical model, to a social/human rights based approach, which lies at the heart of the Convention”.
36. It is important that increasing the number of teachers with disabilities has been stated. We consider this should also apply to many in-service teachers who develop an impairment during their career and are often forced out of teaching. Reasonable accommodations should be provided to retain their services. It is important to point out that to increase the number of pre-service teachers with disabilities, barriers need to be addressed in secondary and tertiary education, which would prevent them accessing teacher training. To cover these two points the following amendment is suggested.
Amendment In 4th line, after ‘teachers’ and before sentence beginning ‘Their’, insert
“These measures must also apply to retain in-service teachers who acquire impairments during the course of their careers. An important precursor of increasing the number of people with disabilities to be able to qualify as teachers is to remove barriers in secondary and tertiary education”.
39. World of Inclusion has major concerns about the inclusion of the underlined sentence below.
“Moreover, any deliberately retrogressive measures in that regard would require the most careful consideration and would need to be fully justified by reference to the totality of the rights provided for in the Convention and in the context of the full use of the maximum available resources”.
This can all too easily be treated as a ‘get out clause’. For example, this has occurred in the Republic of South Africa, where despite a national policy of inclusion, at the Province level there has been an increase in special school building. In Uganda, where despite a strong policy for inclusion, schools exclusively for blind and deaf students have recently been built, even though this will never meet need. The building of new segregated special schools and training in medical model based approaches rather that human rights based approaches to disability are two most common.
Amendment In 9th to 12th line, ‘deletion of the underlined part’. Or in 9th to 12th line, delete underlined wording and insert in their place ‘Deliberate retrogressive measures can never be justified in the context of the Convention and human rights framework.’
New Paragraph. Out of school children. At least 40% of out of school children have been shown to be children with disabilities. As the proportion attending school increases, the proportion of those outside school who are children with disabilities increases. Add to this the higher drop-out rate of children with disabilities, as they meet barriers in school and their communities to their successful continuation with their schooling and it can be seen why we are proposing the insertion of a New Paragraph after 40 as part of State Party Obligations.
Amendment After 40 insert New Paragraph and renumber
“State parties need to take urgent action to ensure the implementation of the many international treaty obligations which require all children to be entitled to education. Children with disabilities, particularly girls, are the largest group of out of school children . Many children with disabilities drop-out of school due to barriers in school and in their communities. State Parties must address this situation. State parties in their reporting and data collection need to identify the numbers and location of out of school children, the type of impairments they have and the measures they are taking to get them into school or re-enter education, in the most inclusive way possible”.

45. The use of the word vulnerabilities (6th line) places the focus back on the child as a subject and takes us to a charity/medical model approach, contrary to the human rights’ model approach upon which the UNCRPD is based.

Amendment In 7th line, delete “any particular vulnerability” and replace with “ any particular barriers”.

47. Article 8. Awareness Raising. It has been shown that involving people with disabilities in disability equality / disability awareness has proved highly effective in challenging negative attitudes and promoting a positive approach, especially in the education system.
Amendment At end of paragraph add “Involving adults with disabilities and their representative organisations, DPOs, has been demonstrated to be an effective strategy ”.
58. Article 32. International Cooperation. This does mention the SDGs and Agenda 30, but this paragraph would benefit by emphasising the particular wording of SDG 4 on inclusive education.
Amendment At end of paragraph add
“SDG 4 is of particular importance to ‘Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all’ and in particular target 4.5 and point 4a ”.
63. A comprehensive and co-ordinated legislative framework for inclusive education needs to be introduced, together with a clear time frame for implementation. World of Inclusion accepts all the points in this paragraph but we consider there needs to be more emphasis on ensuring people with disabilities and their representative organisations have a right to be involved in developing the inclusive education system. Adults with disabilities are grown up children with disabilitie and their experience has a vital part to play in developing inclusive education.
Amendment. In point k), 3rd line, after “disabilities” add “and their representative organizations- disabled persons’ organizations (DPOs)”.
64. Support the need for an Education Sector Plan. This will be as strong as the data it is based upon. To the list recommended by the Committee should be added data on the numbers in special schools/segregated settings; the number of teachers trained and to what level; how many have received training on including children with disabilities and to what level.
Amendment In 7th line, after “school” add
“numbers in educational segregated settings, the number of teachers trained and to what level, how many have received training on including children with disabilities and to what level”.
66. Deinstitutionalisation is a vital part of creating more inclusive societies. This should apply to segregated schools as well as other institutions. From these closures, State Parties should be required to ring fence any savings to be put into community services.
Amendment In 7th line, after “residential institutions” insert “and segregated schools”
Add new sentence at end of paragraph “ State Parties should ensure that any savings made from the closure of institutions are put back into community services and ring –fenced, over a sufficient time period to be effective”.
67. Early Childhood interventions are a vital part of developing the capacity of children with disabilities to be successfully included and creating positive attitudes among their families and community. The World Health Organisation support for inclusive Community Based Rehabilitation should be referenced.
Amendment In 6th line, after “children with disabilities.” add
“This should be approached from an inclusive orientation, as has been pioneered in many countries by Community Based Rehabilitation ”.

Amendment In 9th line, after “NGO “ insert “/DPO”

72. The training of teachers must include principals, all in-service teaching and support staff and be on-going, as inclusion is a continuing process.
Amendment At end of paragraph add a new sentence
“Such measures must include principals, all in-service teaching and support staff, be provided on a whole school basis and be ongoing, as inclusion is a continuing process”.
73. There are different models for implementing inclusive education. The four options put forward do not include one where schools across a district collaborate with one another, for example, through school and district support groups and/or share a resource centre for training, IT, teaching and learning accommodations, as in South Africa.
Amendment Add a new a) and re-letter subsequent sub-paragraphs
“ a) A district approach, in which there are district level inclusion coordinators, who train and support principals and an inclusion lead teacher from every school, followed by setting up a school- based support group of interested parents, teachers, DPOs and community representatives, who identify out of school children and children with disabilities and the barriers they face. Each school- based support group regularly sends a representative to the district support group. A district resource centre is established to provide support, training, teaching and learning resources, collecting data and monitoring effectiveness and developing interventions”.
75. This is an important paragraph giving a clear steer to the type of pedagogical changes necessary to make inclusion work. However, it needs clarifying by adding type and degree of impairment. The words ‘unique’ and ‘abilities’ are patronising and inaccurate.
Amendment In 10th line, after ‘‘learning style’’ insert “impairments”
Amendment In 12th line, delete “their unique abilities” and replace with “their diverse types and degree of impairment”.
Richard Rieser , World of Inclusion Tel 0044(0)7715420727 or e-mail 04.012016

i UNICEF 2013 Preparing Teachers for Children with Disabilities ( and IDDC Teachers for All : Inclusive Teaching for Children with Disabilities
ii Include Us(2013) Plan International. Children with disabilities in 30 countries 10x less likely to be in school than children with disabilities
iii Commonwealth Secretariat (2012) “ Implementing Inclusive Education: Implementing Article 24 of the UNCRPD Author R.Rieser. Published London.
iv United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (2015)
v WHO(2010) Community Based Rehabilitation Guidelines

#ENDviolence on children and adolescents with disabilities 3rd December 2015

Posted on December 2, 2015

Key messages

CwD- 3 to 4 times  (FINAL -SM) (3)

1. Children and adolescents with disabilities are 3 to 4 times more likely to experience physical and sexual violence and neglect than children without disabilities. To end violence against children by 2030, we need to count all children under SDG target 16.2, including those with disabilities.

2. Children and adolescents with disabilities are at significantly increased risk of experiencing sexual violence: up to 68% of girls and 30% of boys with intellectual or developmental disabilities will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday. To end sexual violence against children and adolescents with disabilities we need to:
a. Include children with disabilities in national child protection laws, systems and policies, in line with international and regional human rights law.
b. Invest in free, accessible and high-quality services that prevent and respond to sexual violence against children with disabilities.
c. Address stigma and discrimination that prevent children with disabilities who have experienced sexual violence, from accessing services and redress.
d. Ensure safe, anonymous and accountable reporting mechanisms for all children, including those with disabilities to report abuse.
CwD- Adolescents (FINAL -SM) (6)
3. Children with disabilities are up to 17 times more likely to live in an institution than their peers without disabilities. The risk of violence, neglect and abuse in institutions and orphanages is much higher than when living at home or in a community. End the institutionalisation of children by supporting families and providing inclusive community-level services particularly in health, education and social protection. Implement the UN Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children, including the development of standards and training for all caregivers.
CwD- Emergencies (FINAL -SM) (5)
4. For every child killed in conflict, three acquire a permanent injury or disability. In the aftermath of disasters, children with disabilities are more likely to become separated from their careers and are extremely vulnerable to violence, exploitation and sexual abuse. Child protection responses in emergencies need to be fully inclusive of children with disabilities to ensure that no child is left behind.

5. Despite being one of the most vulnerable groups, infants, children and adolescents with disabilities are often excluded and invisible from data collected on violence. Every study related to violence against children should include children with disabilities to make them visible and data should be disaggregated by disability, age and gender.
CwD- Data (FINAL -SM) (4)

6. Adolescents and young persons with disabilities face more barriers to the enjoyment of their sexual and reproductive rights than those without disabilities. They are subject to increased sexual violence and abuse, and they also have a significantly higher risk of forced sterilization and coercive family planning methods, or are wrongly assumed to be sexually inactive. On the other hand, they are less likely to receive appropriate sexual and reproductive health information and services. To prevent this, efforts should be directed at:
a. Raising awareness among families, caregivers and health personnel of the rights of adolescents and young persons with disabilities to a life free of sexual abuse.
b. Access to counselling and the emergency contraception when necessary.
c. Access to sexuality education.
d. Foster the participation of adolescents with disabilities in the design and implementation of strategies to increase the inclusion of young persons with disabilities in social protection programs.
CwD- Institutions (FINAL -SM) (2)
CwD- Sexual violence (FINAL -SM) (1)

Ens notes
1 Jones, L., Bellis, M.A., Wood, S., Hughes, K., McCoy, E., Eckley, L., Bates, G., Mikton, C., Shakespeare, T., Officer, A. (2012) Prevalence and risk of violence against children with disabilities: a systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies. The Lancet, Vol. 380, No. 9845.
2 OECD. Recommendations: Save the Children and Handicap International (2011). Out from the shadows. Sexual violence against children with disabilities. Available at: Retrieved: 30 November 2015.
3 UNICEF (2012) Children under the age of three in formal care in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, p.45. Available at: Retrieved: 30 November 2015.
4 Pearn, J. H. (2000). The cost of war: Child injury and death. In Z. A. Bhutta (Ed.), Contemporary Issues in Childhood Diarrhoea and Malnutrition 1st ed. (pp. 334-343) Pakistan: Oxford University Press
5 Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) (2003). Sexual and gender based violence against refugees, returnees and internally displaced persons: guidelines for prevention and response. Available at: Retrieved: 30 November 2015. .
6 UNICEF (2005). Violence against Children with disabilities: UN Secretary General’s Report on Violence against Children. Thematic Group on Violence against Children with disabilities. Available at: Retrieved: 30 November 2015.
7 UNFPA (2007) Emerging issues: sexual and reproductive health of persons with disabilities. New York: UNFPA
8 World Bank/Yale (2004) Global Survey on AIDS and Disability. Washington DC: World Bank.
9 Groce, N. (2005). HIV/AIDS and Individuals with Disability: Findings from the World Bank/Yale Global Survey. Health and Human Rights, 8(2), 215-224; Hanass-Hancock, J. (2009) Disability and HIV/AIDS – a systematic review of literature on Africa. Journal of the International AIDS Society. Nov 13;2(1).

England New Primary Curriculum Performance Descriptors Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 stack the cards against Inclusion

Posted on December 14, 2014

The DfE is currently consulting until 18th December consulting on performance descriptors for use in Key Stage 1 and 2. These are flawed with a gap between those achieving P8 and the new category of being below national standards. It also contains the idea that many thousands of pupils with SEN and disability will be labelled as Being Below National Standard or Working Towards National Standard.

This comes about because the new primary curriculum is focussing on particular skills in reading, writing and mathematics to the exclusion on nearly all else and the level of national standard 1 is roughly 2 years above the National Curriculum Level currently considered achieveable by the end of Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2. In 2016 these will form the new floor targets-below which OFSTED says a school is failing. One does not have to be a crystal ball gazer to realise this will force many more primary schools to be academies and create a reluctance to enroll them. Those with larger numbers of children with SEN will be particularly hard hit. The proposal ignore the equality implications and the need for reasonable adjustments and will take us back to the chaos that existed after the initial inroduction of the National Curriculum after 1988 which took 12 years to at least partially sort out. But now the stakes are much higher.

I urge as many of you to robustly respond to this consultation which is a broadside against the inclusion of disabled children and those with SEN.

I attach my response to the DfE

The consultation paper can be found at–

PerformanceDes., me
1. It is important to understand the context of how the needs of disabled children and those with SEN were met under the previous assessment systems. After the introduction of the National Curriculum in 1988 with its 8 levels, there was a period of years where those who could not meet the levels of the National Curriculum were just classified as W –Working Towards or were disapplied from the National Curriculum. After this various guidance was issued, but not until the 2000 Curriculum changes was there an expectation that all children should be on the National Curriculum. The P Scales were introduced for teachers to assess the level of pupils working below Level 1 of the National Curriculum but were not to be used as a normative assessment/league tables. Many teachers working with these found the step too large for children with learning difficulty and other systems such as Pivots were widely introduced. Levels 1 and 2 were also found to be too large to cover the range of abilities and level 1c,b and a and 2 c, b, a and subsequently breakdowns of higher levels were introduced.

2. The General Inclusion Guidelines were produced as statutory guidance for teachers to provide guidance for differentiating teaching and assessment tools had to be adapted under the 2001 SEN Disability Act and the 2005 Disability Amendment Act now both incorporated into the Equalities Act. The current proposed assessment performance descriptors appear normative and do not take account of learning difference or the need for reasonable adjustments to access them. The lessons of the chaos of the past introduction of performance descriptors have not been learned and are likely to occur all over again.

3. There does not appear to have been any consideration of the equalities impact of these proposed changes, particularly on disabled pupils requiring reasonable adjustments.

4. The major problem with the new Assessment criteria is that for the many pupils who will not reach National Standard they will be labelled Working Toward National Standard, Below National Standard, or being ‘Below, Below National Standard’ or ton P8 to P1.

5. WOI is concerned that there will be a gap between p 8 at the top of the P Scales and those working below national quote “15.There will be some pupils who are not assessed against the P-scales (because they are working above P8 or because they do not have special educational needs), but who have not yet achieved the contents of the ‘below national standard’ performance descriptor (in subjects with several descriptors). In such cases, pupils will be given a code (which will be determined) to ensure that their attainment is still captured.

6. These pejorative and discriminatory grading labels will not be likely to encourage self esteem, on the contrary as they will be used to set new floor targets for primary schools to achieve they will act as a great disincentive for primary schools to admit those children with impairments and Special Needs that are likely to put them in these assessment categories.

7. The last 20 years has demonstrated that many disabled pupils and those with SEN often progress at slower rates than their peers . The document says pupils should not move on to work on the next key stage even if they have mastery. It is silent about those who will need to be working below National Standard 1 when they progress to key stage 2, presumably they will still be working below National Standard 1, or is the intention to keep them back until they reach nation standard 1?

8. Many parts of the world use a grade system and hold children back until they reach the required grade. This has an adverse effect and leads to drop out and non-recruitment of disabled children. The DFE need to be very careful that in their keenness to raise standards that they do not create a hidden grade system that will have a massive negative impact on inclusion and the achievement of disabled children.

9. The value of the Level system was that they could work at their level in the class while their peers doing work on another level. The proposed assessment framework is geared to a normative level that is considerably higher than the previous levels –approximately 2 years. It is also much more restrictive than the previous Levels with a strong knowledge and skills base, which will also adversely impact on many disabled pupils and those with SEN.

10. WOI is most concerned about the lack of thought or practical details about how disabled children and those with special educational needs are meant to demonstrate what they can do under these performance descriptors. There is no evidence of any thought about differentiating these performance descriptors or of taking account of children who due to their impairment will need reasonable adjustments in how they are graded. For example take handwriting in written English. There will be a range of pupils who will never be able to develop their handwriting due to their impairment. They will however be able to express themselves through using a keyboard, speech to text or other switching systems.

11. There is little evidence from Primary Educationalists that the programmes of study or the assessment criteria will aid an education based on a child development model. (See the Cambridge Education Review and Robin Alexander’s work).It is worth noting that in the highest performing school systems in the world –Finland-children are only starting their formal education when under this assessment system children will already have been force fed this curriculum and testing for three years. There is a grave danger of turning many children off learning by imposing such a performance assessment system.

12. “The United Kingdom Government is committed to continuing to develop an inclusive system where parents of disabled children have increasing access to mainstream schools and staff, which have the capacity to meet the needs of disabled children”.[Interpretive Declaration Article 24 UNCRPD] This is the interpretative declaration of Article 24 and the Children and Families Act Part 3 has a presumption of inclusion. It is hard to see how either of these commitments can be maintained with this teacher assessment tool which does not allow for measured progress from P-scales to Below National Standard.

13. We propose replacing ‘Working Towards National Standard’, ‘Below National Standard’ and ‘Below, Below National Standard’ with a new scale of Emergent National Learner scale 1-6 which will bridge the areas in each curriculum area between p8 and National Standard 1. These could be pegged to the old levels 1c,b,a and 2c,b,a. These criteria are known to teachers and would plug the current gap. The content could be adjusted to fit the new curriculum programmes of study. This would also enable teacher assessment to cover all learners.

14. In January 20134 17.9% pupils in schools in England had special educational

needs (equating to 1,492,950 pupils). Current statistics (Sept 2014 Annual Report DfE) demonstrate the folly of proceeding in the way proposed. The attainment gap in phonics has increased in the last year The attainment gap was 44 percentage points with 32% of pupils with SEN meeting the required standard compared to 76% of pupils with no SEN. Pupils with SEN performed significantly worse than pupils

without SEN at the end of KS1 The gap is largest in writing (45 percentage points), and smallest in mathematics (31 percentage points). Compared to 2011/2012 the gap has narrowed in all subjects, most notably by 2 percentage points in

both reading and writing. At KS 2 the attainment gap between pupils with

SEN and those without in reading, writing and mathematics is 53 percentage points. These statistics are only based on those entered for the tests/assessments and many were not suggesting an even larger gap.

15. The current proposals ignore these realities and as it is generally acknowledged that the National Standard is two levels above the current levels the impact is going to be far greater and the attainment gap far larger. The system proposed is not fit for use in as school system where 18% of pupils have special needs and an unknown but likely but different but overlapping population count as disabled under the Equalities Act

16. WOI strongly urges that these draft performance assessment descriptors are withdrawn and reconceptualised in a way that can include all learners and to take account of the need for reasonable adjustments for disabled learners.

What’s Happening with Inclusive Education Around the World

Posted on September 18, 2014

148 countries including the European Union have ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with disabilities (UNCRPD) and 158 have adopted the Convention. In December2013 a Report-‘Thematic Study on the Rights of persons with disabilities to education’ from the UN Human Rights Council made clear inclusion and inclusive education is one of the key provisions of the UNCRPD. Article 24 commits State parties to developing an inclusive education system, where disability should not prevent people from successfully participating in the mainstream education system. But this study demonstrates that although there have been moves towards inclusion such as, by the provision of statutory rights to inclusion in Spain and Portugal (joining the long standing practice in Italy), there are still many barriers including lack of adequately trained teachers, accessible buildings, peer support and challenging bullying, with much more integration than inclusion. The observations of the CRPD Committee on the first 13 Country Reports also demonstrate a wide variation in practice, for example China is criticised for only integrating those with physical and mild visual impairments and for an expanding programme of special school building. Austria, which had developed moves to inclusion a decade ago is criticised for lacking continuing momentum in this process. All 13 countries are urged to do more and reminded that the duty of making reasonable accommodations in education for disabled people is not a progressively realised right, but must be implemented from the point of ratification. In March 2014 the Human Rights Council passed a resolution urging more to be done to implement the right to inclusive education . As these Reports point out implementing full inclusive education is a matter of political will and where that consensus has been built as in New Brunswick Province, Canada it can happen. In New Brunswick Policy No 322 on inclusive education states:
“6.2.2 . The following practices must not occur: 1) Segregated, self contained programs or classes for students with learning or behavioural challenges, either in school or in community based learning opportunities. 2) Alternative education programmes for students enrolled in kindergarten to grade eight.”

Send ALL Disabled Children to School????
Around the world we have much to campaign for in terms of developing inclusive education for all disabled learners. The Global Campaign for Education in the UK is focusing on getting the 40% of out-of- school children who are disabled, into school. That is 24million out of 57 million children still out of school. Send All My Friends to School ( has a free pack for schools, to work with pupils in KS1, 2 and 3 pupils this term on raising their awareness of this important issue.

In England, we may feel that we are losing the battle in the argument for inclusion. Despite the weakening of the presumption of inclusion in the Children and Families Act (2014), it is still there, with more than 90% of the two million disabled pupils and students attending schools and colleges, in mainstream provision. Domestically the struggle for inclusion must continue.

However, worldwide, despite 14 years of the Millennium Development Goal (2) requiring that all children should complete primary education, this will not be achieved next year. There have been big advances in many countries in getting millions of children into school, but the nature and quality of that schooling has not been adequate with a recent survey of 350,000 pupils in East Africa (Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda) showing only 15% achieved expected literacy and numeracy levels .

When it comes to children with disabilities, as they are known internationally, the numbers in school in most developing countries, though there are no accurate figures, is likely to be less than 10% and numbers completing primary education is less than 1%. So as more children are successfully enrolled in school, the proportion of those out of school who are disabled, are rising. Schools and learning are not generally accessible and teachers do not know how to make reasonable accommodations or provide the right support, so the drop out of enrolled pupils with disabilities is high. There are many reasons. Negative attitudes of parents and teachers are the biggest barrier, followed by poverty-parents need children to work and can’t afford school fees, long distances to school, lack of accessible schools and then lack of adequate teacher training.

In 2012, there were about 28.9 million primary teachers working in classrooms around the world. With universal primary education high on the political agenda, countries have made great efforts to boost the supply of teachers, by 16% globally since 1999 . At least 20 countries have more than doubled their teacher workforces.

Training All Teachers for Inclusive Education
However, as demonstrated by my recent work for UNICEF on preparing teachers for children with disabilities (CWD), most teachers in developing countries get no training on including children with disabilities. If they do get training, it is based on a special education needs model, where the focus is on separating the child from their peers to segregated classes and schools and focussing on what they cannot do from a ‘medical model’. There is an urgent need for all teachers pre-service and in-service, to get twin-track training on including children with disabilities.

Track One: Education based on Principles of Equality and Child Empowerment involves foundations and inclusive values which apply and are beneficial to all groups of marginalized learners and children e.g. girls, nomads, rural, poor, child soldiers/orphans, those with HIV/AIDS, children with disabilities, linguistic and ethnic minorities, traumatised and displaced children. The principles to enable a child friendly educational environment outlined by UNESCO are:
‘Equality and Valuing Difference
Identifying Barriers – Finding Solutions
Collaborative Learning – Peer Support
Differentiation & Flexible Curriculum and Assessment
Stimulating and Interesting Multi-Sensory Learning Environment
An Anti-Bias Curriculum
Child Centred Pedagogy, Creative with Reflective Teachers
Quality education requiring rigour and effort for each child to achieve their potential’ (UNESCO).

Track Two: Education accommodating the different impairment specific needs of children with disabilities or special needs. This will require teachers to be familiar with and able to make accommodations for:
a) Blind and Visually-Impaired pupils /students (Braille, tactile maps and plans, tapes and text to talk, mobility training, large print, magnification, orientation, auditory environment & talking instruments.)
b) Deaf & Hearing-Impaired pupils/students (Sign Language taught & use of interpretation, oral/finger spelling, hearing aid support, visual and acoustic environments.)
c) DeafBlind-Language (Use of interpreters, tactile environment, aids and appliances, orientation.)
d) Physical Impairment (Accessible infrastructure, toilets and washrooms, furniture adjustments, equipment, prosthesis, use of personal assistance, diet, transport, medication.)
e) Speech & Communication impairment (Facilitated communication, augmented communication [high and low tech], social use of language switching, talkers, information grids.)
f) Specific Learning Difficulty (Coloured overlays & background, Easy Read, tapes and text to talk, spell-checkers, concrete objects.)
g) General Cognitive Impairment (Pictograms, small steps curriculum, easy read, scaffolding, Makaton, use of symbols & information grids, using concrete objects.)
h) Mental Health and Behaviour (Counselling and personal support, differentiated behaviour policy, empathy, quiet chill-out space, circles of friends, collaborative learning and structured day.)
i) Introduction to screening, identification and key adjustments for main impairments.
UNESCO Bangkok have produced a very useful online guide on how to go about implementing track two in mainstream schools.

This said, there are many examples of teachers developing the above expertise and including children with disabilities successfully. They are the exception rather than the rule and nowhere have come to scale.

Adolf is visually impaired and can be accommodated in his class in Tanzania due to Sightsavers providing a telescopic sight so he can read the blackboard. After several false starts, Tanzania is now working towards a more system wide approach to inclusion of CWD. Action on Disability and Development International (ADD), have taken on overall responsibility for design, fundraising, implementation, coordination, monitoring, evaluation and dissemination with the MOEVT. Modelling Inclusive Education (MIE) project expects to cover three districts in Coast region with 265 primary schools. These are demonstrating how CWD can be fully included, teachers trained and curriculum adapted so they get quality education. Now the task is to make sure this approach gets into the Post-Millennium Development Goals in 2015.
The prospects for the coming period could change the few examples of inclusive practice into the norm, but there are two obstacles. Firstly, that as the pressure to marketize education increases and more businesses view education services as a means of profit, rather than a public good then those who are seen as difficult or different from the norm will become an inconvenient truth and as the currency of the market becomes standardised test scores those who achieve differently or at a different pace will be squeezed out and old models of segregation will re-assert themselves. Secondly, as the world moves closer to all children being in school the decreasing minority still out of school will not be funded. Against this is the agreement that in what replaces the Millennium Development Goals disability should be specifically mentioned. The Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights have issued guidance to countries that they must consider disabled children when reporting on progress in establishing human rights . UNICEF have prioritised disabled children and are holding the first global meeting of disabled children and young people in New York in June. This follows the publication of a series of useful publication . ‘Take us Seriously’, being about gathering children with disabilities views and the Global Report on Children last year focused on disability . So it is now about mounting sufficient political pressure to turn fine words into reality.

3. 25th March 2014
Global Monitoring Report 2013/14 UNESCO
UNESCO (2009). Policy Guidelines on Inclusion in Education. Paris: UNESCO.
7. UNESCO (2009). Policy Guidelines on Inclusion in Education. Paris: UNESCO.
8. UNESCO Bangkok (2009). Teaching Children with Disabilities in Inclusive Settings. Specialized Booklet 3. Part of Embracing Diversity: Toolkit for creating inclusive , learning-friendly environments. Bangkok: UNESCO.
10. UN OHCHR (2013) Thematic study on the right of persons with disabilities to education Report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights A/HRC/25/29
11. Global Partnership for Children with Disabilities

Meeting the Challenge of the new SEN

Posted on April 15, 2014

‘Meeting the Challenge of the New SEN/ Disability Framework: Protecting the Entitlement of Disabled Children, those with SEN and their Teachers.’

Postcard NUT Fringe_2014

Speech given by Richard Rieser at Conference Fringe Meeting Monday 21st April 2014 in Brighton Centre, 12.45. 

The new framework will adversely impact on all teachers and children and reverse current practice of  inclusion.

Countering the bias to Inclusive Education was the stated Manifesto commitment of the Tories, personally written by David Cameron and adopted by the Coalition. This ideological stance combined with the wider commitment to privatisation and ‘choice’ in the accelerated introduction of free schools and academies has provided a toxic background to the framing of the Children and Families Act, Part 3. This will be implemented in all English local authorities school, Early Years settings and FE colleges from September 2014.

There have been some potentially positive moves:

  1. There must b a local offer for those with SEN and disability, produced by local authorities and subject to consultation with parents and young people with SEN/ disability.
  2. The provision is from 0-25. Education Health and Care Plans (EHC) cover this period.
  3. Health Service has to provide what is required to meet the needs of those with SEN.
  4. There will be an EHC Plan to replace a statement-transition will be 3 years from September 2014, but no effective means of enforcing the non-educational health and social care.
  5. Further Education and Post Schools provision will be part of same legal framework, though Higher Education is excluded.

However, there are far more potentially negative impacts on children and teachers:

  1. The School Action/School Action stage is being replaced by one SEN school-based stage.
  2. All teachers, not the SENCO, will be responsible for the progress of these children, including recording and meeting with parents. This has major workload implications.
  3. The Individual Education Plan is going and there will be no agreed format for recoding interventions
  4. The presumption of inclusion is significantly weakened by more caveats which schools can use to object to admitting a pupil with SEN.
  5. Children without an EHC plan/Statement can be placed in a special academy or special free school and have none of current legal protections of children with a statement- this will lead to dumping as parents can be misled by managements who don’t want their children.
  6. It will be much harder to get an EHC plan than getting a statement. This has been made more difficult  by new school funding arrangements- funding consists of AWPU, school top-up funding for special needs to £10,000. The school will have to demonstrate it is spending £10,000 on the individual pupil before many local authorities will give an assessment for an EHC Plan and access to the Higher Needs Budget, even though this will be unlawful. The Higher Needs Budget funds all individual Special Needs expenditure, above £10,000 per pupil/student and covers Early Years, schools including special and residential special schools, colleges,   special colleges and other provision. The local authority holds this budget.
  7. Families and young people will be able to have personal budgets for services, which will cause many issues in schools.
  8. The legislation is not as specific and parents have lost some of their current legal protections.

Schools  are also under a duty to provide auxiliary aids and services to disabled pupils/students as a reasonable adjustment. This is an anticipatory adjustment which means it needs to be in place before the pupil arrives and certainly from when they are in the school. Schools need to keep funds for these adjustments. This is at odds with the graduated approach being suggested for the school stage.

Support Motion 30 and the updating amendment from Hackney which gives the NUT policy on the above and  instructs the Executive to initiate urgent policy discussions with the Opposition and other interested parties in the voluntary sector, trade unions and parents’ organizations, to develop a strategy of damage limitation and to ensure alternative mechanisms are developed to enable all children and young people with SEN to have their needs met and to maximise the development of inclusive practice throughout the education system. This is backed up by an action and campaign strategy to defend current provision and to fight for a more inclusive ‘local offer’.

The attached policy below was overwhelmingly adopted at the NUT Conference in Brighton on Sunday 20 th April 2014.
There were two amendments now incorporated in the attached.
The second which called for the union to campaign for an inclusive system from which no child was excluded on grounmds of disability caused some debate  with som 20% of delegates voting against, but they then very largely adopted the amendende motion. Many newer delegates were not familiar with the arguments for inclusion and the Union had a big training and educaton job on its hands as part of its General Campaign to defend Education from privatuisationm and profiteering being promoted by Mr Gove.
During lunchtime on the 21st a fringe meeting, organised by Hackney NUT on SEN and Inclusion was very well attended with more than 100 teachers from across the country addressed by Jonthan and Lucy Bartley of CSIE and Parents for Inclusion who had campairgned for 2 years to get their son Samuel into a mainstream school and were now fighting for him to transition to a mainstream secondary. Jonathan, who confronted Cameron during the last election over his policy of a bias to inclusion, got him to give the assurance that no parent who wanted mainstream would be denied. Jonathan said ” This committement had not been honoured in the Children and Families Act (part 3) and the subsequent draft Code of Practice which make it much harder for families who want inclusion to get it”. Richard Rieser of Hackney NUT and World of Inclusion and author of the Conference motion describerd the battle to get the Children and Family Bill amended and how we now needed to build a campaign to defend and improve inclusive provision. Max Hyde President of the NUT spoke saying how important the inclusion of disabled pupils and students was and how impressed the Union delegation to Finland had recently been byu inclusive practice and competence of teachers and that thje whole country only had 8 special schools for deaf students.
Nick Wigmore from Executive(Manchester) spoke of how his child with autism spent three hours a day on a bus rather than be at his mainstream school as the Local; Authority had placed him in a special school and no schools in the area were prepared to take him. He gave an assurance that the Executive would implement the policy and campaign for an inclusive alternative to the Children and Families Act.
More that 60 attendees signed up to being part of an informal network to develop the campaign.

NUT 2014 Policy overwhelmingly adopted by over 1100c delegates representing 330,000 teachers in England and Wales. Sunday 20th April 2014


“Conference reiterates its policy of 2011 of supporting inclusive education and developing disability equality in mainstream schools.


Conference recognises that Part 3 of the Children and Families Bill (though expanding the protection of a Statement through the Education Health and Care Plan (EHC Plan) to 0-25 year old children and young people), does not provide adequate safeguards for the large majority of children and young people with special educational needs at the school/college based stage.


Conference is further concerned at the damaging impact and pace of change envisaged by the government, in particular:


1. The introduction from April 2014 of mandatory changes in school funding and the higher needs block;


2. The negative impact of these funding changes on both mainstream and special schools additional needs block and Age Weighted Pupil Unit, that will lead to a reduction in funding for special educational needs (SEN);


3. The proposed change over from Statement to EHC plan of three years from September 2014;


4. Notwithstanding the late incorporation of disabled children/ young people without SEN into some of the statutory duties, there remains a significant disconnect between SEN and Disability Equality Duties which cover many of the same pupil/student population.


5. The increased statutory responsibility on Local Authorities at a time of reduction in Local Authority budgets, in particular reductions in specialist and advisory teachers in SEN and disability; and


6. Proposals to phase out teaching assistants.


7. The weakening of the presumption of inclusion by conflating previously different tests that will make it far harder for those children and young people with SEN who want a mainstream placement to secure one ;


8. The loss of the Individual Education Plan and the new Draft Code of Practice placing the responsibility on class and subject teachers for recording progress and meeting parents of children at the School Stage. This has significant increase of workload implications;


9. The right of Special Academies and Special Free Schools to enrol children and students with SEN on an indefinite basis, without an EHC Plan, which is not permitted for maintained and non- maintained Special Schools.



Conference recognises the negative impact of the above changes on the inclusion and education of disabled children and young people and those with SEN.

Furthermore, Conference condemns comments from The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) that Inclusion is only right for some disabled children.


Conference therefore instructs the Executive to enter into urgent policy discussions with the Opposition and other interested parties in the voluntary sector, trade unions and parents’ organisations, to develop a strategy of damage limitation and to ensure alternative mechanisms are developed to enable all children and young people with SEN to have their needs met and to maximise the development of inclusive practice throughout the education system. Following these discussions and not later than January 2015, Conference instructs the Executive to launch a public campaign to ensure this plan becomes a General Election issue.


In order to safeguard the provision for disabled children and young people and those with special educational needs and to ensure that teachers’ workload is not increased in meeting these needs, Conference instructs the Executive to carry out the following:

  1. Produce guidance for all members on the impacts the above changes will have on students and staff;
  2. Provide advice and support to Divisions urging them to ensure the Local Offer fully reflects the choice of a range of quality inclusive mainstream provision with sufficient places, for children and young people, with the whole range and severity of impairments.
  3. Launch a publicity campaign on the impacts and the possible alternatives;
  4. Support for members on a school-by-school basis and across Local Authorities in balloting for sustained industrial action to protect existing provision, jobs and conditions.
  5.  Campaign for a fully inclusive education system which ensures that disabled children are not excluded from education on the grounds of disability”.