Inclusion and the Nutters

The “nutters” was not an affectionate nickname. Between them, the eight members of bottom set had an encyclopaedia of behavioural difficulties. The explosive results rang down the corridors.

Finally the headmaster decided that he had seen enough. A small class with specialist support was supposed to have been the solution. These “challenging” students were, however, responding badly to spending all day with other “challenging” students. He decided that the class would be broken up and the students split among the other sets. Cue lots of irate teachers. The staff room consensus was that yes, bottom set had been bad but at least its troubles had been contained. Disbanding it seemed like a willful attempt to spread the chaos.

Actually, for most of the children, it worked. They found their new calmer classes preferable to the exhausting anarchy of before. They enjoyed learning. They enjoyed being treated just like all the other kids.

So inclusion works? Not quite. Those with the most severe problems have got worse. The school's special needs department has admitted defeat and the parents have been encouraged to take their children into a specialist residential school. But they don't want that. They are adamant that their child stays because they don't like the connotations of a “special” school. While the dispute rumbles on, the situation in the classroom gets worse.

We instinctively accept that parents have the right to decide what's best for their children. What, however, is to be done when parents and experienced educational specialists disagree? At present, the result is often an unproductive stalemate.