Figures show that ever more pupils with special needs are being home-schooled. It’s a betrayal of them, and a loss for the wider community
I got my first taste of our two-tier education system before my son Samuel, who is now 15, had even started school. Samuel has spina bifida, and I was told before he was born that the challenges we would face would be great. But I hadn’t anticipated it would mean a two-year fight to get him a place at our local primary school, where his big sister was already in class. I had to stand down as a governor to fight for Samuel’s inclusion, but we won, and by Samuel’s first sports day the school had started to change.
That day the PE teacher lined Samuel up, in his wheelchair, for the 100m race. The starting gun was fired. And within about 15 seconds it became apparent that the teacher had not thought through how Samuel, then the only child in the class with a wheelchair, would “run” this race. As I anticipated when I saw him on the start line, every other child crossed the finish before Samuel’s little chair had taken him halfway down the track. As Samuel pushed the joystick on the chair as far forward as he could, cheers from the parents on the sidelines lapsed into silence. Until someone started to chant his name: “Samuel! Samuel!” Within what felt like moments, everyone was cheering him across the finish line.
You don’t have to look very far back in history to see how hard fought the battle for inclusive education was