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The Historical Milestones of Inclusive Education

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The 1970 Education Act Enacted in 1971 reversed this discriminatory practice with the proviso that all school-age children, in consideration of their rights to education, should be integrated into the mainstream school of their choice.   The increasing clamor for integration, and its later modification, inclusion, were fanned by the growing political and social interests that stemmed from the 1978 Warnock Report and, consequently, the 1981 Education Act. The Warnock Committee, established in 1974 and tasked to look into the needs of children with SEN, published their report in 1978 concluding that children with SEN comprised 20% of the school population while 2% need assistance over and above what the mainstream school is able to provide (Warnock, 1978).   They recommended that this 2% require special provisions in order to protect them.   Furthermore, integration may not be the best solution for those children with disability and they would need to attend special schools after all.   One other sign of the Warnock Report was how it gave importance to parents’ choices regarding the education of their children with SEN.   The 1981 Education Act thereafter followed, attempting to address the issues raised in the 1978 Warnock Report while subsequent Acts strengthened the policy. Both the Warnock Report and the 1981 Education Act changed UK’ s perception of children who have learning difficulties and soon after, other states and countries followed suit.   The overarching goal was to move away from the traditional segregated educational system and encouraging the move towards all children’ s inclusion in a mainstream educational institution, regardless of their physical handicaps and other special needs.   The local education authorities (LEAs) were given the responsibility to assess children with SEN and to recommend the necessary provisions.

The mid-1990s didn’ t just see an intensification of debates over the feasibility of inclusive education and the clamor to implement the legislation regarding it in the UK; international politics took an interest as well.

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