There is much uncertainty about what
it means to include. The establishment of the notion of inclusion, in the early
1990s, was intended to replace integration, but was seen as too limiting
because it was merely concerned with matters of physical placement, increasing
participation of children with special needs in mainstream schools, locationally,
socially and functionally (Lewis 1995; Florian 1998). Among the critics of
integration was Slee (2001), who argued that it had been little more than
calculus of equity, concerned with measuring the extent of a student’s
disability, with a view to calculating the resource loading to accompany that
student into school. Slee describes the crude mathematical formula which is
used: Equity E is achieved when you add Additional Resources AR to the
Disabled Student D, thus E = AR + D. Inclusion was considered a more
desirable alternative because it was still about increasing participation of
children in mainstream schools, but was also focused on the changes required by
the schools to their structures, ethos and practices and on removing barriers
(which may be environmental, structural or attitudinal) to children’s
participation. But questions have arisen about inclusion from various quarters.
Researchers are asking about who is to be included and into what. Teachers and
their representative unions have recently asked why they should include and at
what cost. Parents are wondering why they and their children are let down so
badly and children seem genuinely perplexed that it is so difficult to do
inclusion. Researchers report that teachers are increasingly talking about
inclusion as an impossibility in the current climate (Croll and Moses 2000;
Thomas and Vaughan 2004), lacking confidence in their own competence to deliver
inclusion with existing resources (Mittler 2000; Hanko 2005). In research undertaken
by Macbeath et al (2006), there was a general positive regard among teachers
for inclusion, with a recognition of the benefits for all pupils, yet they
expressed concern about whether mainstream schools were able to provide a
suitable education for children with complex emotional needs. Teachers also
questioned whether alternative, special provision might better serve children
with complex special needs. These findings have led some researchers to
speculate on whether inclusion may ever be realised (Hegarty 2001; Hornby 2003)
and indeed Hegarty (2001) has called for the abandonment of the ‘easy
sloganising’ (249) of inclusion. There has not, however, been the baying demand
for evidence that inclusion works nor the dismissal of inclusion as little more
than an ideological ‘bandwagon’ (Kavale and Mostart 2004, 234) that has been
heard in the US from the special educators, assiduously protecting their
interests and refusing to acknowledge the ideological nature of their own
position.