Alan Share slams the government’s policy on education for special-needs children
The government department for children, school and families has reported a significant fall in the number of children with special education needs (SEN) being placed in special schools — a result of Labour’s inclusion policy to have SEN children taught in mainstream schools.
But what effect is this having on children, parents and teachers? Newcastle’s Alan Share, a long-standing chair of governors of a school for children with physical and learning difficulties, raises this and several other questions about inclusive education in his recently published book Death of a Nightingale: Inclusion or Disillusion? and Other Heresies (AuthorHouse).
His debut publication — written as a play — features a headteacher who considers suicide as her school faces closure.
Mr Share, 75, says he wrote the play to make people think about special-needs education. “One size does not fit all,” he tells People. “Inclusion is a concept that is wonderful in the libraries of the mind. It is not always so wonderful in the classrooms of the real world, especially if vulnerable children are excluded when they are supposed to be included, made to feel unwanted and, at its worst, shoehorned into a hostile environment.”
According to last week’s report, 95 per cent of the 24,800 children assessed for SEN during 2007 were issued with a special-needs “statement” for the first time. Of these, 24 per cent were placed in a special school and more than 61 per cent were placed in state schools. “It’s not equality people want, it’s equity,” says Mr Share.
He has pledged to give all proceeds of his book to charity. Beneficiaries will include the Jerusalem Foundation and Neve Shalom.
A qualified barrister, Mr Share spent most of his working life running a furnishing company in the North East, before retiring at 60. He is chair of Jewish Care’s Philip Cussins House and is a member of the United Hebrew Congregation.