Moderate Learning Difficulties and the Future of Inclusion

Moderate Learning Difficulties and the Future of Inclusion

Moderate Learning Difficulties and the Future of Inclusion

Moderate Learning Difficulties and the Future of Inclusion

Synopsis

Children with mild to moderate learning difficulties (MLD) make up the largest sub-group of children requiring special educational needs, and yet they are often neglected in terms of research and in their influence on future Government policies. This book, based on a Nuffield Foundation research project, considers the perspectives of children with moderate learning difficulties, reviewing relevant issues such as: * identification of children with MLD; * appropriate curriculum and pedagogy; * inclusion in mainstream schools; * their identity and self-perception. The authors weave their findings into a wider review of current research in the MLD field and use a range of perspectives, from the professional, to psychological and sociological. This is a contemporary look at MLD that discusses the historical and policy context , origins and justification for having a category for MLD. Students, researchers, and academics that are active in the field of inclusive education will find this an insightful and comprehensive text.

Excerpt

The term 'moderate learning difficulties' (MLD) was introduced formally in the Warnock Report (DES, 1978), to replace what was then the formal term for a group identified as being 'educationally sub-normal to a moderate degree', or ESN(M). The ESN(M) term was introduced in 1945 as one of eleven categories of educational handicap. Prior to this other terms were used to refer to a group of children who have been widely seen as constituting the largest group of children designated as having special educational needs. These have included mental deficiency, mentally defective, feeble-minded, mentally retarded, the backward child and the slow-learning child.

The introduction of the term MLD following the Warnock Report sat uneasily alongside the new framework for identifying children's individual need for additional or different provision based on their learning difficulties. One of the main reasons for the Warnock recommendation to abandon categories like ESN(M) was that categories like this did not indicate specifically what provision was required for the individual child. Nor did they take account of a child's other characteristics, perhaps significant assets, nor of the child's context, which might be supportive or inhibiting of their learning. Another reason was that categories like this became negative labels that were associated with stigma and personal devaluation. So, the concept of special educational needs was built on the assumption that special provision would be based on an individual needs assessment and that decisions about provision would not be in terms of general categories of difficulty or disability. The key concept introduced by the Warnock Report was that of a continuum of needs, such that those with special educational needs (SEN) could not be distinguished clearly from those without SEN. There was no definitive basis for a general qualitative difference. This thinking still underpins the current system of identifying children with SEN and decision-making about suitable educational provision.

Despite this, the Warnock Report and subsequent Government guidance still made use of general concepts, but replaced terms like educationally

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