Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

`There's a Role for Special Education'

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

`There's a Role for Special Education'

Article excerpt

Byline: By Neil Smith

John Wells faces a future without the school where he has spent almost half his life. By Neal Smith.

John Wells has spent the past 25 years at Hackwood Park School.

Now 53, Mr Wells is having to contemplate life at another school and perhaps a change of career direction.

"I have worked in special education since 1975 and when I leave Hackwood Park, I may end up back in mainstream education," said the father-of-two, who lives within walking distance of the school, in Hexham's Hackwood Park Estate.

"Just two years into my teaching career, I decided that working with children with special educational needs was something I was good at and I felt was very rewarding to do."

The head, whose passion for Hackwood is evident to anyone who meets him, will have to begin looking for a new job from next year as the school is due to close at the end of the summer term 2004.

"I have not thought too much about it because I have enough work to do here, but I suppose the inevitable day of closure will loom closer in the New Year and I will have to reconsider my future."

Mr Wells, whose wife is a primary school teacher, began his teaching career in Bradford in 1973 after he graduated in geography and education at Leeds. He was appointed deputy head of Hackwood in the mid-1980s and head in 1990.

"I feel a great sadness that the school is going to close," he said.

"Not just for personal reasons but for the staff, governors, parents and children that will be affected.

"I still believe there is a role for this type of school and I don't agree with the Government's policy of inclusion whereby children with special needs are encouraged to stay in mainstream schools.

"This would be fine if the resources and provision were there for them in these schools, but not all of them will get the same amount of care and attention they would at a small special school. …

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