Michelle Daly: Inclusive Education

Michelle was born in 1972 in Newham, London. She attended a local special school from age five until sixteen and then went on to a local mainstream college.

Here Michelle talks about inclusion in schools.


I think we have to think about what Inclusive Education really means and Inclusion in Education because at the moment, while we are speaking a lot about Inclusive Education and youngsters going into mainstream schools, I don’t think they’re being included. Even in the better Inclusive schools, there are still some practices that are to be questioned and also we have to recognise that Inclusive Education is not just about academic achievement. It provides us with many skills around our social development and around our survival skills as well and these are skills that we need for the world, to be able to cope and if you don’t develop many of those skills, you will be seen as different. You will be questioned that you’re not age appropriate, socially immature. There’s so many skills that you do gain from being part of everybody, than (that you don't gain) when you separate a group of people. When you separate a group of people, based on an issue and for society our issue is our impairment, for which we’re seen as different, then you’re sending out a message that these people don’t belong in society, that they’re sub human and when you send that message out, you start segregating people on every account and every account is everything, down to transport, down to relationships, down to employment, down to travelling abroad and the list goes on. So if we cannot get Inclusion in Education right, it has an effect on lots of other things as well because we become adults and adults set the seed from the start and that seed will grow and it will grow with a message that sometimes it’s difficult to change. And I think you asked me the question, 'What needs to change?' There’s lots of things that need to change, you can’t single out one thing and say that one thing needs to change. Everything needs to change, to make it right. If one child has to leave school ten minutes early, so that they can get transport to go home, that’s wrong because that ten minutes of leaving school early means they’ve missed out possibly on their homework that was going to be set, whether a person’s going to be inviting them to a party after school, pranks with their friends. Does that boy fancy you or does that girl fancy you? and so on and so on. There’s lots of things that you’ll miss out in that last ten minutes that is vital to an individual. So even for Inclusion, we have to make sure that the setting is not rigid, that the person can really be included in the facility in respect to allow that individual to really engage and develop into an adult that can really function and be part of the world. So in answering the question, I think it’s difficult to answer the question while we have so many things that make it difficult for young people and adults to really engage because of the rigidness of the way the system is. The system really, at the moment, it says you’re included but you’re not included. It says you’re included but we’re going to operate separate systems for you as well. Yeah, so it’s a bit, you might say, it’s integration and integration is an illusion of Inclusion really.