After the Warnock report in 1978, the 1981 Education Act stated that disabled children should be taught in mainstream schools and that residential schools for disabled children were seen as a second option.
As a disabled person who attended a mainstream school, this legislation is philanthropic in nature and its purposes does not translate well into reality. As a deaf person, I was more isolated and my education suffered – mainstream school teachers could not possible equip me with the skills for life.
Residential schools for disabled children are there for a purpose: to bring the best teaching and resources to those who need them, give children equal peers and establish their own identity, and give disabled children the best start in life. Mainstream education has only made disabled children more aware that they are excluded from their peers by experiencing oppression daily.
This legislation should be scrapped and replaced with providing parents the liberty to choose whether to send their child to a mainstream or specialist school. The child themselves should also have a say (respective to their age and ability). At the moment, parents wanting to send their children to a specialist school would need to fight in a tribunal, it is costly and expensive. Mainstream education is expensive, money is spent on adapting building but education is still substandard.
Disabled children have been pushed from one philosophy to another, we now need to work with reality. Poor education for disabled children in mainstream schools is not good enough, so let disabled children have the freedom to vote with their feet.