Thursday, March 4, 2010

Schools' attitudes to disability must change

Recently The Irish Times revealed how many fee-paying schools appear to be excluding children with special educational needs. In responding to this list, in their Talkback section, Ann Heelan raised the question: Why are so many professionals involved in education behaving in this unacceptable way?

The answer she argues is that professional staff and parents see the child with the disability as the problem. Many children with disabilities are being inadvertently discriminated against in Irish schools because of attitudes and unchallenged thinking about disability.

It is nearly a cliche, but many principals, staff and parents focus on the disability rather than the child. In schools where parents are paying high fees, disability is perceived as a threat to the concept of the gold star student. This is a myth and needs to be challenged. It is unacceptable and leads to discrimination and exclusion of very able students.

See for the full article.