1.1 What children's perspectives tell us about inclusion
Every child's experience of education is different and this means that inevitably all children will be at different stages of the ‘journey’ towards inclusion that we are considering in this course. In reflecting children's perspectives it is, therefore, difficult to avoid descriptions of situations that are far from ideal. However, these situations can be seen as steps along the way. This will not, sadly, reduce the impact of unsatisfactory situations on the children themselves. Certainly the education system in the UK has progressed enormously since Mabel Cooper's school days.
There used to be children, there used to be two wards of children. One for little boys and one for girls. There was no school there, they only let you use your hands by making baskets and doing all that sort of thing. That's all you did. In them days they said you wasn't able to learn so you didn't go to school you went to like a big ward and they had tables. You just went there and made baskets or what-have-you. Because in them days they said you wasn't capable enough to learn to do anything else, so that's what you did.
Today, after the closure of such institutions, Mabel works for the People First self-advocacy group helping to give a voice to people who have been kept in silence. Within one person's lifetime we have come a long way in what we expect from educational experiences and who we listen to. Society is now beginning to ask people about their experiences and opinions of the services that are designed for them. This may be seen as the start of a more participatory and inclusive approach.