The Politics of Inclusion

The Next Family

By: Stacie Lewis

Here, in Britain, we recently elected a new Prime Minister, David Cameron. We always knew that a change of government would make a big difference to the kind of services on offer to my daughter. Each of the parties talked about major cuts across public services and, while they feared a public revolt if they cut funding for the National Health Service (NHS) or to schools, smaller projects like the ones we benefit from are now fair game.

Last week, the government announced the largest cuts in over 50 years. It won’t just be families like mine that will feel the cuts, we all will. In America, as the end of big government is about to be voted in the winning ticket, spare a thought for your opposite. In Britain, big government is what we are about – or rather, it was what we were about. No longer. It is very frightening.

I worry about May accessing all her therapists as frequently as she needs, or her nursery receiving the funding to buy a special chair so they can accommodate her. There are so many ways this could affect us; I don’t know where to begin.

In one of the most illuminating moments of the campaign, parent Jonathan Bartley argued with David Cameron, about inclusion in education. Jonathan Bartley’s family spent years –and thousands of pounds –to force their local primary school to accept their son. If you think I had problems getting a nursery to take May, his story is far worse. He was a school governor and attended the adjoining church with his family (two of whom were already students at the school).

Unfortunately, his story is especially applicable to our family as he lives just up the road from us, in the same Local Education Authority.

You can read his story in full in The Telegraph.

I’m not sure what kind of schooling I want for May, but I know I want what every other parent wants: for her to be pushed to achieve, as well as warmly cared for. What I don’t want is someone else deciding for us which type – mainstream or a special school – would be best.

The arguments for not including – that you hurt the many to help the few –seem very shallow to me these days. When you work every day with a severely disabled child and see for yourself her amazing progress despite her injuries, it seems inconceivable that her taking part would be negative in any way. These parents that huff and puff about how it disadvantages their child, are severely limited themselves – in scope, imagination and a terrible superiority complex.

Stacie Lewis blogs at mamalewis

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