Special Educational Needs Essay

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Special Educational Needs A history of special education In the early part of the 20th century, ideas about the provision of education for children with special needs were based on a medical model of ‘defects’. This model focused on difference rather than normality, on illness rather than well being, and particularly on the ‘problem’ with the child (Lewis, 1999). Children were given medically diagnosed categories with the emphasis on deficit rather than potential. Therefore, it is hardly surprising that education for children with special educational needs originally took the form of separate, special schools for those who were thought to need them. Psychometric testing by early psychologists (such as Cyril Burt) also confirmed this type of approach to disability and difference. The educational reforms of 1944 In 1944, significant reforms to the education system were brought into effect. Most of these reforms were directed at mainstream education and the provision of free education for all. The 1944 Act also addressed certain aspects of education for children with special needs. However, its approach to, and definitions of children with special needs was not as liberating as its prescriptions for education in general. The act still focused on a medical model of disability. It established eleven categories of ‘handicap’, and children falling into these categories were described in terms of the ‘treatment’ they could receive. Special schools were still seen as the most appropriate way to educate children with special needs, although limited recognition was given to the provision of education in mainstream schools. The 1944 act still referred to children who ‘suffered from a disability of mind or body’, and so clearly focused on special schools’ as catering for ‘handicapped’ children. Education through the 1960s and 70s In the 1960s and 70s,
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