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Breaking down barriers in our schools and community

24 April, 2009 - by Caitríona Ruane

Education Minister, Caitríona Ruane, today spoke of the need for inclusion of children with special needs into schools of their choice.

Speaking at the International Inclusion Conference at Fleming Fulton special school in Belfast, the Minister told delegates that the acceptance of difference is best generated at the earliest stage in childhood.

The Minister said: “Inclusion can be used to mean many things, not only the placement of pupils with Special Educational Needs in mainstream schools but also the participation of all pupils in the curriculum and social life. For most children, placement in a mainstream school and involvement in the wider community leads naturally on to other forms of inclusion.”

The Minister went onto say: “Inclusion in all its forms underlies many of my department’s strategies and we are actively working to ensure that all young people have the opportunity to become fully included in a positive educational experience.

“What we aspire to is an inclusive education system in which children spend as much time as possible in a mainstream setting. This does not presuppose the integration of all children into a mainstream setting. What we need to ensure is that special schools become part of a wider learning community. It is important that children with special educational needs or disabilities can be educated together with other children and they all have the access to the same range of educational opportunities.”

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