OECD ON INCLUSION
Organisation for Economic
Co-operation and Development
CENTRE FOR EDUCATIONAL RESEARCH
INNOVATION GOVERNING BOARD
INCLUDING STUDENTS WITH SPECIAL EDUCATIONAL NEEDS
IN MAINSTREAM SCHOOLS
Lessons from the Case
We have provided selected passages
of the text of this remarkable 1999
report for your reading. Full text is available from OECD.
de Cooperation et de Developpement Economiques "
Organisation for Economic Co-operation
and Development OCDE
CERI/CD(99)2 OLIS : 16-Mar-1999 Dist. :
CENTRE FOR EDUCATIONAL RESEARCH AND
INNOVATION GOVERNING BOARD
SUSTAINING INCLUSIVE EDUCATION: INCLUDING
STUDENTS WITH SPECIAL EDUCATIONAL NEEDS IN MAINSTREAM SCHOOLS
Lessons from the Case Studies 75501
Complete document available on OLIS in
its original format
NOTE BY THE SECRETARIAT CERI/CD(99)2
TABLE OF CONTENTS
SEGREGATION, INTEGRATION AND INCLUSION
Legal and policy frameworks
Prevalence of children with special needs in the countries visited
Trends to inclusion
Funding and Resourcing
A comparison of costs entailed in integrated and segregated provision
Accountability and evaluation
Out of school support services
Within school support services.
Between school support
Parental and community involvement
School organisation and management - opportunities
for whole school development
Conclusions and policy implications
The development of a within school support approach
Is full inclusion possible?
Final concluding comment 42
CHAPTER 3 AUSTRALIA
THE NATIONAL PATTERN: SOME GENERAL INFORMATION
Parental and community involvement
Policy and legislation
Parental and community involvement
THE ESTABLISHMENTS VISITED
Accommodation and resources
(each country follows same report pattern)
CHAPTER 4 CANADA 66
CHAPTER 5 DENMARK
CHAPTER 6 GERMAN
CHAPTER 7 ICELAND
CHAPTER 8 ITALY
CHAPTER 9 UNITED KINGDOM.
CHAPTER 10 UNITED STATES
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY CERI/CD(99)2
10. Special education systems have developed
in order to cater for those children who stretch regular provision
to a point where additional resources must be made available
to provide the extra support needed for efficient learning. Although
this provision began in special establishments, which continue
to exist to this day, over the past 50 years there has been a
steadily increasing pressure to educate students with disabilities
in mainstream schools. Issues of equity and civil rights have
been important determinants, but other important influences include
changes in parental attitudes, teacher supply and training, better
equipped schools, changes to pedagogical methods and the introduction
of information technology.
Following the highly influential Warnock
Report (1978) compiled in the UK for the Department of Education
and Science on students with special educational needs, it has
been widely accepted in many countries that on average between
15 to 20 per cent of students will have special needs at some
time in their school careers. This means that in an average class
of 30 pupils, between 4 and 6 will be in need of different levels
of special help. It has also been recognized that these figures
will vary substantially according to the degree of deprivation
associated with the school districts concerned. An examination
of the available data (e.g. OECD, 1995, 1998) shows how closely
these estimates are approximated in many countries. Furthermore,
the numbers of students identified are increasing.
12. This study, carried out between 1995
and 1998, is based on a close examination of how inclusive practices
for a frequently excluded group of students with special educational
needs (SEN), namely those with disabilities, are being developed
and sustained in a sample of eight OECD countries; Australia,
Canada, Denmark, Germany, Iceland, Italy, the United Kingdom
and the United States of America. To the extent possible, the
same methodology was used in each country. The aims were to describe
national, regional and local policies on inclusion and school-based
practices and to identify the key issues involved via observations
and interviews with policy makers, administrators, teachers and
other related professionals, including parents and the students
13. Educating students with SEN in mainstream
schools remains an important goal for many countries and over
the past twenty years or so substantial progress has been, although
there is still much to achieve. In most countries, a less than
useful structural hiatus appears to continue to exist between
education and special education systems which allows neither
to benefit fully from the positive features of the other.
14. While the debate continues about whether
or not it is feasible to include all students in mainstream schools,
this report concludes that from organizational, curriculum and
pedagogical perspectives, given certain safeguards, there is
no reason to maintain generally segregated provision for disabled
students in public education systems. In fact, the changes to
the ways that schools function in areas such as pedagogy and
curriculum development, and in how they are supported by outside
agencies as a result of inclusive practices seems only to bring
benefits to all students; disabled and non-disabled alike. The
teamwork that special education and regular teachers can develop
thus effectively reducing student:teacher ratios, and the additional
skills brought by special education teachers to the classroom
and lesson planning are certainly part of the reason for these
15. From the many issues discussed seven
stand out as being of particular significance in developing and
sustaining inclusive education.
funding models for
schools and students should not work in such a way as to encourage
exclusion. They should work to encourage regular schools to keep
students with disabilities in mainstream schools. Moreover, the
evidence continues to show that on a per capita basis inclusive
systems are less costly to operate than segregated systems. The
results of efforts to link costs to outcomes differentiated by
settings in a formal cost-effectiveness evaluation, although
instructive and providing support for inclusion, are still preliminary.
systems of public accountability for schools, which are of growing importance, should
likewise not work in such a way to encourage regular schools
to exclude students with disabilities from these assessment frameworks.
pupil assessment should
be individualised and support the development of improved pedagogies,
curriculum differentiation and school wide curriculum development.
teacher:student and adult:student ratios
need to be reduced through the
use of specialist teachers and assistants allied to increased
flexibility in class size and composition.
the part-time or full-time presence
of a classroom assistant, not necessarily
a trained teacher, allocated specifically to enable targeted
support to be provided for students with SEN.
the functioning of support services
such as school psychologists and
social workers, should be mainly to empower the school and the
teachers to become their own problem-solvers and to stimulate
the school as a learning organisation, by passing on their skills
and supporting, in the first instance, teachers rather than students.
in the light of the above, the training
systems for teachers and other professionals appear to be
inadequately oriented for preparing trainees for the demands
of working in inclusive settings. The paucity of appropriate
training would appear to be helping to maintain an unnecessarily
high level of segregated provision.
16. Inclusion is more than a technical
process. Behind the concept lies a view of the rights of children
allied to a new way of thinking about the goals and methods of
education. This implies the need to reconsider education law
and policy holistically for all students, so that the needs of
all students can be met. This means that reviews should cover,
not only education systems and schooling but also the ways in
which support services co-ordinate their work together with education.
Closely linked to these considerations, is the need to develop
leadership at national and local levels to assist in carrying
through the difficult reforms that will be required.
SELECTED QUOTES (selection of pages and highlighting by Inclusion
Page 18 CERI/CD(99)2
19. The extensive work carried out by
OECD and many other organisations and individuals covering practical
examples and research analyses provide a substantial if not overwhelming
case to support the full integration of disabled children into
mainstream schools. But to achieve this, close attention has
to be given to the policy frameworks which guide developments
in education, such as parental choice, to the way in which schools
are organised and funded, and how teachers and students and their
families are supported.
20. The main factors blocking reform
to inclusion would seem to be a mixture of lack of political
will and human beings' interminable resistance to change. There
is, nevertheless, in many countries a move to include children
with special needs into mainstream schools, and it is a process
which has been followed avidly and described and evaluated in
many publications e.g. OECD (1994, 1995, 1997). But it remains
a process which is incomplete.
18. The professionals conducting formal
assessments invariably play a key role in day-to-day decisions
as to which of the children requiring IEPs should be placed in
special schools, and one of their main functions was often that
of ensuring that only children really requiring special schooling
would be so placed.
Trends to inclusion
19. Some data are available which reveal
trends over time. In general terms countries are increasingly
moving to more inclusive provision. In Italy this has been an
on-going process over the past 20 years. In Australia, as in
most of the countries visited, studies by ACER (the Australian
Council for Educational Research) across the whole country reveal
a decline in the proportion of students in special schools. In
New South Wales, a study by MacRae (1996) showed a reduction
from 32 per cent in 1988 to 16 per cent in 1997 in special schools.
The proportion of those maintained in special classes also declined
from 60 per cent in 1988 to 49 per cent in 1997. The proportion
increased for those in regular classes from 8 per cent in 1988
to 34 per cent in 1997.
20. But there are also anomalies. In Denmark,
one of the pioneers of the inclusive approach, it has already
been noted that there was, between 1981 and 1988, a statistically
significant trend revealing an increase in the use of special
classes in regular schools in preference to integration in regular
classes from 24 per cent to 32 per cent with a decline in the
use of regular classes over the same period from 26 per cent
to 22 per cent. However, the proportion in special schools also
declined from 50 per cent to 46 per cent.
21. In Australia, the need for some degree
of special school provision is still accepted, especially for
students with behaviour problems with histories of violence,
and in New South Wales new special schools for this group of
students are being opened with the intention of securing safe
school environments for the other students.
Funding and Resourcing
22. In most of the countries visited funding
arrangements for students with special needs were in a state
of flux. This was partly because the form of educational provision
was changing towards greater inclusion and partly because the
locus of funding was changing under general policies of decentralisation
which are impacting on the degree of control effected by central
administrations. In addition, relevant data were not readily
available. This may be, because up to now the provision of appropriate
education for disabled students has been viewed as of greater
significance than the costs.
23. However, the move to inclusion and
the introduction of the special needs framework seem to be associated,
in some countries, with increases in the numbers of children
identified and hence the costs to education of supporting them.
For example in the UK the numbers of certificated students (with
formal statements) and IEPs has increased
from 2.1 per cent to 2.9 per cent between 1992 and 1997 (Department
for Education and Employment, 1998) In the USA between 1989/90
and 1997 the numbers receiving special education services increased
from 7 to 12 per cent (US Department of Education, 1996). Inclusive
practices can have an impact since schools, in tightening financial
circumstances, may see opportunities for increasing their income
by pressing for more children to be assessed and certificated
than had been the case before. Greater awareness of the budget
has led to the costs of special education, and concerns about
its effectiveness, being placed higher on the policy agenda.
In federal countries, where there is provision
A comparison of costs entailed in integrated and segregated
40. Calculating the costs of special educational
provision is notoriously difficult although it is generally assumed
that the per capita cost is higher (OECD, 1995). This seems a
fairly safe assumption since student-teacher ratios are more
favourable for SEN students and teachers' salaries make up a
large proportion of the costs. In New Brunswick in Canada, where
there was functional inclusion, the cost of disabled students,
estimated at 5 per cent of the student population, was twice
that of non-disabled students. In Italy's national system it
was four times for 2.4 per cent. In a specially resourced functionally
inclusive school studied in Derbyshire in the UK the cost was
2.5 times with some 3 per cent of students on statements.
41. It is also generally agreed that
inclusive settings are less expensive than segregated ones. The
question of comparative costs was
carefully followed during the course of the study with administrators
and schools. Based on the funding allocated to schools, it emerges
that for systems as a whole special school provision tends to
be more costly than regular school provision; a common ratio
being about 1: 1.2. although in Reykjavik in Iceland the ratio
was nearer 1:5 reflecting the severe nature of the disabilities
contained in their special schools and where inclusion is strongly
developed. By contrast, a close inspection comparing per capita
costs between a special school and a regular school in the UK
revealed the regular inclusive school to be more costly (Annex
42. The most striking example of differences
in costs was found in Reykjavik, Iceland, where the most expensively
educated student with a disability in an ordinary school was
said to be a six year old boy with autism, who was receiving
highly specialised individual help. While the cost of providing
this was high, local education authority staff calculated this
to be no more than the average cost of educating the students
attending Reykjavik's special schools.
43. These findings can only be treated
tentatively and they need replication both within and among countries.
What the data point to, is the
importance of analyzing costs in the context of different educational
governance policies such as decentralisation. They also argue
for giving greater consideration to the links between the costs
and the effectiveness of different settings about which there
is little if any available data.
44. Among the countries visited, there
has been a trend in recent years towards the devolution of the
management of funding, from central government to regions, from
regions to districts, and in some instances to individual schools.
Where the extent of devolution of funds for ordinary education
differs from that for special education, this can influence the
extent to which inclusive education occurs. If funds for ordinary
schooling are borne from district budgets but those for special
schooling are managed at regional level, as in parts of Denmark
for example, districts may be tempted to press for special schooling
for their more expensive students.
45. By contrast, the example from Colorado
quoted above shows that the devolution of funding both for ordinary
education and for special education right down to the level of
the individual school can enhance inclusive education, if allocations
fully reflect costs.
Accountability and evaluation
46. Accountability, a policy issue of increasing
importance with an international dimension, has particular relevance
to a rights based view of inclusion and therefore for those with
special educational needs.
47. Accountability may be furthered by
national systems of school inspection, designed to assess the
extent to which the schools are providing value for money. Another
powerful tool in implementing the accountability model is the
publicizing of schools' examination results and the results of
nationally standardized tests of academic achievement. While
both may help to improve school performance generally, they can
also have the unfortunate side-effect of militating against inclusive
education practices, particularly if the accountability procedures
fail to take due account of children's abilities on entry to
the school concerned. Doubts raised by central government on
the value of mixed ability teaching and smaller class sizes can
also be unhelpful in the context of inclusive policies. In Italy,
for instance, successful inclusion is predicated on smaller class
48. Accountability procedures may have
the incidental effects of discouraging schools from taking on
children who are likely to perform poorly in examinations, of
encouraging schools to expel children whom they find difficult
to teach, or of tempting schools to omit children with learning
difficulties from testing programmes. Thurlow (1997), refers
to some two thirds of students with disabilities in schools in
the United States as having been excluded from the 1992 administration
of the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Other countries
point out that flexibility in the examination process is important
for inclusion and schools should also be willing to keep disabled
children in school beyond the normal school leaving age if this
49. The fact that accountability systems
can encourage competition between schools can clearly act as
a stimulus to their greater effectiveness. It can also, however,
deter them from co-operating, and cooperation between schools
is often a feature of special education in ordinary schools.
For example, schools can help children by providing a free flow
of information concerning children moving from one stage of education
to the next. Some systems have the flexibility to allow teachers
to cross the primary/secondary boundary and carry on giving support
to disabled children in the new setting.
50. Evaluation and accountability are central
concerns both for teaching practices and systems. Modified assessment
systems for those with SEN are seen as especially necessary and
also very helpful for developing new systems for all children.
IEPs need to be constantly reviewed.
51. At the system level, evaluation of
the SEN provision made, and a constant monitoring of the
accountability of professional staff involved was a common feature.
In one country indicators had been developed based on the provision
of equal academic opportunities, performance quality and accountability
to the community which were used to evaluate schools and districts.
52. In evaluating the effectiveness of
the inclusive education they were providing, the education authorities
concerned tended to rely on the informed opinion of their own
educational advisers and on the views of bodies representing
parents of children with disabilities. There were instances,
however, in which investigations had been conducted on a more
systematic quantitative basis.
53. In the Woodstock district of New
Brunswick, Canada, where the educational strategies used were
seen to be particularly effective, in a pan-Canadian comparison,
the measured educational achievements of students generally were
above what might have been expected on the basis of socioeconomic
factors, and the Director of Education concerned publicly attributed
these results to inclusive education.
54. In Colorado, United States, rigorous
quinquennial reviews of provision were undertaken, and outcomes
in the Commerce City district visited had been reassuringly positive.
55. In New South Wales, Australia, the
government had commissioned a particularly extensive independent
feasibility study of inclusion. While the ensuing report identified
weaknesses still to be addressed, it also recognised substantial
and beneficial growth over recent years in the education of students
with disabilities in ordinary classes.
56. Finally, and not amenable to identification
through the measurement of conventional academic achievement,
across the countries visited there was the evident effectiveness
of inclusion, not only in educating children with disabilities,
but also in helping children and adults without disabilities
to empathise with these children and to increase their own understanding
of the nature of disability. The Danish girl who unobtrusively
took the blind child by the hand when the class moved on to the
school library provided just one among numerous such examples.
57. In most of the countries visited the
training of teachers to work with students with SEN was accorded
a high priority. In some, it was a requirement for all teachers,
in others, specialist courses were a requirement for teaching
those with SEN. Courses are offered at different levels, thus
recognising the need for a variety of skills for severe and specific
needs and also to develop leadership. Interestingly, a recent
US study has shown that teachers working in special education
are. better qualified than the rest of the teaching staff (Hocutt,
1996). INSET was also offered in many countries. In Colorado,
training particularly emphasised working in included settings
and in Italy, too, the on-the-job method of training per se encouraged
inclusive approaches. Many local authorities produce training
and information packs for those working in the schools or for
new employees. Germany was perhaps the big exception with SEN
training being heavily oriented to the special school. In Denmark,
despite her inclusionary practices, SEN training did not appear
to be emphasised at initial teacher training and INSET courses
were not always easy to get or very extensive even for those
working with students with sensory impairments where very specific
knowledge is required.
58. If Denmark is considered to be a special
case, perhaps because of her long history of inclusion, countries
operating inclusive systems or moving in that direction clearly
give training for work with disabilities high priority, and training
is almost certainly one of the key elements for success. A high
practical content seems to be a feature of many of these offerings
and one of the goals should be to change
111. In reality, there is still substantial
debate over the desirability and feasibility of inclusion. Nevertheless,
including students with special needs in regular schools is an
internationally supported policy initiative that operates alongside
others, such as concerns for equity, human rights and the development
of strategies for lifelong learning and decentralisation and
should be given equal consideration during reviews of education
policy and planning. The substantial sums of money devoted to
the education of those with SEN can be seen as a positive discrimination
in favour of the most disadvantaged in our societies with the
goal of equalizing opportunities. But full inclusion remains
only a dim reality in many countries despite its demonstrated
potential for assisting all students and for creating more efficient,
effective and economical education systems.
112. For a variety of reasons, the education
systems of OECD countries have grown up during a period in which
segregating some students with special educational needs has
been seen to be necessary for the efficient functioning of the
service for the majority of students. This has led to the development
of two systems, operating in parallel, with students with special
needs being given additional support to assist in their education.
113. This has had the effect of creating,
first, a regular system which does not feel it has to adapt to
the needs of all children, and second, a special system which
collects the rejects and with considerable additional resources,
often in segregated settings, attempts to remedy the failings
of the first. Neither of these outcomes is desirable and neither
is commensurate with current views on equity and student's rights.
114. Inclusion is a process which aims
to correct these developments through changes to the structure
and functioning of educational systems and school practices to
the benefit of all students. Bringing together the legal and
financial frameworks covering regular and special education and
making the unified system responsible for the education of all
students are fundamental goals.
115. Inclusive schools are learning organisations
in which teachers are adapting their pedagogies to the diversity
of learning demands presented by individual children. They are
doing this in the context of the development of the whole school
which is also responding flexibly to individual learning needs
through modifications to its structure and function. In this
way, the school accepts its responsibility to educate all children,
thus challenging the education/special education dualism. Schools
do not, of course, operate in a vacuum, and inclusion also implies
changes in the way they are controlled by central and local authorities
and in the way teachers and other professionals are prepared
through pre-service and inservice training.
116. This does not mean that these reforms
can be achieved with none of the usual special education resources,
quite the contrary. But it does mean that the locus of control
and the organization of these resources must change and become
a whole school issue. This outcome has implications especially
for funding and training.
122. In the cases considered in this report,
disabled students generally cost approximately two to four times
as much as non-disabled students when educated in mainstream
schools and rather more if educated in special schools. The figures
here vary very widely and are very influenced by particular circumstances.
Preliminary work, carried out in the UK, and reported in Annex
3, had the goal of linking costs to outcomes to compare inclusive
and segregated provision. It did not prove possible to carry
out a formal cost-effectiveness analysis, because of lack of
data, but the pilot information gathered is suggestive that since
reading outcomes were superior in the regular school for equivalent
students the inclusive setting would prove to be more cost-effective.
123. Funding arrangements can lead to uneven
playing fields as far as inclusion is concerned, for instance
with included special needs children attracting lower rates of
support than equivalent segregated students. Funding arrangements
and formulae have come under close scrutiny in many countries
in order to avoid such bias and new arrangements may even tilt
the pitch in favour of inclusion.
124. Accountability is an important, necessary
and growing element of education systems. However, developments
are often realized for education systems alone not taking into
account special education systems and this itself can lead to
further obstacles to inclusion. They may, for instance, discourage
regular schools from taking on special needs students who are
likely to perform poorly in examinations. While this may be true
for some special needs students, as noted above, the evidence
which exists suggests, perhaps counter-intuitively, that inclusive
practices in fact improve the performance of nonspecial needs
students. In part, this may be because of the increased attention
given to pedagogy and curriculum differentiation which generalizes
teaching skills to all pupils. This is an important issue and
needs further work. The OECD education indicators certainly provide
a potential window to investigate this outcome more fully and
even to link costs with outcomes.
Is full inclusion possible?
125. Based on the examples of inclusion
described in this book it would be fair to conclude that from
an educational point of view there is no limit to the degree
of inclusion possible. All children however heavily disabled
can be included in regular schools with no detriment to themselves
or other pupils.
126. There are three caveats related
to full inclusion. The first is essentially political. It would
seem that at present, many parents would prefer their disabled
children to attend segregated schools. In governance models,
where choice is emphasised, in the present circumstances there
would seem to be no option but to maintain some segregated provision.
The cost appears not to be prohibitive. However, this decision
has to be set against the inhibitive effect such an option would
have on reform processes and the practicalities of maintaining
a dual system. The question then has to be; is there an educational
rationale for maintaining segregated provision in a public education
system? Given the evidence gathered here, the answer is no!
127. The second caveat relates to students
with severe emotional problems who present a danger to other
pupils. The ever increasing numbers of violent students appearing
at younger and younger ages seems to be a widespread international
phenomenon. If such problems cannot be prevented by or contained
in the school through the development of the skills and methods
identified above then other forms of provision will be needed.
In addition, the study completed in the UK, suggests that with
well structured, consistent and fair disciplinary procedures
rates of exclusion for poor behaviour can be reduced.
128. The third caveat comes from disabled
students themselves, who pointed out that from time to time they
like to be able to mix with other students with similar disabilities.
It would be desirable if provision to meet this human need for
solidarity were made available.
Final concluding comment
129. Central governments have a key leadership
role to play in developing inclusive policies not only from the
point of view of implementing international agreements but also
in co-ordinating policies across the education/special education
divide. This means giving consideration to the legal frameworks
in operation, to coherence in education reform policies, to the
development of training for the professionals involved, the involvement
of other statutory services and the community at large. Monitoring
the course of these reforms is also an essential component not
least because substantial sums of money are involved in providing
the additional resources that are made available to students
with SEN which often emanate from central ministry funds.
130. The importance of leadership at national,
regional and local levels in developing and sustaining inclusive
education cannot be underestimated. Many of the individuals currently
involved have substantial international reputations in the rapidly
growing international inclusion movement.
131. Including disabled students does
not end with schooling and there is a growing demand for access
to post-compulsory educational provision, including universities,
to strengthen disabled people's chances on the labour market
and their inclusion into society. A review of post-compulsory
education for disabled students was carried out as a part of
this study and has already been published (OECD, 1997). Further
work is being undertaken in this area.