According to Warnock’s report of 1978, the special educational needs can be fluctuating and can also be contextually defined. Before the evaluation of this statement, we have to look at the Warnock report (1978) and the Special Educational Needs Code (2001) and how it reflects its understanding of the special educational needs.
The term special education needs (SEN) emerged from the 1978’s Warnock’s committee that had been set up to hold an inquiry into the education of the physically handicapped children and other young people who were interested in education. It was under the department of education and science in Britain. The Warnock’s committee had been set up to look into a concern that was coming up concerning the system of education which was becoming segregated and was discriminating against children who were physically challenged and was not providing them with positive, social and better educational opportunities like the other children who were physically fit. This report of 1978 advocated for three main reforms that were to be undertaken by the educational officials or all those who were responsible for the provision of educational services:
A. Locational integration of all children whereby the provision of educational services for both the children with special needs and their counterparts who were not physically challenged were to be made from the same site(Great Britain parliament 2006)
B. Social integration whereby all the children regardless of their physical state were to share the same social amenities that were provided by the educational centers for example playgrounds and other extra facilities for co-curricular activities.
C. The Warnock report advocated for functional integration of the children with special needs and those who were not physically challenged were all to be educated together for example they were to share the same classes whereby they were all supposed to be given the same opportunity in pursuing the same goals that had been set in the curriculum and any other objectives that were set by the educational administrators (Great Britain Parliament 2006).
Practices of SEN prior to Warnock.
There were many practices that were in place before the Warnock report of 1978 which were mainly directed to children with special needs. Before the report was made the children with special needs for example those who were suffering from a disability of the mind were classified as uneducable and unfit for the education that was offered at school. These children who had some inabilities were simply locked out of the normal learning institutions where the other children who had all abilities in a normal state were being educated.
Prior to the Warnock report of 1978, there were other practices that were directed toward the children who had some inabilities for example those who had a problem with their mind, those who were partially blind, those who could not speak properly or those who had language problem, those who were physically challenged and many other children who had some form of either physically challenge or internal challenges for example a mind problem.
These children were classified as uneducable under the normal schools and were forced to be educated and trained in special care units that were spread across England and some other hospitals that had been given the mandate of educating these learners with some form of disability. The health officials in this hospitals and special care units had been given the powers to be in charge of these children and to give them the required form of education. It is pretty obvious that in these centers where these learners with special needs were segregated to offered low quality education to them as compared to their peers who were being educated in the normal schools that had highly or better qualified teachers ( Farrell 2001)
Before the Warnock report of 1978, the parents of the children with special needs were not given an opportunity to air their views on the form of education that their children were being subjected to or to give any views regarding to the state of their children and what their children need. But after the report came into place in 1978, the parents of the disabled children were given an opportunity to give views and any information that was regarded professional concerning their disabled children as this was very important regarding to the provision of services that were necessary for them. The report agreed that the parents or guardians of these children had vital information regarding to the assessment, placement and educational processes of their children that were to be included or incorporated in the education al system in order to achieve all the goals and objectives of the educational curriculum.( Rogers 2007).
Reasons why the Warnock report of 1978 was such a break through.
The report made a breakthrough in the implementation of some educational issues that were affecting the children who had some form of deformities. There are many reasons why it is considered a success. First was the fact that it recognized children who had some inabilities as a deserving lot who also needed to be given equal opportunities to all educational opportunities just like the other normal children. This is the main reason why the report had to introduce the idea of special education needs (SEN) which was based on common educational goals for all the children of school going age regardless of their abilities i.e. whether physically challenged or not. The children under this category were also given the privileges that others who were not challenged in any way were being given for example independence, enjoyment and understanding.
It has to be known that before the Warnock report, all the children who had any form of disability were classified and defined using medical terms for example maladjusted and educationally subnormal and they were all segregated and given separate special educational treatment in different centers that had been set up all over England. The Warnock report brought all this to an end when it brought into the attention of the people and those who were working in the ministry of education the importance of having unsegregated form of education where all children were treated equally regardless of their abilities or deformities (parliamentary copyright 2006).
There are other reasons why Warnock report became such a breakthrough. Other than putting a stop on the segregation of children with special needs or those who are faced with some form of disabilities, the Warnock report led to the introduction of the policies whereby parents of the physically challenged children gave opinions or any other information regarding their children which was deemed as useful in the implementation of educational policies and in the provision of the necessary materials in order to achieve the highest learning goals for this learners. Prior to the report in 1978, parents of the children with special abilities could not give any information regarding to or concerning their children. The children were sent to centers that had been set up to give them some form of education and there wasn’t any form of participation from the parents. After the report was written parents became involved in the educational activities of their disabled children which in turn led to the improvement of facilities that the children could access and use since the parents gave useful information regarding the state of their children (Parliamentary copyright 2006).
The report required that all teachers who had any form of responsibility for the children with special needs to be trained in one way or another in order for them to have some considerable expertise regarding special education. This was necessary since all the children were now required to attend the same ordinary schools and since the report stated that per every five children who were going to school there was one who needed special attention. And since this child who needed special attention could no longer be isolated from the rest of the class who had all the required abilities then it forced the teachers to undergo some form of training in order to be able to handle all the learners in a professional way. It is a breakthrough in the report since this idea cemented the earlier opinions of having all the children attending the same ordinary schools. The teachers were also made aware of the importance of working closely with the parents of the children with special needs, other professionals and non-professionals who were concerned in helping those children who had special needs (Warnock 1978, p226)
Warnock report (1978) on special education needs (SEN) – what was new:
The report spoke a lot that was new concerning special education needs. First, the idea of educating both the handicapped children and those who were not handicapped was itself a new idea. It is known that before the Warnock (1978) report, the disabled children were all educated separately. The ones had some bodily disability, some disability of the mind and those who had no form of disability were all kept separately when it came to matters of education. Therefore the recommendation that they all get to be educated together was in itself a new idea to the special education needs of the children with some form of disability.
Training of teachers who were handling ordinary schools in order for them to be able to handle the learners who had a requirement for special education need was also a new thing that was being proposed by the Warnock report on special education needs. Before the report, teachers of the ordinary schools where only the learners who were considered normal went to, had no formal training on handling learning learners with special needs. The learners who had a need for special education were left to be trained in secluded learning centers that were specifically meant for them where they had some given professionals who took care of their educational needs. Therefore the introduction of the idea that all teachers be given some form of education in relation to the teaching of the leaners with special needs was in itself a new idea (Alur & Hegarty 2002).
The idea of using the opinions of parents was not there before the Warnock report (1978). It was a new idea that was being introduced. The parents of the children with special education needs were in cooperated in the learning activities of their children and any opinion that they gave, was given consideration. Also other individuals who were either professionals or non-professionals but were interested in helping the needy children were also given a chance to participate in the education of the children.
Special unit classes were to be set up in the ordinary schools to carter for the children who had extreme special needs. The location of both the special needs schools and the ordinary schools was to be in the same place i.e. same compound. The two schools were to share the same site. This form of integration was to bring worthwhile gains in terms of the children socializing together and growing up in an environment that will eventually dictate mutual understanding of each other. The parents too of these children will end feeling encouraged just from the mere fact that their children are also attending ordinary schools. On the side of the children who are disabled, they get to copy from their peers whom they are sharing the same amenities with for example playing fields (Warnock report 1978, p101).
Social interchange is another new idea imposed by the Warnock report (1978). The children with special needs and others who attend the same school but are not challenged in any way are given an opportunity to eat, play and consort together. This kind of social interchange that was new to special needs, gives the learners some form of self-recognition and easy acceptance of their condition. Before the Warnock report, children were brought up separately in schools. Those who went through this form of segregation had difficulties in accepting themselves as they were shown from an early age that they were different from the other children. After the report was made, the learners were integrated and the young ones who begun off in this later system found it so easy to accept their present condition.
Evaluation of Warnock’s original statement
Warnock’s original statement on integration of the learning environment to include both the children with special needs and other young learners who were in nee d of education with those who were considered normal learners does have validity today. This idea has brought an end to the acts that were there before whereby disabled children could either be denied education or put into some centers where they received minimal education. Today, not only in England where this report was made but also in the entire world, all children are given education regardless of their state. They are not discriminated due to their physical outlook. They are admitted to ordinary schools just like there other counterparts who are considered to be normal. The United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has also adopted the policy of integration and is advocating for the education of all the children regardless of their disability in order to make the world a better place.