Mainstream schools can’t manage special needs pupils, say teachers

By Tony Halpin
Union calls for an end to the policy of inclusion after a study suggests that it harms all children

THE policy of educating children with special needs in mainstream schools has failed and must be changed immediately, the country’s biggest teaching union said yesterday.

The National Union of Teachers dramatically reversed decades of support for “inclusion” and demanded a halt to the closure of special schools. It called on the Government to carry out “an urgent review of inclusion in policy and practice”.

The union issued a report by academics at Cambridge University, which suggested that inclusion was harming children with special needs, undermining the education of others and leaving teachers exhausted as they struggled to cope with severe behavioural and medical conditions.

John MacBeath, one of the authors, described inclusion “as a form of abuse” for some children, who were placed in “totally inappropriate” schools where they inevitably failed.

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Tax breaks for children’s sport programs, why not arts as well?

The Steven Harper government has introduced tax credits for parents who shell out money to enable their kids to play sports. Some parents have started an on-line petition asking that similar recognition be given parents whose children participate in the arts.

To: Government of Canada

The decision by the Government of Canada in its most recent budget to give a tax credit to the parents of children taking part in organized sports (the so-called “soccer mom” credit) is fundamentally unfair. It provides a subsidy to one group of citizens by making a value judgement about the activities in which they choose to involve their children.

The implicit assumption is that involvement in traditional sports has a higher value than taking piano or dance lessons, taking classes in the visual and dramatic arts, singing in a youth choir or taking part in debating or chess clubs. This is unsupportable in fact and undemocratic in its effects. Parents who choose to spend their money on developing the aesthetic, cultural and artistic gifts of their children should not be discriminated against in favour of parents who choose to support their childrens’ athletic abilities.

Therefore, the undersigned petition the government to reconsider its announced policy and to extend the tax credit to all children and to any activity in which parents enroll their children for their mental, artistic or physical well-being.


Sign petition here!Media discussions of the tac credit issue

CBC Reality Check

CBC Coverage of the election promise

CTV Budget coverage

CUPE budget analysis

Sports Matter Blog

CMAJ Canada’s Health Journal on the budget on the budget and the alternative budget