This presentation seeks to explore underlying assumptions in conventional ways of understanding special education. It is often assumed that disabled children should be educated in special schools. This habit, which many nowadays see as a breach of children’s rights, was established in an era when disabled people were thought to have no place in mainstream society. Today full access to mainstream life and institutions is enshrined in law, but education has yet to respond to the criticism that mainstream school structures, more than pupils’ impairments, constitute barriers to learning and participation.
This paper explores conventional educational practices and disabled children’s sense of belonging to their local community, from the standpoint of the social model of disability. During the presentation, a collection of brief narratives will be juxtaposed with opportunities for comment or reflection.
It is my aim to invite delegates to explore their own standpoints from a range of perspectives; this could potentially lead some delegates to new conclusions. Articulating my own conclusions in advance would undermine this process.