1st Edition

Including Children and Young People with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities in Learning and Life How Far Have We Come Since the Warnock Enquiry – and Where Do We Go Next?

Edited By Rob Webster Copyright 2019

    Marking the 40th anniversary of the Warnock Enquiry (1978) into special education in the UK and capturing the coverage of a public debate on special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) hosted by the University College London Institue of Education (2018), this volume explores the legacy of the Enquiry, considering how it has impacted on policy and practice relating to SEND and inclusion, and how it will continue to do so.

    Offering historical perspectives and drawing on professional and personal experiences, high-profile contributors, including practitioners, researchers, campaigners and parents, reflect on the approaches taken during the Warnock Enquiry and consider how successfully recommendations have been implemented. Reviewing conceptional and practical territory covered by the Warnock committee, and assessing the current state of the inclusion and education of young people with SEND in the UK, the text sets out broad, evidence-based principles for rethinking inclusive practice and explores topics including:

    • the purposes, contribution and impacts of the Warnock Enquiry
    • rights-based approaches to the education of children with SEND
    • past and present dialogue between mainstream and specialist settings
    • challenges faced by parents of children with SEND
    • implications of the Enquiry for initial teacher training
    • perceptions of SEND in the media
    • the relevance of the Enquiry to policy and practice in the years ahead.

    This invaluable text will widen current debates by exploring how persistent problems relating to inclusion and the education of children and young people with SEND might be resolved. It is an essential read for researchers, educationalists, practitioners and families involved in the education of children with SEND.


    Foreword – Dr Adam Boddison

    Contributor biographies

    Editor’s introduction

    1. Looking back: a brief history of the Warnock Enquiry – Rob Webster

    2. Interview with Baroness Mary Warnock

    3. Going to school in an ambulance – Paul Warren

    4. Recognising paradigm shifts: lessons from the Warnock Report – Klaus Wedell

    5. Including children and young people with complex needs in learning and life – Peter Imray

    6. Pre-service teacher training and special educational needs in England, 1978–2018: looking back and moving forward? – Dr Alan Hodkinson

    7. The rights of the child with special educational needs – Dr Maggie Atkinson

    8. ‘Equality, belonging, value, humanity’ – Tara Flood

    9. The chapter that nearly didn’t get written – Nancy Gedge and Sally Phillips

    10. Normalising difference: resetting perceptions of SEND in the media – Jon Severs

    11. The debate continues – Vijita Patel

    12. Swimming against the tide – Vic Goddard

    13. Special educational needs and the power of the arts – Andria Zafirakou

    14. Moving special education on: teaching, conversation and love – Ruth Cigman

    15. The case for a broader policy framework for special needs and inclusive education: where we could go next – Brahm Norwich

    16. Looking forward: using the Warnock Report to chart a way forward – Rob Webster



    Rob Webster is Associate Professor at the Centre for Inclusive Education, UCL Institute of Education, UK.

    Perfectly timed, this book enables the contributors and the readers to reflect on both the journey and current state of education for children with SEND. Informative, challenging, heart-warming and heart-breaking, this is a diverse anthology for parents and educators alike. I particularly enjoyed the nuanced personal tales, the essential rage, and complete commitment to a vision where all children have their needs met unconditionally. The interview with Baroness Warnock herself provides a reflective insight to one of the seminal pieces of educational parliamentary work of our time.

    Keziah Featherstone, Head of School, Q3 Academy Tipton, UK

    This book identifies significant challenges that must be overcome to ensure every child with SEND is served well by the English education system. It puts forward a pragmatic and clear case outlining how the situation might be improved, exploring areas including accountability and inclusion, teacher training and supply, the availability of school places, and attitudes toward children with SEND. This book is essential reading for professionals, parents and policymakers interested in practical ideas to improve the educational experience for children with SEND.

    Anne Heavey, National Director, Whole School SEND, UK

    This is a powerful and important publication in which Rob Webster has brought together a diverse range of some of the most important voices in education today. This book provides us with a chastening reminder of the days when the state wrote children off as ‘mentally defective’ and sent them to schools for the ‘educationally sub-normal’. We have come a long way since those dark days, but the real power of this book is that it makes it clear how far we still have to go.

    Jarlath O'Brien, Director for Schools, The Eden Academy, UK

    This book is a call to arms and deserves attention. It builds on the educational and moral rationale, and picks up on the strong economic case for inclusion too. Rob Webster has brought a new lens to the inclusion debate, helping us all to think forward, rather than backwards.

    Margaret Mulholland, Director of Development and Research, Swiss Cottage School, Development and Research Centre, UK

    This book is ideal for those working in initial teacher education, whether student teachers, tutors or mentors. It will help readers gain great insights into the past, present and potential future of the complex policy environment for SEND, and the very real practical implications arising from this for pupils, teachers and parents. Importantly, it also offers practical advice and sensible ways forward.

    Professor Samantha Twiselton OBE, Director of Sheffield Institute of Education, Sheffield Hallam University, UK