Our Heritage Project journey has been quite eventful with lots of highs, positive feedback, and new experiences. We are grateful to the National lottery Heritage Fund for allowing us to extend the project and for funding this work in allowing important stories to be uncovered about Learning Disability history. Despite the pandemic they have been flexible so that we can continue to finish the project with some great materials that people can learn from.
Although our plans changed, we still kept in touch with the schools when we could. We had virtual meetings with our oral history recording groups and let them see what we were planning to do.
It has been 50 years since everyone got the right to an education, yet there are still negative news stories of how people with learning disabilities are being treated.
I found it really upsetting on the news seeing a young boy in London with autism being treated badly at his special school. This left him to think that he had been punished or done something wrong, and that he didn’t want autism as it was seen as a negative. We have looked at the negative sides and positive sides of special education and we have been very impressed with the schools we worked with, but there are still some incidents of bad practice. On the whole, things have definitely improved since the 1970s. There was recently a BBC documentary showing how black kids were put into “Educationally Sub Normal” schools, where they weren’t given an appropriate level of education. You can read about and watch it here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-57099654.amp
I hope in the future that all special schools will be seen in a positive light and that all abuse, whether in care homes or schools, will be stopped. We may have a disability, but we are human beings and have feelings just like everyone else. There is no need for the treatment we receive in places like Winterbourne, the special school in London and all the institutions where people with disabilities used to be forced to live.