This discussion paper is drawn from a qualitative research project comparing the effect of special and ordinary schools on the lives of children, young people and their families. Special schools are recommended by health professionals who seldom know how ineffective these schools are. We question the beneficence and justice of health professionals' advice on education for children with disabilities and other difficulties. Cooperation with local education authorities (LEAs) plays a considerable part in the work of community paediatricians, clinical medical officers, therapists and other health professionals encountering children with "special needs". The "needs" range from physical disability and sensory impairment to learning difficulties and emotional or behavioural difficulties. This cooperation involves routine administrative problems, but it raises broad ethical issues too, particularly in respect of current tendencies in state schooling towards the integration or inclusion of these children in mainstream schools and classes.
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