Purdy, N., Hunter, J., Totton, L.
Examining the legacy of the Warnock Report in Northern Ireland: A Foucauldian genealogical approach
(2020) British Educational Research Journal, 46 (3), pp. 706-723.
Over 40 years after the publication of the Report of the Committee of Enquiry into the Education of Handicapped Children and Young People, commonly referred to as the Warnock Report, this article uniquely considers its legacy in the context of Northern Ireland. The article adopts a Foucauldian genealogical approach to consider first the specific context of the ‘emergence’ or ‘origins’ of the Warnock Report in the 1970s, highlighting competing political forces and the positioning of the report at the very end of the age of post-war welfarism. The approach details the key elements of the Warnock Report itself, and then charts the resulting development of SEN policy in Northern Ireland, culminating in the faltering process of reform which began in 2006 and has been partially completed but which has recently been halted by the collapse of the power-sharing Executive and the suspension of the Northern Ireland Assembly in January 2017. The legacy of the Warnock Report is critically examined, identifying the main positive contributions of the report but also acknowledging the enduring challenges set against a complex current financial and political context. Finally, rather than leaving Warnock completely behind, a case is made for a fresh, detailed, context-specific reading of this seminal report. © 2020 British Educational Research Association
Foucault; inclusion; special educational needs; Warnock