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  4. Recent history and the development of neoliberalism and learning disability services: Looking back to secure a better future

Recent history and the development of neoliberalism and learning disability services: Looking back to secure a better future

Theophilus M Tambi

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The distribution of social justice, including services for people experiencing learning disabilities, is influenced by political and economic ideas and ways of thinking. In this paper, I look at two related things at the same time.

On the one hand, I look at the history and development of key political and economic ideas behind recent successive governments in England leading to the point where the current government seems to be obsessed with the idea of neoliberalism. Neoliberalism is mainly the idea that public services are best provided by the private sector with minimal government intervention.

On the other hand, I trace the history and development of key ideas about learning disabilities. While highlighting a link between the history and development of the political/economic ideas of successive governments and the history and development of ideas about learning disabilities, I argue that learning disability services have been determined by these political/economic ideas to the point where there is an emergent financial model of disabilities informing the provision of services.

Contending that this new model is unjust and would continue to make things worse for people experiencing disabilities, I suggest that people who have interest in learning disabilities matters need a more unified and revived political and economic commitment in order to interrupt the current state and direction of service provision for people experiencing disabilities.

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Speaker biography

Theophilus Tambi MA Social Work, M.Ed Special/Inclusive Education, MA Comparative Literature, PGCE Adult Lit., BA Eng Lang & Lit.

A Practice Consultant in Statutory Special Educational Needs and Disability service and a Service Improvement Partner in Inclusive Education. Theo has over fifteen years of UK experience working within special and inclusive education covering various roles including Lecturer in SEND, Higher Education Lecturer and Programme Leader in Special Education Studies, SEND Officer for various local authorities, and Head of Education in specialist college of further education. Theo is Managing Director of Moma Education and Social Work Services Ltd, a rapidly expanding provider in education and social care consultancy and service improvement. Theo is also currently preparing to submit a thesis for professional doctorate in inclusive education.

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About the Group

If you woud like to get in touch with the Social History of Learning Disability (SHLD) Research Group, please contact:

Liz Tilley 
Chair of the Social History of Learning Disability (SHLD) Research Group
School of Health, Wellbeing and Social Care
Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies
The Open University
Walton Hall
Milton Keynes
MK7 6AA

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