Special-needs pupils face wide variation in provision

28 Nov 02
The teaching of children with special education needs (SEN) varies widely and with 'much inequity', according to the Audit Commission.

29 November 2002

The watchdog has reported that the support children with SEN receive depends on the school they attend, where they live and their family background. A child is defined as having SEN if he or she has a learning difficulty that requires special teaching. One in five children has SEN.

The Audit Commission's report Special education needs: a mainstream issue, published on November 29, found that early intervention can make a great difference but arrangements for funding SEN provision in early years settings were 'incoherent and piecemeal'.

The report called on government to fund local education authorities so they can expand their SEN teaching to cover early years.

The Audit Commission maintained that children with SEN should be taught in local mainstream schools but noted that parents experienced 'unwelcoming attitudes' in some schools.

It called on the government to fund investment in staff skills and facilities to make schools more inclusive. The commission suggested the creation of award schemes to recognise the inclusive approach of some schools.

Sir Andrew Foster, controller of the commission said: 'League tables weaken schools' commitment to working with pupils with SEN for fear they will drag down their position.

'For children with SEN, too much depends on which school you go to or where you live. We need to build schools' capacity to respond to the wide range of children's needs. Increasing teachers' skills and confidence is a priority.'


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