Inclusion proves elusive for special needs children

14 Oct 04
Too few children with special educational needs (SEN) and disabilities are being educated in mainstream schools despite government action, the school inspectorate said this week.

15 October 2004

Too few children with special educational needs (SEN) and disabilities are being educated in mainstream schools despite government action, the school inspectorate said this week.

Ofsted's October 12 report, Special educational needs and disability: towards inclusive schools, found that although more schools regard themselves as inclusive, attitudes and practices have been slow to shift.

A revised inclusion framework, introduced in 2001, has contributed to better awareness but made little difference. The number of pupils in special schools has increased by 10% since 2001, while the number in pupil referral units increased by 25%.

A particular stumbling block identified is the admission of pupils with social and behavioural difficulties. Chief schools inspector David Bell said: 'Continued efforts are called for to ensure that more mainstream schools have the capacity and staff are confident about admitting and supporting pupils with more complex needs.'

But Steve Sinnott, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said he had concerns about some aspects of the report. 'Teachers have to have regard for the education of all other children in the school. Their education must not be disrupted by the behaviour of children with special needs,' he said.

Bert Massie, chair of the Disability Rights Commission, said: 'We need a serious rethink of a mainstream education system that views disabled children, those with SEN and underperforming children as one and the same.'

PFoct2004

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