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Does the Special Educational Needs system require an overhaul?

11:46 UK time, Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Ofsted says thousands of pupils in England are being wrongly labelled as having Special Educational Needs (SEN) when what they require is better teaching and support. Is the system working?

More than a fifth of school pupils in England have been identified as having a special educational need but Ofsted say the term is being used too widely and up to 25% of these just need better teaching and pastoral support.

The National Union of Teachers say the claims were "insulting and wrong". Its deputy general secretary told the BBC the report overlooked pressures on teachers and was "softening up the public to cuts to SEN budgets".

Is the current system labelling too many children with an SEN? Are pressures on teachers leading to increased numbers of SEN pupils? Are you a parent or teacher? What changes, if any, would you make to the system?

This debate has closed. Thank you for your comments.

Comments

Page 1 of 4

  • Comment number 1.

    I have a nasty feeling that the Coalition 'Choppers' have had a hand in this theory. They are obviously looking for ways of cutting costs in Statementing Children, sending them to Special Schools and providing Transport and associated financial support.

  • Comment number 2.

    I'm sure that some kids are just a bit slow, some have been badly taught and some are just downright naughty. That said, it is important that these kids are weeded out and the system for kids with SEN's is maintained and improved. Like many publicly managed systems, those who really need the system should be protected.

  • Comment number 3.

    It sounds to me like a cost-cutting exercise. Is this the beginning of the Tories' teacher-bashing campaign?

  • Comment number 4.

    Finally! I wish I had a pound for every parent who has proudly told me that their little johnny has aspergers, or attention deficit disorder, or is dyslexic etc. etc. It's a like a badge to some people.

    Of course there are genuine cases of all these afflications and they suffer all the more because of these spurious claims.

    In reality a lot who use the "special needs" card are attention grabbing parents, with children who are either badly behaved, stupid or the result of extremely poor parenting (or all three!).

  • Comment number 5.

    If disciplinary powers in the classroom were a lot stronger, then we wouldn't need all the politically-correct labels we seem to pin on any "problem" child we encounter. Strict discipline (as we had at our Grammar School) ensured that learning was conducted in a correctly controlled environment. This allowed the teaching staff to identify those who had problems, as they were totally unable to conform to school norms. As a result, there were very few children identified with Special Needs, because children were not allowed to run riot, as they do today (accruing all the "labels" they can).
    Children with SENs need support, but we are going the totally wrong way about identifying them.

  • Comment number 6.

    1 in 5 school children are now classed as having some level of 'special needs'. If this were true why is that figure increasing? Is it something in the environment or our diet?

    I don't believe that 20% of the population have special needs. It is ridiculous. This would hold more danger for our population in the future than climate change.

    Children are too easily being labelled or diagnosed with trendy conditions.
    I expect it is to keep those children who don't achieve sufficiently well out of the league table results.

  • Comment number 7.

    When you design a system that rewards schools with more money for labelling children under certain criteria, what do you expect? Unfortunately there are limited options for alternative ways to distribute the funding. If you give the funding to the school as a block and require them to have certain services available for support, these kids will end up not being given the support that they require, or the support services will be diluted to cover all kids. So, the only option is to monitor the funding that is paid for SEN and ensure that the increased funding is actually providing additional resources to these specific children. Should this report, therefore, be about the failure of the overseers to ensure that the resources are being applied properly?

  • Comment number 8.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 9.

    My son was diagnosed back in June as being autistic and he also has speech problems. We have been informed that it is highly unlikely he will get a statement as he is a high achiever. While I do understand that not all children with learning difficulties need one, my main concern is that the support he currently gets through his school and his speech therapist could be removed suddenly without this statement. Children shouldn't be considered SEN unless there is medical evidence to back it up. We certainly didn't get any of the support we have now for our son until he had been diagnosed and I do worry that if we were move and therefore my son have to change schools, that he will no longer get the support. But with a statement, I wouldn't need to worry. The support needs to be put place permanantly for all children who need it but only after a diagnosis or medical assessment has taken place.

  • Comment number 10.

    Hmmm... disability payments anyone? What is it now, £18-60 per week depending on severity? Some people wouldn't hesitate to get their children labelled as 'disabled' as long as it gave them another income. Then substitute the payments for "MOTABILITY!" and a brand new Renault Scenic on the drive. The school would have to deal with the disability afterwards, but what would that matter?

  • Comment number 11.

    My great nephew was diagnosed with ADHD at an early age. It turned out he had bad eyesight and couldn't see what was written on the board & therefore misbehaved. Since wearing glasses (& being separated from other kids who DID have ADHD & Aspergers) he has improved no end.

    Bring back school nurses & half these spurious classifications would disappear.

  • Comment number 12.

    Obviously there are kids out there who need extra help, and this report shouldn't be used as part of any move to deny assistance to those who need it, or cut funding for such services.

    But at the same time, there has been an enormous rise in recent years in the number of parents claiming their children have ADHD or various other problems, when in fact they're just plain naughty and haven't been brought up to understand the meaning of the words "no, you can't". The problem in many cases isn't the children, it's their parents!

  • Comment number 13.

    4. At 12:30pm on 14 Sep 2010, luskentyre wrote:
    Finally! I wish I had a pound for every parent who has proudly told me that their little johnny has aspergers, or attention deficit disorder, or is dyslexic etc. etc. It's a like a badge to some people.

    Of course there are genuine cases of all these afflications and they suffer all the more because of these spurious claims.

    In reality a lot who use the "special needs" card are attention grabbing parents, with children who are either badly behaved, stupid or the result of extremely poor parenting (or all three!).
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Never a truer word spoken.



  • Comment number 14.

    Whilst I accept SEN status should be applied to certain children, I think that too frequently it is applied to normal kids. I have this feeling that somewhere there is a statist league table of numbers reported by each school so that it appears teachers are doing their jobs properly, which improves the availability of extra funding.

  • Comment number 15.

    "Dont they have Child care experts who know This? or have they allready lost they jobs due to Government Con/ libdems cuts. How can a teacher in a class of 30+ young people, give the extra time needed to slower children???? Who need one to one teaching to catch up {No Funds in the system for this }????? Sounds like we wont pay anyone else to do the job to me.

  • Comment number 16.

    Surly this can't come as a suprise to the vast majority.
    We have gone from a having a system that defined Children as Bright or Thick I.E Grammer/ Sec modern ( flippant I know).
    To a system of Bright or requiring special needs (Yes they need help with their Education).
    Perhaps if the education system was more able to cope with diversity in childrens Education this wouldn't exist. Problem is every body knows best and eductionalist are generally ignored. Except Chris Woodhead who should have been shot for the damage is politically motivated ideas did.

  • Comment number 17.

    So this means that there will be no more special schooling for children unless you can afford to pay for it.Yet another weasel way of cutting back on an education for all.

  • Comment number 18.

    The current system was set up in the 1981 Education Act following the Warnock Report, but weakened later. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200506/cmselect/cmeduski/478/47805.htm

    There would be 5 stages from 'Teacher Concern' right through to 'Statementing.' It was clearly stated then that 20% of children will have special needs some time in their lives. At any one time 20% of children will have special needs. Now OFSTED is complaining about the figure. Just look at the normal bell curve of a graph showing the IQ of the population and you will see that a good percentage will need extra support just to achieve basic skills. That's even without physical disabilities.

    I just think that it is an amazing coincidence that OFSTED is saying their are less special needs kids needing extra support when the government is looking to save money.

    What is true, is that sometimes children are put in a special needs category when they shouldn't be, but this is not necessarily school's fault. A particularly pushy parent in my wife's school threatened the LA with court action if their child wasn't given a statement of special educational need. The LA caved in and the school had to provide extra support without extra funding even though the school said the child had no special needs. It can also work the other way. Sometimes teachers miss learning needs and blame it on behaviour or parents refuse to cooperate with the idea of their children having special needs because of the stigma. Either way, it is not true that schools get extra funding because they have children in special needs. They only get extra funding when the school and outside agencies have given them a legally binding statement saying they need funded extra support.

    So, if the system needs overhauling it needs to revert to the 1981 model where children were protected from the whims of parents and from underfunding by a statement of educational needs independently arrived at by educational psychologists. One weakness of the 1981 Act was that it didn't take into account that ed psychs were in short supply and had too much pressure applied to the by LAs trying to save money. Ed psychs were and are actually encouraged not to statement children!!

    The government is touting an education green paper which it says will focus on giving parents choice. Choice won't solve anything. Education is not some market driven business. What parents want is good and properly funded schools everywhere where teachers and support agencies have the expertise and resources to recognise children with special needs and special talents. This government and OFSTED are headed in the wrong direction. Now there is an empire-building quango to get rid of!

  • Comment number 19.

    I don't fully understand the way the school system works yet as my daughter is only just three, but if up to 20% of children are being labelled 'special needs' then something is clearly wrong.

    Is it that some teachers, hamstrung by the rules regarding discipline, feel that this is an appropriate way of getting a 'difficult' child moved to another class?

    Is it that too many children with mild and perhaps temporary difficulties are being permanently labelled as something more serious than is necessary?

    When I was a child in the 1970s, I attended a school with special needs classes (quite progressive at the time) - we were a feeder school for the local residential home for mentally disabled children. But the vast majority of the children in those classes were profoundly affected by disorders such as autism, Down's syndrome, MD, dyspraxia, and other serious impediments to communication and independence. Only one class (of about 12 students out of a school total of 400) comprised children whose learning and behavioural difficulties were milder, and less obvious at first glance.

    In my 'ordinary' class, there was a fairly big range of ability and desire to learn - there were the inevitable 'trouble-makers' who probably nowadays would be found to have mild learning difficulties, and a few bright sparks, with everything in between.

    What I worry about is that children of average or above average academic ability end up getting neglected because too much attention is being focused on so-called 'special needs' children. My three-year-old is bright - very inquisitive, and already reading and counting - and I am worried that she will be left to fend for herself, and become bored and disinterested in education as a result.

    Don't get me wrong - children who genuinely need extra help should get it in spades - research has shown that such help greatly improves a child's sense of accomplishment, and his or her future prospects. But I don't agree with children at the other end of the scale (or in the middle of it) being left to their own devices as a default strategy for teaching children who are coping well. Every child needs stimulating and motivating things to do, as well as the odd challenge to see what he or she is capable of.

  • Comment number 20.

    Why not? Michael Gove seems to want to change everything! A 3 tier education system is obviously not enough, let's have 4! Is he hoping to make a name for himself or something? He's a household idiot now!

  • Comment number 21.

    The problem with SEN is kids with genuine learning difficulties are lumped in with kids who are just deeply disturbed.

    And its becaie of Blair shutting down all the special schools in the name of 'inclusion'.

    Open the special schools back up and the problem will be resolved for the disturbed kids themselves, for kids who get lumped in with them and for the rest of the kids at that school.

  • Comment number 22.

    We live in an age where everything has to have a PC Label and there is an Excuse for everyone who doesn't quite fit the norm.

    So I don't doubt what is being said here.

  • Comment number 23.

    Having worked in a large secondary school.I have seen SEN work effectively with those that genuinely needed it.It undoubtedly is a system that's needed.
    However a few students that received help were just plain cheeky and naughty, These students were often amongst the most intelligent pupils.
    They simply refused to work, they were labelled with ADHD but were more than capable of achieving the standards required. In many cases i feel it was easier for the teachers to label the students as having ADHD than coping effectively with there unruly behaviour!.
    One student in particular stands out as a classic case of this, his father is a surgeon his mother a lawyer.He received 15 hours extra tuition outside school hours and despite undivided attention during school hours he refused to participate in lessons for a time.
    Then came year 11, at that point he realised the effect failing his GCSE'S would have on his life.He studied harder for that year and he left with straight A's, he is now at Oxford University studying towards a law degree.
    I am not suggesting that ADHD is a fabricated condition but some people are being labelled incorrectly due to schools lax attitudes towards unruly students.

  • Comment number 24.

    Impressive the way that the NUT have no bad teachers and it's all down to excuses for cuts!

    As someone who has had three children go through the system I can make three observations:-
    1) There are more bad teachers than good ones
    2) Schools are only interested in results for the benefit of the school.
    3) Whatever schools and teachers claim, children getless supervison time now than they used to.

  • Comment number 25.

    Diagnosing Autism or Asperghers Syndrome is not a science and if teachers do not care or cater for special needs children they will struggle in school educationally and socially and will be spat out by society when adults.

  • Comment number 26.

    Well it was only a matter of time wasn't it?

    The elderly, ill, disabled - they don't earn anything, pay taxes - cut what you can!

    There are no doubt kids who are given extra help when they don't need it, but I believe this is likely to make it even more difficult for those who do need that help, (like incapacity benefit cuts).

    Avoid the necessary help in the early years and such people will only need extra help in later life.

    I wrote to my MP to 'plead' for financial help for such as my autistic son. He wrote a pat on the head, go away letter, referring to autism as a 'mental illness', which it is not, (depression is), and that the NHS was already financed.

    The NHS cannot help. It is education and support these people need, but AFAS this govt thinks, they don't matter and can be left on the scrap heap. Thank heavens my son is 17yo now.

  • Comment number 27.

    It's hard to distinguish between those who have 'special needs' and those who are just 'idiots'. They all seem pretty coherent on what their 'rights' are though!

    Perhaps a better question would be: Has political (read: liberal) interference of the educational system produced any worthwhile results?

  • Comment number 28.

    Reinforces the suspicion that the standard and quality of teaching is deteriorating or has deteriorated over the last government's tenure in office when results were the all important criteria and were obtained by " dumbing down " to a level of achievement which was easier to attain.There will always be some slow learners, lazy, "plain thick", or unsupported by parents and there will always be some poor teachers, but it seems that now both categories are on the increase. Those children who need help must be identified and helped, but at the same time, teachers who are incompetent must be removed from the profession before the damage becomes irreparable and every slow child is labelled as having one of the fashionable ills that reduce their academic progress.

  • Comment number 29.

    Sounds like another target for swinging cuts. Politicians will use SENs to support their theory that only drastic cuts will improve the situation, teachers will use SENs to protect their league table standings and parents will use SENs to prove that little Johnny isn`t thick but misunderstood. I suspect that all three are culpable to a greater or lesser degree.

  • Comment number 30.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 31.

    On average throughout the country, there is AT LEAST one child in each class needing specialist one to one support for at least part of each school day to help them learn. Most are not so bad that they need to be 'Statemented' but, Statemented or not, if they are to leave school at 16 with at least basic 3xRs skills to enable them to survive, they will need this specialist individual help.

    The earlier that any learning problems are picked up, the easier it is to help the child. Problems could include Dyslexia and Dyspraxia or the child could just be a late developer or it could be below average intelligence. Ideally, the problems should be identified with a learning plan in force by the time that the child is halfway into the Reception Year and certainly by the end of Year 1 of the Infant Years.

    The new head at our local primary school has retired the skilled Specialist Needs teacher as a cost saving measure which means that there will now be no way that problems with children can be properly and correctly identified and dealt with. It is the children's education and future at stake here. The education of ALL children is important not just the intelligent elite.

    Our prisons are full of illiterates but it seems that illiteracy is about to increase in this country! Will this cost saving measure have a longer term impact on the costs of running our prisons?

  • Comment number 32.

    Special Educational Needs or SENs have helped enormously. Why?

    Class sizes, of all age groups are still too large in certain areas and potential cuts to come will not improve that either - in spite of the LIBDEM 'promise' to cut class sizes during election. But, we do have a Conservative majority.

    SENs, it can't be denied, have enabled schools to remove very distruptive pupils to receive specialised, focused and crucial educational opportunities for that group too. There is no problem in that the identification of pupils with SENs will always benefit the child and is part of a long process of assessment?

    Mainstream State schooling has never, ever suited every child - nor can it be. If the current Coalition is genuinely serious about improving education they must allow SENs to continue, not just for those pupils in need of SEN, but also for those who don't?

    There should be no stigma to an SEN - in fact it is proven to help boys who may be very bright, but as a percentage, are more likely to experience reading difficulties that hold them back?

    So for those reasons alone, SENs must be retained.

  • Comment number 33.

    13. At 12:45pm on 14 Sep 2010, Phillip of England wrote:
    4. At 12:30pm on 14 Sep 2010, luskentyre wrote:


    In reality a lot who use the "special needs" card are attention grabbing parents, with children who are either badly behaved, stupid or the result of extremely poor parenting (or all three!).
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    Hear, hear, couldn't agree with you more. When I was at school the badly kids were exactly that badly behaved and more often than not from the households where discipline was not instilled. What has changed is the culture of I/we are not to blame, there must be an underlying reason or a tag to attach to this problem, not that those kids had been dragged up.

    It is exactly the same style of excusing bad behaviour used often within the crimina justice system...oh they can't help being a burglar, heroin addict, yob (delete as approapriate) they are from a under-priveleged back ground. Oh boo-bloody-hoo....

  • Comment number 34.

    Much of the reason that teachers want children given SEN status is due to the policy of "inclusion". Most class teachers simply cannot effectively teach a mixed-bag of pupils who may have difficulties which result in their needing either one-to-one assistance or specially-adapted learning programmes. Twenty years ago there were more special schools. Many parents think nowadays, often misguidedly, that their child would benefit from being in a main-stream school.The only way teachers can incorporate some pupils is by having support from additional adults. However, many of the recommendations for the teaching of these SEN pupils are often unworkable within the context of a main-stream classroom where there will probably be thirty pupils.

  • Comment number 35.

    Looks as if the coalition have instructed the BBC to let loose its HYS supporters of cuts in welfare to have a go at cutting resourses for children with special needs. I am sure that HYS will respond with some of the heartless comments that have been finding their way into the discussions of late. Come on Clegg and Cameron, you are boldly going where Thatcher never dared to go.

  • Comment number 36.

    My daughter was statemented in 1998 due to her having verbal dyspraxia and severe learning difficulties.In 2004 this was withdrawn by the local education authority just a year before she started the cmmprehensive school. Fortunately the SENCO there was still very keen to help her.
    Though when we moved and she went to another secondary school they didn't deem it necessary to continue as the thought she could manage.
    As well as the school losing an A4 file with all her health assesments, statements and additional help she had received in the previous school years and myself telling the school at every pastoral review twice a year with her form tutor and every parents evening with all her teachers it still fell on deaf ears.
    It was only September last year for the start of her last year in school that they decided that some assistance was required. Which mounted to one hour a week. Too little too late. My daughter only just scraped through her GCSE's
    I feel the whole system let her down from the time her we moved. And that the tiny amount of help she received in the last year was to help reach the schools exam targets.
    Maybe she should have smashed the school up and disrupted her class mates to get the attention she rightly deserved.Instead she sat quietly and tried to get on with her work without asking for help.

  • Comment number 37.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 38.

    Interesting how many here immediately think this is to disguise cuts, and never think that there's anything odd in labelling 1 in 5 children as having special educational needs.

    The question surely is why everyone thought that was reasonable up to now.

  • Comment number 39.

    What percentage of the 20% with Special Educational Needs are the teachers themselves?

  • Comment number 40.

    1. We need more male teachers.

    2. Teachers need to be able to impose punishments that encourage unruly pupils to behave, whatever these punishments may be.

    3. Parents should be responsible for the behaviour of their children.

    4. Unruly pupils should be kept away from pupils who want to learn. They should not be allowed to disrupt or hold back others. If this means having a "special" class for unruly pupils which falls behind, then so be it. Resources should be allocated to the pupils who want to learn, and not wasted on pupils who do not behave in class. Of course pupils in the "special" class should have the opportunity to prove that they are ready to join the normal class again.

  • Comment number 41.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 42.

    The WHOLE point of the "special needs" system is that pupils who need the level of attention they need/require, actually GET IT, without detrimental and damaging interference to the MAJORITY of other pupils education via teachers attention and time being diverted to either increased one on one with 1 or a minority of pupils, or dealing with disruptions which a high percentage is caused by a large number of disruptive "special needs" children.

    The current "special needs " system is FACTUALLY designed to PROVIDE better support for those who attend these facilitys.

    This sounds more like an excuse to save money and chuck away these important and ESSENTIAL education facilitysto save money and then impose disruptive children and high needs children on the general population of schools, which HISTORY has FACTUALLY proven is DETRIMENTAL to the overal education standards of the MAJORITY of children.

    ESSENTIALLY, this is just further "old boy network" "yes men" of those putting forward policys etc which meet the demands of government.

    Such a cut, or imposition of policy, would just reinforce this ConDems lie of, "looking after the most needy" in society, and further undermine the future of this nation and its economic prospects by damaging present standards of education.

  • Comment number 43.

    24. At 1:00pm on 14 Sep 2010, chris berridge wrote:
    Impressive the way that the NUT have no bad teachers and it's all down to excuses for cuts!

    As someone who has had three children go through the system I can make three observations:-
    1) There are more bad teachers than good ones
    2) Schools are only interested in results for the benefit of the school.
    3) Whatever schools and teachers claim, children getless supervison time now than they used to.

    =================================

    So, why havent you trained to become a teacher and actively improve such a situation as you state to be fact of the matter, if its so important to you.

  • Comment number 44.

    This doesn't come as any surprise. 'Special needs' has all too often simply replaced 'disruptive'

  • Comment number 45.

    There was a time when parents said their kids were "special" because they were talented in music, art or had an interest in some other field; and the parents & education system valued and it and encouraged it.

    Now it means the kids are uncontrollable due to the parents general lack of interest. And the education system is nothing more than a joke, with over-stretched resources and over-stressed teachers.


    How sad and worthless this little nation has become.

  • Comment number 46.

    Education needs an overhaul not just SEN - the number of children we have leaving school without the ability to read and write is disgusting in a supposedly modern country. We are fast deteriorating into what sounds like a third world country. English is a lovely language but not as taught nowadays - especially spelling. Text speke is becoming accepted and does nothing to help nor does the filthy language which is heard everywhere one goes. The old system of the 11 and 13+ with the open opportunities to go on to take more exams at college or study trades at technical colleges has never been bettered and all my friends who went through that system have done very well either in business or going into a profession and I don't mean from grammar school. Working hard and not getting into massive debt through socialising prepare people for life in a much better way. Of course there are special needs children some of whom would suffer terribly from attending an ordinary school. Parents can give children a good start by teaching them to read and write before they go to school + many problems can be caught early and attended to if this is done but some specially trained special needs will always be needed. Don't be too keen to label people as is done with those who have any nervous problem.

  • Comment number 47.

    Many of the so called SEN kids do not have a medical condition, but simply no boundaries, resulting in erratic behaviour. A lable can excuse either lack of ability (particularly for middle class parents) or lack of discipline. It is also worth noting that, in some cases, a statemented child results in 'gateway benefits' being accessed, so in addition to carers' allowance a whole range of benefits become available. Sadly the proliferation of diagnosis of autistic specrum disoder, dyslexia etc results in resources not being focused on those who really need the help

  • Comment number 48.

    Is this a joke?

    No, it is NOT easy to label a child.

    It is a long, heartbreaking medical process as you gradually find out that your child is not quite the same as everyone else's.

    So when I read comments like this, I get very very punchy. I am completely incensed by this piece of offal from Ofsted, but then what do anyone expect? Ofsted should be disassembled and the incompetents who work for it, pensioned off. Pass the job to local authorities where it should belong.

    Aside from the lifetime worry that you have that your child will not be self sufficient enough when you die, you worry about his friendships, bullying, is he getting the help he needs, is the teacher capable to teaching him, the transition to secondary school, the annual changes in routine, the dreaded phone call from the school; you worry about everything.

    Your home life is fragmented. You can't go out unless you plan properly, no-one will babysit, you worry about the effect it has on your other children, you worry about him hitting out, you get embarrassed when he explodes in public.

    And just when you feel that you can't take any more, you have to endure the bureaucratic process of trying to get your son's statutory right to an education.

    I am fortunate. I am bright enough to know how the system works AND live in a county council that is regarded as one of the best. I got my son a statement, but I have seen other parents who are not so lucky.

    I really really wish that some of these petty penpushing boxtickers could be made to look after a lad with autism or ADHT, or a girl with dyspraxia or low muscle tone or one or other of the disabilities that they are so happy to dismiss as not being grounds for a statement. Our lives are very hard and people like them make it harder.

    Surely as a modern western democracy, we should be ENSURING that all children receive a full education, not trying to shoehorn kids into ineffective options, simply because they are cheaper?

    And to cap it all, we are faced with the lie that their decision is based on medical and educational grounds. Absolute nonsense. It is down to money and we all know it. My son costs more to educate than most other children.

    Like it is his fault he has autism.

    How do we know?

    Easy.
    Appeal the decision to not award a statement and the decision is then made by someone who does not consider cost as the first criteria.

    I am furious. Utterly livid with this scurrilous and spineless paper. Clearly the most cost effective way to fund the SEN provision is to scrap Ofsted now.

  • Comment number 49.

    A lot has been said about children with special needs, and the funding that schools do/do not get to support these children.

    My child is extremely bright - he is currently just at the start of primary school year 5 and is already testing with an ability above that expected at the end of year 6. He is on the schools 'gifted and talanted' (GAT) register, and therefore one of the children that the school has an obligation to support in the same way as statemented children.

    The main difference here is that the school gets absolutely NO additional funding and teachers are expected to push the children on the GAT register, as well as support and teach the standard ability and SEN children, all in the same class! Thankfully, my child goes to an excellent school with excellent teachers.

  • Comment number 50.

    19. At 12:52pm on 14 Sep 2010, Val wrote:
    I don't fully understand the way the school system works yet as my daughter is only just three, but if up to 20% of children are being labelled 'special needs' then something is clearly wrong.

    =========================================

    Maybe if you understood the relevence of facts/figures/statistics of that which detrimentally effects the learning capacity and behaviours of many children.

    Examples:-

    women who drink alcohol, above moderate or healthy levels while pregnant resulting in inhibiting growth and formation of the unborn childs brain, resulting in "special needs"

    Pregnant drug users.

    Living in a family with attrocious parenting skills or life skills or without any decent and basic skills.

    Being an abused child, sexual abuse, violent physical abuse, mental abuse, of which numbers are horrendous.

    Wake up to the truth of existance of our society and the conditions/circumstances of which people are born into this world and experience.

    Apparantly, UK is far far better than many nations in many respects, but its ugliness is still fully apparant, if you just look for it.

  • Comment number 51.

    So, classes of 30 or 30+ are preventing teachers spending individual time with slower children, and causing them to designate children as special needs. That is appalling behaviour by those teachers, and thier seniors who allow it to happen. When I was at school, in the seventies, we had over 2000 children in our school, and only 1 remedial class with about 20 children.......... Does this mean that the authorities, and teachers themselves, have gradually dumbed down the whole schools system? Or can it be true that everyone was cleverer in the seventies? Which ?

  • Comment number 52.

    There is no story here, this is just Ofsted truing to justify their existence while quangos around them are being axed.

    All children are different so teachers treat each of them sightly differently. At some point this is worth sharing with colleagues and explaining to parents. The process to do this is the SEN register. It makes no whit of difference if schools handle this differently.

  • Comment number 53.

    In Orwell's '1984' they invented a war to ensure that people were receptive to any changes that Big Brother decided were necessary. 'Victories' that could be celebrated, and hardships had to be tolerated because 'there's a war on,. The 'Worldwide Recession' seems like a similar device. Keep telling people that there's no money and you can keep them over a barrel, raising prices and slashing services to keep them poor whilst the political and financial elite cream off all the money for themselves, and the people work themselves into the grave.

    Special Needs? Too expensive, comrade. Pensions? Sorry, comrade, there's no money left. You want proof? Here's a set of figures that you won't understand and can't trust even if you did. We can all squabble amongst ourselves about the minutae until we drop dead, but it's all just keeping us distracted whilst our money is spirited away and we get less and less in return.

  • Comment number 54.

    41. At 1:27pm on 14 Sep 2010, DoleBoy wrote:
    Tories just love bullying.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    Grow up! Is your logon just a moniker or a description of your life sucking funds out of the public purse?

  • Comment number 55.

    So the tories are at it again, this time they are attacking the teachers as well as the most vulnerable in society. No doubt they will respond by saying we are in a recession.

    The tories are well and truly nasty.

  • Comment number 56.

    This is quite interesting.

    It seems we've been paying for 'treatment' and a bureaucracy for nothing, then. Have Ofsted only just found out about the problem? Or were they aware, and happy to play along under Labour?

    I'm getting sick of the BBC featuring as news calls for there to be no cuts.

    The BBC wants to give the impression that any cut is harmful, when it is clear that some are, but many are more than justified.

    Waste is rife in the public sector and welfare state, and the BBC should really be publicising that.

    Anyway, I suspect most of the so-called SEN children would, in my day, have been diagnosed as being 'thick' or 'lazy'.

  • Comment number 57.

    10. At 12:39pm on 14 Sep 2010, goldblagger wrote:
    Hmmm... disability payments anyone? What is it now, £18-60 per week depending on severity? Some people wouldn't hesitate to get their children labelled as 'disabled' as long as it gave them another income. Then substitute the payments for "MOTABILITY!" and a brand new Renault Scenic on the drive. The school would have to deal with the disability afterwards, but what would that matter?


    We get nothing from the state for my son's medically diagnosed autism. Your comment is frighteningly ignorant, offensive and plain nasty. Sadly, people like you frequently get jobs in the SEN decision making process.

    I would get moderated for saying much more about what I think about you and your vile opinion. Suffice to say that I pray that you never have to experience autism in your family.

  • Comment number 58.

    The WHOLE point of the "special needs" system is that pupils who need the level of attention they need/require, actually GET IT, without detrimental and damaging interference to the MAJORITY of other pupils education via teachers attention and time being diverted to either increased one on one with 1 or a minority of pupils, or dealing with disruptions which a high percentage is caused by a large number of disruptive "special needs" children.

    The current "special needs " system is FACTUALLY designed to PROVIDE better support for those who attend these facilitys.

    This sounds more like an excuse to save money and chuck away these important and ESSENTIAL education facilitysto save money and then impose disruptive children and high needs children on the general population of schools, which HISTORY has FACTUALLY proven is DETRIMENTAL to the overal education standards of the MAJORITY of children.

    ESSENTIALLY, this is just further "old boy network" "yes men" of those putting forward policys etc which meet the demands of government.

    Such a cut, or imposition of policy, would just reinforce this ConDems lie of, "looking after the most needy" in society, and further undermine the future of this nation and its economic prospects by damaging present standards of education.

    _______________________________________________________________________
    I'm afraid it is not, most children with statements are educated within mainstream schools, they do not attend special facilities as they once did.

  • Comment number 59.

    47. At 1:33pm on 14 Sep 2010, totally_bill_hicks wrote:
    Many of the so called SEN kids do not have a medical condition, but simply no boundaries, resulting in erratic behaviour. A lable can excuse either lack of ability (particularly for middle class parents) or lack of discipline. It is also worth noting that, in some cases, a statemented child results in 'gateway benefits' being accessed, so in addition to carers' allowance a whole range of benefits become available. Sadly the proliferation of diagnosis of autistic specrum disoder, dyslexia etc results in resources not being focused on those who really need the help


    Another putrid and ignorant comment from someone who knows nothing about SEN.

  • Comment number 60.

    As the mother of a child with autism and ADHD I have been very happy with the support my son has had in his mainstream school. The school is a Catholic one so may have access to extra funding which schools on the whole do not have. My son is just going through the Statutory Assessment process which may lead to Statementing (I hope) and will enshrine his needs for educational support in a legal document. This has been hard fought and was only agreed this summer after a paediatrician diagnosed autism in my son. I had applied previously and been turned down and yet with that magic diagnosis they are now falling over themselves to get this through. This is the same child who has required extensive support for the past three years.
    My concerns are that with this "overhaul" we will lose teaching assistants and supporters who help children like my son access the curriculum. A class teacher (and my son's teachers have all been fabulous) with a class of 30 will struggle to give individual teaching - especially with the proposed 25% cut to the education budget. As someone who works for the public sector I am not convinced that these cuts will not enter the frontline - they will.
    I realise that in some cases children with poor parenting may exhibit problems which mimic ADHD or other problems, however, there ARE children with poor parenting who also actually have ADHD - labelling the problem "poor parenting" will not help these children. In my son's case I am told that good parenting (preens self) has minimised the problems he might have had and that he is easy to work with.
    I have concerns and am not convinced by this report - to me it seems a way of preparing the public (and parents of children with disabilities) for yet more depletion of services in schools.

  • Comment number 61.

    "What changes, if any, would you make to the system?" - (HYS):

    Exactly the changes suggested by Ofsted - and MORE...

    In my opinion - from my observations and experience over recent years:
    -------------

    TOO MANY - not all - of those Children labelled as 'special needs' are simply inadequately prepared for School from the day they start attending. In these cases, the Children have been given practically NO 'pre-School' training by their Parents. SOME have received very little or NO parental-guidance of any kind - apart from being dumped in front of a TV all day and left to get on with it...

    TOO MANY Parents are failing their Children in this way - leading to the fallacy by Schools later, that these Children are not as 'bright' or 'Socially adequate' as most other Children - so they must have 'SPECIAL NEEDS'...
    It's far easier for SOME people to put ALL the teaching requirements of their Child onto Schools - rather than bother about their lack of care & responsibility to their own Child.

    I think Parents with 'problem-Children' should be regularly assessed for their competence in raising Children - BEFORE those Children become classed as 'SPECIAL-NEEDS' and suffer within Society due to such Parental-incompetence.

    Perhaps we'd be wiser to class these PARENTS as 'SPECIAL NEEDS' rather then the misguided Children in many cases...?

  • Comment number 62.

    As the mother of a child diagnosed as SEN I can not fault the school, but what I can fault is my local council who think that with all the day to day problems he has with his dyspraxia and verbal dyspraxia, he will be perfectly fine in a normal chaotic secondary school, and much as I would love to agree with them I know that the ammount of homework that he will recieve, and the moving from class to class without getting lost is just a step too far for him. And I can assure you if my son was badly behaved he would get a statement no problem but because he doesn't throw chairs or bad mouth his teachers he is off the statementing list.
    As for the cut backs in statementing I know that my local council is cutting back on this. So surely the only people that suffer in the long run is the kids that get penalised because of cutbacks.

  • Comment number 63.

    um sigh .. Firstly I am dyslexic.. apart from reading and writing ,and therefore the abilities to Fully express my thoughts in writing . I don't have a disadvantage in learning nor comprehending events or ideas .

    unfortunately Most learning is provided via the medium of written material.

    That is a severe disadvantage to most who are dyslexic.
    If the medium of learning was altered then most dyslexics would not only flourish BUT would tend rise to the top of the classes.

    The problem is that education is entrenched in the way pupils are taught and the way teachers are trained. It is that system that needs to be altered .

  • Comment number 64.

    Having worked these last 6 years as an SEN teacher (4 Years) and a mainstream teacher (2 years) I would say this is yet another symptom of the utter mess our educational system is in.

    Its due in a large part to the 'drive to improve standards' and actually the people to blame here are Ofsted.

    Thanks to Ofsted, a teacher now has to write a lesson plan of such amazing detail and to create different resources for every single child in the lesson. You have to do a seating plan, you have to identify the SEN's and the Gifted and Talented.

    You MUST do a 3 part lesson (Starter, Main Activity and Plenary) and no matter how creatively you approach the problem, the criteria for assessing a lesson according to Ofsted standards has been designed in such a way as to utterly demoralise the teacher as well as bore the kids to death.

    The end result is a plastic, sterile lesson that the kids hate and that causes them to sod about. Furthermore, its also so 'academic' that a lot of kids don't get it - hence its easier to cover their failings (engineered by Ofsted), by labelling them as SEN.

    The worst of it is, is that thanks again to Ofsted, kids who do have special needs don't get the help they need. I worked with more SEN kids in the two years in mainstream than in the four years in SEN. There is simply not the time to give them the help they need and in any case, relying on a mum's army of term time parents earning pin money is not the right way to go about things.

    We need a wholesale change in the way we teach kids. We need to cut class sizes to 15 max. There should be a teacher and assistant in every class. There needs to be a whole lot less structure to lessons and greater use of IT and the learning needs to be relevant.

    I honestly believe that you can teach special needs out of pupils, but to do that takes money - and when was that ever available in education?

  • Comment number 65.

    are to many labelled as SEN - yes for sure. Do some pupils need extra help, if even only for a little while - also yes. Are they abl;e to get that help without being lableed SEN - no. Therefore not too many pupils are labelled SEN.
    The need to label pupils is this communist sytem of comprehensive schools and telling everyone they are the same, even if they are clearly not. Bright pupils become disruptive, others fail completely. Everyone, if they want to or not, has to be included. Why? What was wrong with grammar schools and a 3-tier school-system? Why do pupils of all abilities have to be taught together in one room? It is good for no one apart from the couple of perfectly average children. Everyone else is failed by the system.

  • Comment number 66.

    I am glad the SEN system is being looked at. We struggled to get a statement for our daughter who has moderate learning difficulties and hearing loss. Without legal representation (expensive) the statementing process and appeals system are very difficult. My daughter attended a really wonderful Special School up to age 16; however post-16 provision has been hard to put together. It would be great if the whole post-16 and adult provision of learning, development and possibly employment for people with learning difficulties, could be better organised. Too often it seems to be the system which determines what your special needs person will be offered, rather than any real account being taken of the needs and abilities of the individual. SEN should not be applied to children with temporary or relatively minor difficulties which can be resolved by intensive tutoring or appropriate behaviour management methods. If all teacher training included SEN in depth there would be more expertise in our schools.

  • Comment number 67.

    An entire section of society appears to have been forgotten here...what about the 1 in 5 who DO want to study, who CAN study and are being dragged down by the UK government's continuing social experimentation. What about Johnny or Katy who spend hours each week doing their homework and want to feel they've achieved something only to have a spoilt, badly behaved, over-indulged brat sitting next to them at school distracting the teacher. Streaming? worked in my day. Mind you I suppose the answer like most things in life these days is you get what you pay for and anything the systems provides free is appallingly second rate...now about the uniform at Eaton...

  • Comment number 68.

    My daughter currently year 3 in primary, was put on on IEP in year 1, I felt this was down to the fact that during that school year due to teacher illness, she had 4-5 different teachers. However when she moved to year 2, this IEP statement seemed to go deeper. They decided she was showing dyslexic tendancies, and was struggling at school. Yet at home we didn't see any massive problems. We made appointments to see the relevent people in school, to no avail.Bearing in mind the year 2 teacher just didn't have a clue what day of the week it was, never mind what was happening in her class! They set targets, some she met, some she didn't. The one that were not met the teacher just said 'she's not managed those so we'll just forget about them.' To I say I was stunned would be an understatement. I have waited until she's started back at school and moved to a new teacher who has explained the system and informed me that the targets my daughter did not meet have now been simplified to make it easier to reach. But to my mind why are they not finding out why she didn't manage them? I have had various meetings with school, and being an ex-parent governor I did raise this through the governing body. The way in which they deal with informing parents at my particular school is terrible, if my child is struggling I would rather them say hey can you come in we need to talk, rather than find a letter a her bookbag telling me my child is now on teh SEN register! Reports from various testing also came back in the book bag, but with no supporting information what so ever. I also have found they do not help themselves at all, I have asked numerous times what can I be doing at home to help my daughter, and I get no information back what so ever. At the end of the day education is a 2 way street and I am unable to help my daughter improve unless the so called professionals help me first. Hopefully now she's moved up to year 3 and having met her new teacher we will now see a definate change in the standard of my daughters teaching.

  • Comment number 69.

    I agree entirely with the observation of "wind-blown", who wrote..."Just look at the normal bell curve of a graph showing the IQ of the population and you will see that a good percentage will need extra support just to achieve basic skills."
    It may be an unpalatable concept for the politically-correct to grasp, but statistically, half the population possess less than the mean intelligence quotient, with about 20% falling below an IQ of 90 - that's one fifth.

  • Comment number 70.

    I was a very naughty boy in school. I was disruptive, aggressive, easily distracted and often quite rude. I spent countless hours standing outside the classroom door or waiting outside the headmaster's office. Once I even got the cane when I was aged 6 (corporal punishment was completely banned soon after) because I'd used some grown up adjectives and verbs in front of Mrs. Pugh.

    I didn't have 'special needs' in the sense posters seem to be talking about. I wasn't slow and didn't have ADHD or whatever they diagnose kids with these days. My family life was stable, and my siblings were far better behaved than I was. Parents punished me when I did bad things, usually grounding me or giving me 'the slipper' for something really naughty. I knew the rules but still did things knowing I would (usually) get punished.

    It wasn't about the attention either.

    The reason I behaved like that in primary school? I was bored. I found most of the work I was given in class quite easy. Homework wasn't much harder and my grades were always excellent. I'd have been much happier sitting in a library reading about Egypt (one of my fascinations at the time) instead of sitting in a class where the teacher was going through the long division algorithm for the eighth time. My behaviour improved when I started being given harder work to do which more fully occupied my time in the classroom.

    Unfortunately I became known as a sort of super-geek overnight and was usually left out of football games in later years, but that's another story.

    It's not always the less capable kids that are disruptive. I'm sure I'm not the only counterexample to that sweeping claim. There are 'special needs' at the other end of the spectrum and it would be wise not to forget that.

  • Comment number 71.

    One by one the consequences of encouraging the underclass to breed without responsibility are coming to light. Multi generational families who have never gone to work, the prisons full of illiterates, drug and alcohol abuse and now large numbers of children who have 'special needs' branded with ADHD or whatever, when if not all then a significant amount are just not being brought up right by parents (or parent) who don't care, and think the world owes them a living; nothing is ever their fault or responsibility. Carry on like this and where will we end up? The people who drain the state of resources breeding more and more, while the people who pay for it are having fewer children, mainly because the burden of taxation they have to pay to fund heavy breeders means they have little choice but to wait. After all that's the responsible thing to do. Maybe the film Idiocracy will be an accurate prediction of the future after all.

  • Comment number 72.

    Reminds me of my Dad talking about WWII as a soldier. "We never 'ad no 'syndromes'.."

  • Comment number 73.

    55. At 1:43pm on 14 Sep 2010, thelevellers wrote:
    So the tories are at it again, this time they are attacking the teachers as well as the most vulnerable in society. No doubt they will respond by saying we are in a recession.

    The tories are well and truly nasty.


    Laughably ill-informed, but we expect nothing less.

    In your eagerness to swipe at the Tories, you have overlooked one thing. The system under your labour was a complete crock as well. Keep your politics out of this one. It is about people.

    Sarah Teather has called this one right. Read what she says (never ever thought I'd agree with a Liberal)

  • Comment number 74.

    This just shows how ineffective our entire system of educational assessment is - despite the fact that children are now tested and examined every five minutes and almost all teaching is aimed at passing exams rather than understanding (let alone enjoying!) the subject. There must be some way of introducng common sense into the system - and at the same time throwing out most of the pointless and very stressful bean-counting and hoop-jumping.

  • Comment number 75.

    >> 41. At 1:27pm on 14 Sep 2010, DoleBoy wrote:
    "Tories just love bullying."


    This report was commissioned by Ed Balls while still in government.



  • Comment number 76.

    So the ConDems want to cut the Education budget by depriving children who have special needs the help they deserve.
    Hell will freeze over before the Tories - and now shamefully the LibDems - fund state education to the appropriate level.
    Looks like we are returning to the pre-1997 funding for our schools. And before anybody asks - Yes, I was a teacher who endured decades of under-funding - particularly in IT - when the Tories were in power.
    Same old Tories.

  • Comment number 77.

    This is yet another devisive issue where the con dems are going to make the chop & severely disadvantage those in genuine need. The worst thing the last tory government did was close down so many special schools & push those with special needs in to the mainstream, it has only disturbed the education of all involved.

    Education is too rigid in it's approach, teaching for tests rather than teaching to properly educate kids. My little brother suffered badly from the lack of imagination in the approach to his education, he found it almost impossible to sit still in a traditional educational situation (partly due to hearing problems which the head of his primary school refused to believe contributed to his behaviour & learning). As a result he became bored & disrupted those around him. Had there been a more innovative approach such as a more hands on approach to learning I'm sure he would have walked away with a GCSE instead of just walking away. Since leaving school he has taught himself to read (partly thanks to The Sun's sports pages).

  • Comment number 78.


    4. At 12:30pm on 14 Sep 2010, luskentyre wrote:
    "In reality a lot who use the "special needs" card are attention grabbing parents, with children who are either badly behaved, stupid or the result of extremely poor parenting (or all three!)."

    IN REPLY:
    ------------
    Totally agree 'luskentyre' - And these kind of 'Parents' are on the increase - Tez...

  • Comment number 79.

    How convenient..I have a very nasty feeling that the ConLibs have had a quiet word in this departments ear...it took my sister and brother-in-law 6 years to get help with my nephew who is dyslixic they also have to pay for extra help outwith school. I find it shocking that all the custs that are being mentioned are for the disadvantaged..

  • Comment number 80.

    When the TUC spoke of Britain becoming more brutish and frightening they weren't wrong were they. Reading this HYS it is quite horrible to see children described as 'thick' and consigned to the dustbin because we cannot afford to help them anymore.

    The SEN system is imperfect but it is far far better than the cruelty that once existed and that so many of you seem to want to go back to. As the Tory cuts bite so more and more you pick on the weak and vulnerable so they may suffer before you do. Shame on you all.

  • Comment number 81.

    I have no doubt that some children are wrongly labelled, but is that surprising, given this is the only way schools can get the additional funding they need to provide extra support? To blame "poor teaching" is very unfair. Even the best teacher in the world will struggle to cope with a difficult child in a class of 30+. If a child who is difficult or struggles gets the extra attention they need from the teacher, the rest of the class suffers. What we need is a better way to provide additional classroom support that can be used where it is needed without having to label children to get it.

  • Comment number 82.

    Post 1 - right on!

    Children who need extra help do have special needs.
    The money for the extra help comes out of a fixed budget for that school.
    It's is not the teachers fault if they cannot give individual attention to one child out of 32. If they want better teaching, try smaller classes. Oh, that's usually called empty places and cuts in teachers or schools.
    I'm surprised no one have blamed the banks collaping on teachers yet, everything else is their fault.

  • Comment number 83.

    It makes me wonder if schools recieve extras funding for special needs students could this be the reason that the figures are so high as it could be being used as a way to get round funding restrictions

  • Comment number 84.

    We just can't win, can we?

    If we push our troubled kids through the door and walk away we are labelled as 'uncaring' (at best) and our kids labelled 'at risk'.

    If we fight the system for help we are labelled as 'difficult' and our kids as 'spoilt brats'.

    If we (Heaven Forbid) Home Educate, we are labelled (both kids and adults) as 'outcasts', 'strange', 'freaks' and of course 'dangerous'.

    I personally have, within the last 18 months, done ALL of the above for short times,reasons being: poor school, no support, imposed rules, desperate, I can confirm that there is no solution.

    As Kelly Green recently wrote "I am the person on this earth who cares most about them, so you have to listen to me. I am their parent. Not you."

  • Comment number 85.

    Isn't it amazing how many people know all about teaching? How it should be done, how many are bad teachers?
    If asked, most would probably admit it is a job they would NEVER do in a million years.
    "he who is without sin...."

  • Comment number 86.

    This is basically semantics:

    1 in 5 school kids most certainly do NOT have any medical diagnosis of any syndrome that would explain their 'special needs' however I can well believe that 1 in 5 kids are just a bit dim and do need extra attention from teaching staff.

    Its not politically correct but kids are not born equal... a few will have the intellect of Stephen Hawking, plenty more will be as thick as two short planks and no amount of social engineering will make a kid with an IQ of 80 a Cambridge graduate. What they can and should be is taught to use what skills they do have to their best of their ability. There are plenty of skilled, well paid jobs out there that do not need rocket science degrees (and speaking from experience plenty of science jobs that pay peanuts!)

  • Comment number 87.

    Depends what you mean by special needs ? most children need help sometime in their academic carrears !! how about setting a special needs programme for mp`s they have no morals , sense of purpose or understanding what the UK citizens want from this mess

  • Comment number 88.

    I've seen lots of self-serving, ill-informed and ironically semi-literate responses from those who believe that SEN is all about 'special kids', who don't deserve 'their' taxes and who they believe are down to bad parents. Sadly the educators often need educating themselves as plenty of LEAs, teachers and administrators also know woefully little (certainly not enough). Reading many of these comments I'm amazed that people with so little knowledge of the subject can have such strong opinions on it!

    Please read #18 - obviously from someone who knows more than most about the background issues. Contrast that with all of the people claiming that 'naughty kids' and 'bad parents' are behind all of this. Basically there are billions of pounds spent worldwide every year on SEN, particularly in the USA. Autism and ADHD DO exist, as do dyslexia, dyspraxia and a host of other clinically recognised conditions. This isn't about 'excuses' made up by any 'PC Brigade', it's studied by some of the world's brightest minds (many of whom also have SEN - just to disprove the 'thick' theory) and pharmaceutical giants.

    2 of my 3 children have SEN, both are among the brightest (in top groups etc). Unfortunately both have differing behavioural problems and social problems, which is why they need extra support. As I know other parents of SEN kids, I have seen that many of the so-called 'bad parents' also clearly have undiagnosed conditions - something that the medical profession knows all too well but the funding isn't there for most adults. Of course if anybody is mis-diagnosed it's going to hurt their chances in the long run. If there's a better way for the medical and education professions to work I'm all for it, as long as it's actually better, not just cheaper. Just think of the social problems caused by not helping some of the children who so many bigoted, self-important know-nowts choose to just label 'problem child' and consign to failure before they've even left school. Treating them properly could lead to reductions in crime, violence and poverty. The alternative is presumably breeding them into Morlocks and the self-important 'interlecktuwyals' above into Eloi. See how well that turned out.

  • Comment number 89.

    Our 4 year old grandson started school last week, at the age of 4. He is considered a gifted child.

    At the age of 2 years, the pre-school identified him as a "Special Needs" child. The reasoning was that his speech development and social skills were below par.

    The school asked for their contracted child psychiatrist to investigate and he declared he was suffering a variety of developmental problems!

    Maw and I were unconvinced, since, although he has a pallet problem, which gives his speech an immature timbre, he is otherwise highly intelligent. His mum was distraught, but we convinced her to seek advice through our extremely good Family Doctor.

    He referred the lad to our NHS Paediatric Unit, which carried out an intensive series of tests. The result of the NHS investigation was that his apparent problems were down to shyness and his oral problem.

    He was, at that stage, declared to be gifted.

    The pre-school supervisor continued to pursue her belief that he was "Special Needs", so I had a quiet word with the Principle, showing her the full NHS report. I am unsure what happened behind the scenes, but both supervisor and child psychiatrist were removed from the school.

    Yesterday, speaking to Con's Teacher, we find that his literacy and numeracy is equal to that expected of an 8 year old. He is still shy with those he does not know, but has a good circle of friends from the pre-school.

    The lesson of our experience is that contracted Paediatric Practices may be guided more by the value of new "patients" rather than the patient's welfare!

  • Comment number 90.

    This has to be something to do with this cost cutting government. If anyone has any connection with a state school then they would know the excellent work that goes in the classrooms with teaching assistants and others supporting children across the board. I think a reality check is needed here. Teaching assistants are paid very little and do a tremendous job in our schools. Our schools are under threat with cuts that will save little but cause huge damage.

  • Comment number 91.


    In reality, the true proportion of children than can genuinely be described as requiring Special Educational Needs is tiny.

    The real reason that the ridiculous figure of 1 in 5 children as needing SEN is because that there are children who are so badly behaved and disruptive that they are literally unteachable.

    This is usually not the fault of the child or the teacher but rather irresponsible parent(s) who couldn't care less about the unwanted human beings that they have personally chosen to bring into existence on an over-populated, resource-drained, environmentally degraded planet. Such parents expect everyone else in society to pay, care for and provide for their personal lifestyle decision and become incredibly vocal when their demands are not met.

    Far easier for the teacher to just say that the child is SEN instead of confronting and explaining to the the so-called parent(s) that they are irresponsible, uncaring and completely selfish.

    The best way to address this problem is to force those people who have made the decision to become parents to actually pay for that decision and cough up the cash for the child's private education.

    Anything else is simply unworkable, immoral and merely encourages the very worst kind of open-ended irresponsibility that no society could ever possibly afford or hope to keep up with.

  • Comment number 92.

    As usual Ofsted yet again fail to do anything constructive. This is the same Ofsted that were hammering schools a few years back for not recognising SEN and now the schools do they are at fault. There perhaps are too many over zealous SEN diagnosis but Ofsted should take some acountability of this. More concerning is Ofsted as the inspecting body of education has yet again shown its true colours as an expensive and poorly run organisation that has one agenda and that is to fail schools. If Ofsted actually offered a more positive stance occasionally schools would be happier to try new things that could improve teaching standards with out fear or reprisal

  • Comment number 93.

    Is it possible that some of the children with 'special needs' are those who speak no English?

  • Comment number 94.

    27. At 1:02pm on 14 Sep 2010, Cronk wrote:
    "It's hard to distinguish between those who have 'special needs' and those who are just 'idiots'."

    Are you talking about school children, or contributors to HYS?
    It comes as no surprise that a bunch of kids simply need "better teaching": I would have thought pretty much everybody would benefit from better teaching. I certainly could have done: most of my teachers were rubbish!

  • Comment number 95.


    "67. At 1:56pm on 14 Sep 2010, TheUrbaneSpelunker wrote:"
    "What about Johnny or Katy who spend hours each week doing their homework and want to feel they've achieved something only to have a spoilt, badly behaved, over-indulged brat sitting next to them at school distracting the teacher."

    IN REPLY:
    ------------
    Well said 'TheUrbaneSpelunker' - Apparently Johnny & Katy don't matter - after all, they just keep their noses to the grindstone and ignore the chaos that our Schools have become in recent years. Hopefully SOMEONE in Government will CIVILISE these Classrooms ONE DAY...???

  • Comment number 96.

    So they've finally admitted that too many children are wrongly diagnosed with ADHD and the like. Tick. But then they've got the temerity to lay the blame at the teacher's door!! 'Poor teaching' is not the problem OFSTED. The problem is poorly disciplined children, which stems from poor parenting at home then spilling over into the classroom, in a majority of cases. I know this having been a teacher, and constantly sharing the grief of many teacher friends. Teachers deserve respect, like they used to have 20 years ago, and it is a sad indictment of our education system and society as a whole that that has been lost somewhere along the line over that time. For OFSTED to make a comment like this is totally beyond belief, as well as being totally inaccurate and an insult to teachers, who have a thankless task anyway. If they're supposed to be there to support teachers and encourage new entrants into the profession, they're going far from the right way about it. Quite incredible.

  • Comment number 97.

    Ofsted say that the problem lies with the schools. Not so. It is the professional Educational Psychologist team within each LEA which carries out the assessment and recommends to the LEA whether or not a child should be statemented. Yes, where teaching professionals identify a child with a specific learning difficulty they request that that child be assessed, but they do not conduct the formal decision making process. A teacher would be failing in his/her duty to the child if this was not done.

  • Comment number 98.

    The SEN is a microcosm of the bigger problem in education which has been known for some time and highlighted by Woodward some years ago, the poor standard of teaching by far too many in the education system. The union protects employees who incompetent and not fit for their position. There has been considerable 'head in the sand' and 'pushing under the carpet' on this matter (as well as some considerable vitriol from the loony left). How long do WE have to put up with this? Generations pass with substandard education which, even if the books are being cooked to make it look like standards are rising, we know (by talking to pupils, etc) that they are falling (ie poorly educated children). I for one want action and removal of incompetent teachers and a proverbial kick up the backside to the education system.

  • Comment number 99.

    When the last goverment came to power they set out to impose a restrictive teaching regime. After introducing the Literacy and Numeracy hours they removed the word 'average' and replaced it with the term 'the expected standard'. They said any child not attaining the expected standard has 'special needs'. They then instructed schools to identify 20% of children in the school as special needs and include them on the special needs register. (Within any cohort there are 60% average, 20% above average and 20% below average, which is probably where that figure came from.)This has now become entrenched in school culture but it means that children working just below the average are LABELLED as special needs.
    In 2005 they turned their attention to the other end of the scale and instructed schools to have a 'Gifted and Talented' register that was to include 20% of the children in the school.
    I am most interested to know what proportion of the special needs children are boys because the teaching style imposed was sedentary and unexciting which boys found hard to cope with. I believe that the way we had to teach is responsible for much indiscipline in the classroom.
    Lets make primary education exciting again so that all children want to be engaged in it. That will reduce the number of children labelled as special needs and improve discipline in school.

  • Comment number 100.

    The system does require "tuning",

    My 8yr old daughter works with a SEN tutor because she has mild learning difficulties due to problems with her sight, the only problem is inadequate resources to the schools so that they can adequately provide the extra tuition that many pupils like my daughter require.

    Every meeting we have had they have drew up an action plan of what is needed to bring her up to speed as it were, and they always comment to me that what she could do with in an ideal world was 1 to 1 tutoring on certain subjects but unfortunately they do not have the resources to do this.

    We can not allow the education system to fail our children, we can not doom these youngsters and write them off as failures because we choose to invest in more weapons and a nuclear deterrent and expenses to politicians £140000 per year per member of parliament x 600+,

    Instead of investing in ensuring a better educated and therefore a better tooled future generation for this nation, after all they are the ones that are going to have to come up with an answer to the mess we leave for them.

    This is a clear attempt by the conservatives to justify cutting support to another vulnerable group who do not have a voice or paying lobby group to buy their interests.

 

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