Can 20% of schoolchildren really have special needs?

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As a former Deputy Head & class teacher for 22 years before becoming an author & broadcaster I am fascinated as the £5 billion budget for pupils with learning difficulties is rising fast – but is the money being used to cope with a new tide of poor parenting and failed teaching?

I work in many schools now running my Beat Bullying – Confidence Classes for Kids and I see so many different approaches to how schools are run, how they cope with children who are less polite, more unruly and unable to concentrate and also how they allocate their resources for special needs children who covers a HUGE umbrella of diagnoses.

Here’s my article “Special Needs” is like an umbrella sheltering and hiding a huge collection of diagnoses underneath.

In a primary school in Surrey, the head teacher recalls among the four-year-olds joining the reception class, she had several who had not been toilet-trained. She put it down to inadequate parenting and sent them home until they had learnt to use a lavatory. “I’m not a social worker,” she told their families. They, however, kicked up a fuss, so she turned to the local education authority for support. Their suggestion was that she place the children on the special educational needs (SEN) register.

But is that the right thing to do ? Surely that’s taking valuable resources away from children with real special and unique needs.

Many experts fear that funds earmarked to help children with learning difficulties are being redirected to cope with a new tide of social deprivation that is washing up in the classroom. Children from troubled homes, who turn up at schools with behavioural problems, are being routinely put on the SEN register alongside those with more specific learning difficulties, such as dyslexia and dyspraxia.

It is a picture apparently borne out by official figures, which show that affluent Richmond upon Thames in west London has 11.8 per cent of primary pupils on the SEN register. In Liverpool, with its higher levels of unemployment and poverty, that figure is 22.6 per cent.

So are SEN, and the vast resources that accompany it, being used as an excuse for poor parenting?

Read more here in The Daily Telegraph

What do you think?


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