Centre for Studies on Inclusive Education

supporting inclusion, challenging exclusion

news from 2006

January

Government inspectors have said that a Workington school's disability facilities are very good. Ashfield Junior School's learning difficulties and disability facilities were inspected by Ofsted which said they had many outstanding features. Inspector, Michael McDowell said pupils made good progress and achieved well in relation to their capabilities. The provision for pupils with learning difficulties and disabilities was exceptional, as were the school's links with other organisations. Headteacher Sam Kidd said: 'It's something that we as the whole school, staff and governing body, have worked on over the last few years. We are particularly pleased with the way it said all children have improved and that it did not just focus on the academic school life but the all-round developments of the children.'
Workington Times and Star, January 13, 2006

High Court judges will rule in a dispute over whether a child with a disability should have been excluded from a Westcliff school on several occasions. His parents, David and Lauren, said the school should not have excluded their son because his behaviour was caused by his attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and oppositional defiant disorder. The school said his behaviour on those occasions had nothing to do with his disorder, so they still had the right to exclude him. Schools are not allowed to exclude someone because of his or her disability. A tribunal ruled in the parents' favour but the school has appealed against the decision. The case, which is supported by the Disability Rights Commission, will now come before the High Court in the coming months.
Basildon Echo, January 19, 2006

The headteacher of a school that supports children with learning difficulties has praised education chiefs who are backing plans to relocate to a mainstream high school. Suffolk County Council's Cabinet will decide next month whether to give the green light to public consultations on moving Thomas Wolsey in Old Norwich Road, Ipswich, to Thurleston High School, which is less than a mile away in Defoe Road. The plan is to develop a state of the art building on the same site as Thurleston and if no objections are raised the school will open in September with the old Thomas Wolsey building being sold. Nancy McArdle, headteacher at Thomas Wolsey, which currently has 93 pupils aged three to 19 who have complex physical needs said: 'It is a fantastic opportunity and would be the fulfilment of a 30-year-dream. I have always felt there would be so many more possibilities for our young people if they has closer links with mainstream.'
East Anglian Daily Times, January 27, 2006

Teacher Janet Daley this week warned she would not be silenced by education chiefs over her concern for the plight of West Somerset's special needs youngster following a decision to close units dedicated to their needs. Somerset County Council's executive board has controversially decided that resources bases at Minehead First and Minehead Middle Schools, at the West Somerset Community College, Kingsmead Community School and two others in Taunton and Wellington will be axed by April 2008. Mrs. Daley, who has run the Minehead First Unit for the past four years and has received widespread acclaim for its achievements, described the move as short-sighted and wrong. However Cllr Gloria Cawood, the county's portfolio holder for education, said the closure of the units would mean that children with special educational needs across the whole of Somerset would receive funding in the same way, irrespective of where they lived. The funding would be allocated on the basis of individual evidence and audited need.
West Somerset Free Press, January 27, 2006

A party was being held today to celebrate the success of a scheme enabling children with severe learning difficulties and disabilities to attend mainstream children's centres. Over the past three years, more than 30 children have made the move through a partnership between Leeds City Council's Early Years Service and Education Leeds.
Yorkshire Evening Post, January 27, 2006


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February

The mother of a young girl who cannot walk, talk, or see has been ordered by education chiefs to send her daughter to school or face legal action. Gemma Thompson has a rare genetic disorder, severe epilepsy, vulnerability to chest infections and is so frail she only breaths twice a minute. But her mother, Caroline, has been threatened with legal proceedings unless she sends the ten-year-old to a special school, at least half an hour's drive away from their home in Dufftown, Aberdeenshire. Her local authority is insisting Gemma attends school because she will get stimulation from other children. Her mother has been warned that if she refuses the case could be referred to a children's hearing. But Thomson, 45, who wants to care for her daughter at home has accused Abderdeenshire Council of being heavy-handed and 'politically correct'.
Scotland on Sunday, February 5, 2006

A Basildon school could help plug the teacher shortage crisis if plans for a 300,000 extension to be used as a teacher training centre are approved. Chalvedon School, Pitsea, plans a three storey extension to house student teachers and a hi-tech medical centre for special needs pupils. The school where Tory leader, David Cameron, launched his education strategy last month, wants to develop the building in a central courtyard, with the medical complex on the ground floor and extra classrooms on the upper two floors. Bob Rymarz, school director of finance and administration, said the plans were another example of initatives from the 'forward thinking' school.
Basildon Echo, February 8, 2006

A shake-up of services for children with special needs will go under the microscope next week. The review in South Tyneside is part of a more inclusive approach to education, giving children with special needs a chance to learn in mainstream schools while offering specialist facilities.
Sunderland Echo, February 9 2006

Parents in some authorities are up to 50 times more likely to start a legal battle with their local council over special needs provision. A Times Educational Supplement analysis reveals that the London Borough of Richmond had the highest rate of special needs appeals of England's 150 local authorities with more than ten for every thousand special needs children in 2004/5. Warrington and Coventry Councils had rates 50 times lower, with just 0.2 appeals for every thousand SEN pupils.
Times Educational Supplement, February 10, 2006

Children with special educational needs are too often being placed inappropriately in mainstream schools, costing them a proper education, a teachers' leader warned at the weekend. Irish National Teachers' Organisation (INTO) general secretary, John Carr, said the Government policy of inclusion of children with special educational needs is strongly supported by the union. But he said the inclusion policy is not implemented properly, creating false expectations for parents and sometimes ignoring the educational needs of pupils.
Irish Examiner, Cork, February 13, 2006

Schools could be closed by a project to improve inclusion in a north council area with the country's highest proportion of pupils with special educational needs. A report by the Centre for Studies on Inclusive Education (CSIE) last year said that children in South Tyneside were 24 times more likely to be segregated in special schools that the best LEA for including pupils in mainstream schools. Now South Tyneside Council has drawn up a report to improve inclusion in mainstream schools which recommends closing Margaret Sutton School, in South Shields, and Epinay School in Jarrow and replacing them with a new centre for children with multiple needs. There are also proposals to close Oakleigh Gardens in Cleadon and Greenfield School in Hebburn and rebuild a new centre, possibly on the site of a secondary school in Hebburn.
The Journal, February 13, 2006

Writing in the Times Education Supplement, the chairman of the Royal National Institute for the Blind, Colin Low, says twice as many parents appealing to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal want a special school than those who appeal for mainstream. He argues that until mainstream is able to meet every child's needs it will be necessary to keep in place a special school option. In addition special schools will also be needed for pupils with profound and multiple learning difficulties who require one-to-one attention from specialist staff.
Times Educational Supplement, February 17, 2006

A city MP today urged county leaders to stop ploughing millions of pounds into transporting children with special needs to education centres around the county and invest it in schools. Last year more than 3.2 million was spent on taxis to transport children who could not be educated at their local schools. 2.8 million of that went on taking youngsters to the council's 12 special schools in Norfolk, some travelling across the entire country. Dr Ian Gibson, Norwich North MP, said the extent of the travel costs caused concern and suggested the money would be better spent on providing additional help.
Evening News (Norwich), February 27, 2006


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March

Discrimination against people with disabilities is being challenged by a new campaign. 'Are We taking The Dis?' launched by the Disability Rights Commission (DRC), aims to highlight the impact of disability discrimination and features real life stories of disabled people receiving unfair treatment. It points out how disabled 16-year-olds are twice as likely to be out of education or work as their non-disabled peers, while disabled adults are more likely to be out of work or in low paid jobs than non-disabled people and earn an average of ten per cent. less per hour than non-disabled people.
Chingford Guardian, March 2, 2006

A public consultation has begun on a blueprint to boost services for children with special educational needs in Derbyshire. The move is part of a review by Derbyshire County Council about the way services are provided to young people with learning difficulties - including sight and hearing problems and autism. Some of the main ideas include increasing the number of pupils who get help with special educational needs in mainstream schools, developing a greater level of specialism at all ten special schools run by Derbyshire County Council, creating more places in mainstream schools to help children with autism or physical disabilities, and involving young people with special educational needs in decisions about their future.
Derbyshire Times, March 16, 2006

A new £37.3m education village will help provide an inclusive atmosphere for children of all educational abilities and ages, say council bosses. The Education Village in Darlington brings together Springfield Primary School, Haughton Community School and special needs school Beaumont Hill Technology College. It includes sports facilities, a performance hall and dance and drama studios. Chief Executive, Dame Dela Smith, said it would provide a unique learning experience. 'What's unique here is we've got the special needs school in the centre of the village - not in isolation or at the side. We want it to be an integral part and not a bolt-on or an add-on.'
Northern Echo, Darlington/South Durham, March 18, 2006

Police are being asked to investigate school staff who stripped and showered a pupil with cerebral palsy. The 14-year-old was left in tears after staff at Woodlawn School in Whitley Bay stripped and showered him after claiming he smelled of urine. As revealed in the Chronicle, education chiefs have found the youngster a new school after this mum refused to send him back to Woodlawn. Now as the teenager begins his new school life, his mum said she is going to report that he was stripped and showered to the police as a possible assault. A North Tyneside Council spokeswoman said: 'Although a child protection hearing confirmed that no action was required she is within her rights to pursue this. As legal action is possible it would be in appropriate to comment further at this time.'
Evening Chronicle, Newcastle, March 22, 2006

Peter Gordon, head of Hazel Court, a special school in Eastbourne on a mainstream site, says that co-location is the way forward for inclusion for children with severe learning difficulties. Mr. Gordon, who also runs a further education unit on the same site, said he believed that pupils got the best of both worlds. 'We've got specialised staff and superb facilities here. We've got a hydrotherapy pool and a soft play area but we have also got access to two dining halls, an assembly hall, sports facilities and a library. Half our children go to some lessons in mainstream and loads of their youngsters come over to us every day to help with classes. They look at what our children achieve and learn to have respect for them. This is quite a deprived area of Eastbourne but we have never had one incident of bullying. We share the same uniform and we join in on school trips.'
The Independent (Education), March 23, 2006

A dyslexic man who says he fell through the educational net and was forgotten today launched a claim for £500,000 damages. Richard Smith, 27, was of above average intelligence and without any other disability when he was removed from mainstream school at the age of eight because of his literacy problems. He was placed in the special school system where he remained, neither identified or treated, until he was 16, his counsel, Nicholas Bowen told Judge Seymour QC at London's High Court. Mr Smith is suing Hampshire County Council and Knowsley Metropolitan District Council, claiming that he has been 'disabled by the education system itself'. He argues that he was 'grossly misplaced' by Hampshire County Council for his education between eight and 15 and that when he moved to Knowsley the authority missed the opportunity to keep him in education until he was 19 and make good the damage.
PA Newswire, March 28, 2006

Writing in the Scotsman newspaper, Kristina Woolnough questions whether cutting support for disabled children by reducing hours for learning assistants at schools in Edinburgh can be considered as contravening the new Additional Support for Learning Act. She says: 'Edinburgh City Council has decided to reduce learning assistant hours with no analysis of need and no room for negotiation. Is this legal under the terms of the act? Or will school staff, compromised by being in the employ of the Council, have to adjust their strategies accordingly?'
The Scotsman, March 29, 2006


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April

Another parent has joined the call for more support for autistic children and better training about autism for mainstream school teachers. Carol Keable sends son Lewis, 13, to a special needs school but hopes to move him into a mainstream high school. Norfolk's ability to cope with autistic children was called into question today after another parent claimed the county's education system had let her down. Carol Keable said she and husband Duncan had felt totally isolated after their son was diagnosed when he was six. Although Lewis is at last enjoying life at a special school in north Norfolk, it was not until the Keables had spent years teaching him at home that a suitable place became available.
Evening News, Norwich, April 19, 2006

The Disability Rights Commission has said it is satisfied that a Scottish Council did not behave improperly by allowing an autistic boy to be taught in a cupboard for seven months. The watchdog began investigating Dumfries and Galloway Council last week after the boy's mother made a complaint. The Council said that the boy, aged ten, could not be accommodated in existing facilities and although it had purchased a new £50,000 portable classroom, special safety furniture had not been installed. The boy would be taught there after the Easter break. A spokeswoman for the DRC said the commission was satisfied that the council was doing everything it could.
Children Now, April 19, 2006

Andrew Shipley, secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers has written to Isle of Man Education Minister, David Anderson, and Education Director, John Cain asking for a comprehensive review of provision for pupils with social, emotional and behaviour difficulties. An ATL survey found that 99 per cent. of teachers in England have had dealings with a disruptive pupil, which Mr Shipley believes is representative, if not indicative, of the way things are going in Manx schools. He said: 'There is a need to ensure that disruptive behaviour does not detract from what goes on in lessons and teachers need to feel supported by senior members of staff - that when help is needed it will be there.'
Manx Independent, April 21, 2006

Second-level schools will be met with an avalanche of students with special needs in coming years and they won't have the resources to deal with them, the Teachers Union of Ireland (TUI) warned yesterday. A policy of integrating students with special needs into mainstream primary schools was introduced in 1997 and these students are now reaching post-primary schools. However, the union's new assistant general secretary said post-primary schools were already struggling to provide support to current students. The National Educational Psychological Service only had 122 educational psychologists for the entire state. Students faced long delays in getting assessed by a psychologist and without this assessment, extra resources could not be granted.
Irish Times, Dublin, April 21, 2006

Irish Education Minister, Mary Hanafin, has warned that she will introduce regulations, if she has to, to make all schools take their fair share of children with special needs and learning difficulties. She told managers and principals of Catholic secondary schools she would not tolerate the exclusion of such children and non-national children from any schools. Ms Hanafin, who was speaking at the annual conference of the Association of Management of Catholic Secondary Schools (AMCSS), said exclusion was not happening in fee-paying schools alone. 'I know it is happening in other schools. In a place where you have two or three schools side by side, one school could have a majority of special needs and non-national children which is not fair. It is important to have schools which are inclusive and resources will be there to support schools which want to support these children.' The President of the (AMCSS), Paul Meaney, said the ideal Catholic school was one which was representative of the whole community and provided opportunities for students of all means and backgrounds. But he emphasised society would have to provide the tools and the resources to effectively cater for students with special needs. 'Supports required include significant improvements in the teaching and other support services given to schools, a huge improvement in the National Educational Psychology Service, the provision for quality in-service staff and new partnerships with professionals in the health service,' he said.
Irish Examiner, Cork, April 28, 2006


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May

Schools should be legally obliged to take in pupils with special educational needs, the Teachers' Union of Ireland suggested yesterday. Assistant general secretary, John MacGabhann, said every pupil had the right to attend a school in their own locality with their friends and siblings. But too many schools were either covertly or overtly avoiding enrolling some pupils with special educational needs, sometimes claiming not to have the resources to cope. Mr MacGabhann said the National Council for Special Education had legal powers to designate schools for individual pupils and should use those powers. The designated schools should then be given the resources to be able to meet the student's needs.
Irish Independent, Dublin, May 9, 2006

More Oxfordshire primary schools are crammed into 'nightmare' classes of 36 or above than any other South East authority, according to Government figures. Bob Martyn, spokesman for the Oxfordshire Association of Teachers and Lecturers said: 'Class sizes have been creeping back up. On top of that, teachers have an increased number of children with special needs and their teaching assistants have been taken away to help provide planning, preparation, and assessment time so they have more behaviour issues to deal with. It's a nightmare for any teacher to have that sort of class. Trying to control all these different groups at once and seeing every child has got work at the right level - that's the sort of thing that makes teachers burn out with stress.'
Oxford Mail, May 12, 2006

The parents of an 11-year-old boy who cannot read or write will today go to the High Court in the hope of forcing an East Anglian Council to pay for their son to attend a private special school. Emma Jones and her husband, Ian, the chaplain at Wymondham College, believe their son, Evan, needs specialist teaching in a £19,000 year special school in Suffolk to overcome his severe dyslexia,dyspraxia and behaviour problems. But Norfolk County Council believes that Evan should be taught - with extra support - in a mainstream village primary. After a series of independent tribunal hearings which ruled in the council's favour, Mr. and Mrs. Jones will today ask the High Court in London to review how Evan's case was handled.
Eastern Daily Press, May 12, 2006

Mainstream teachers are now regularly doing dangerous and unpleasant tasks such as cleaning out tracheotomy tubes and changing nappies. A report publish this week said teachers are being asked to work 'above and beyond the call of duty' because schools lack the resources to support children with the severe special needs. Huge demands are being placed on teachers who lack proper training and could be vulnerable to legal action if something goes wrong, according to the study carried out by Cambridge University academics for the National Union of Teachers. Problems are greatest in the most disadvantaged areas where schools often face 'a critical mass of unmet needs that overwhelm staff and create a downward spiral of achievement', the report said.
Times Educational Supplement, May 19, 2006

Parents who have children with special educational needs face an uncertain future with the closure of three Tyneside primary schools. Gateshead councillors voted to shut Tyne View, Lindisfarne, and Windmill Hills schools in 2007 as part of a bid to cut surplus places. But now parents who have pupils with special needs at the schools have blasted the Council for failing to inform them about alternative places. Director of learning and schools at Gateshead Council, David Mitchell, has given a reassurance that all parents of SEN children will be consulted individually about an alternative placement which will best meet their child's needs.'
Evening Chronicle, Newcastle, May 25, 2006

A specialist school for disabled children is set to move to new £6 million premises. The Thomas Wolsey School, based in Old Norwich Road, Ipswich, will be built with state of the art buildings in the grounds of nearby Thurleston High School. News of the move coincided with Suffolk education experts calling on the county council to rethink its policy on inclusion following a report from academics on problems in schools when special needs children were included. However the head of Thomas Wolsey, Mrs Nancy McArdle, said she was confident that the link-up with Thursleton would create no such difficulties. 'It's almost the best of both worlds because pupils will have the opportunity to choose.'
Ipswich Evening Star, May 26, 2006

Conservatives have suffered a setback in their campaign to stop the closure of 'special' schools. An amendment to the Education Bill put forward by the party stating that 'no special school shall be closed by a local education authority without the consent of the secretary of state' was voted down by 369 votes to 147.
Children Now, May 31, 2006


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June

A number of Cambridge University academics say the NUT report on inclusion undermines the dignity of children and teachers. Writing in the Times Education Supplement, they say: "A policy of inclusion is generally understood around the world as part of a human rights agenda. We in the special needs and inclusion team at the faculty of education, Cambridge University, support this policy as an integral aspect of schooling that acknowledges the shared humanity of all learners … While 'special needs education' is defined as providing something 'additional to' or 'different from' that which is otherwise available in school, inclusive education challenges complacency about what is not 'otherwise available' and calls for new ways of working for the benefit of all."
Times Educational Supplement, June 2, 2006

Hundreds of children with autism and Asperger Syndrome could be condemned to years of school isolation by a 'watered down' overhaul of special needs education in Norfolk, it was claimed last night. Campaigners say a blueprint for change has left out many crucial points that could boost schooling for youngsters with the two conditions. But education chiefs defended the consultation document and pledged to continue to improve special needs provision in the county. The campaigners said that key areas for success seemed to have been forgotten about in the blueprint. Areas that needed to be addressed included: lack of accurate and consistent data, inequality of access to provision, lack of co-ordination and consistency of support, the need to train all school staff to give them a minimum level of knowledge, and reducing the need to place pupils in specialist centres out of the county.
Eastern Daily Press, June 13, 2006

Children in Ryedale with special needs and behaviour difficulties will soon be getting an improved education package. North Yorkshire County Council is consulting with the public over the best way to create more local specialist services. County Councillor Caroline Patmore, executive member for children and young peoples' services said: 'We are committed to updating and renewing our special schools so that they are modern and fit for the 21st century. We are also proposing a whole raft of new provisions in mainstream schools so that more parents of children with severe and complex needs, such as autism, can choose high quality mainstream provision if they wish.'
Malton and Pickering Mercury, June 14, 2006

The resignation of Tony Manwaring, the embattled chief executive of cerebral palsy charity Scope, was not unexpected. For the past 12 months, rumours have been circulating that he was about to resign or be sacked. Last week Scope confirmed what had been the subject of a fresh outbreak of gossip: the man who set out to reform and transform one of Britain's best known charities had departed. The Press statement said that he had completed many of the objectives of a three year programme of reform and renewal. But for many in the world of disability charities this was not the full story. Rachel Hurst, the founder of Disability Awareness in Action, claims that Manwaring has upset the 'able-bodied' status quo. 'What he was trying to do was unique and he has a grasp of disability rights that is rarely seen in an able-bodied person. As far as I can see, he was supporting disabled people, rather than providing services they did not want and that were keeping them on the sidelines of society.'
The Guardian, June 14, 2006

Worried teachers today claimed that they would not be able to cope if hundreds of special needs children moved to mainstream schools as part of council plans. Earlier this week the Evening News reported on radical plans that could mean more youngsters are educated in mainstream schools. Norfolk County Council is proposing a school-based network of specialist units for youngsters with a range of problems including autism, hearing and sight loss and learning difficulties. Education officers hope more parents will choose mainstream but insist that children will not be forced against their wishes to integrate into the schools.
Evening News, Norwich, June 22, 2006

A school forced to fight a three-year battle after suspending a pupil for spitting in a teacher's face has finally won its case - at a cost of £100,000 to the taxpayer. The parents of the 17-year-old boy took action against the comprehensive for sending him home after he attacked a male teacher. But the Court of Appeal has finally backed the school's right to exclude the troublemaker. The boy was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperacitivy Disorder after he was suspended and the parents took the case to a tribunal, alleging discrimination. The Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal twice backed the school. But on each occasion the parents appealed to the High Court and the decisions were overturned. Then at a third hearing the tribunal backed the parents and ordered the governors to apologise - so the school appealed to the High Court. Now that court has overturned the tribunal decision. Mr Justice Crane said it was defective because the school did not know about the boy's disability when it suspended him.
Daily Mail, June 24, 2006

Efforts to integrate sign language into day-to-day activities at a Sutton Coldfield school have been praised in a glowing inspection report from education watchdog OFSTED. Mere Green Combined School for children aged three to 11 has been rated as 'good and improving'. Around a third of the 215 pupils have special educational needs, 38 with a statement of special needs. Twenty-eight are taught in the school's speech and language resource base, and sign language is used to improve the quality of lessons for all children including those with communication difficulties. In the report, inspectors said that academic standards had 'risen sharply' in the last year and that pupils 'behaved exceptionally well' as a result of 'good care, guidance and support'.
Sutton Coldfield News, June 30, 2006

Angry parents clashed with council officers at Bedale on Tuesday over a radical review of the special educational needs service in North Yorkshire. Senior education officers were repeatedly interrupted as they tried to explain proposals which could see the number of special schools in the county reduced from 11 to 6 and more integration of pupils into mainstream schools. Almost 200 parents of children at Mowbray School, Bedale, attended a three-hour meeting at which it was claimed the centre, regarded as highly successful, would suffer under new plans, designed to be phased in over ten years. The county council insisted it had not launched a cost-cutting exercise but was responding to Government requirements to remove education barriers. It said its proposals, involving an investment of £50m, would offer greater choice to parents of children with moderate or severe learning difficulties while maintaining opportunities for pupils with more profound problems.
Darlington and Stockton Times, June 30, 2006


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July

The head of Communications and Campaigns for Scope, Louise High, has said media coverage on the NUT survey of inclusion has fundamentally misinterpreted its findings. Writing in the editorial of the SEN Magazine, she says that on close inspection the report reveals there is no conclusion that inclusive education cannot work, although it isn't working at present due to a critical lack of investment in resources, training, and specialist expertise. She describes talk of the 'damage' that inclusion can cause as 'finding a soft target to blame for society's shameful treatment of disabled children'. According to Louise High: 'If we could bring together the right combination of personal support, with a curriculum focussed on achievement rather than academic attainment, while supporting disabled young people to be part of their community - we might achieve a system that is fair for disabled and non-disabled people. I am not saying inclusion is easy; it isn't. Nor am I saying that it can happen immediately. But we must set out to achieve it in a realistic way, planning and developing the real resources it will take to make it work.'
SEN Magazine, July 1, 2006

Many of the 1.5 million children in England with special education needs are being failed by a system which is 'not fit for purpose', MPs warned today. The House of Commons Education Select Committee criticised ministers for sending 'confused' messages over how to teach pupils with special needs. As a result of this confusion, councils are reportedly closing special schools leaving children and their parents' frustrated and depressed, the committee said. And the MPs condemned top state schools for refusing to teach children with special needs in an attempt to boost their position in the league tables. The report found there was a 'postcode lottery' for parents trying to find the best school for children with learning difficulties. 'The special educational needs system is demonstrably no longer fit for purpose', the select committee said. 'There is a need to develop a new system that puts the needs of the child at the centre of provision.'
Evening News Norwich, July 6, 2006

A massive overhaul of provision for youngsters with special educational needs has been unveiled by county council education chiefs. From August next year all units in Cheshire's primary schools for pupils with special educational needs will be shut, and all secondary school departments offering assistance for those with moderate learning difficulties and emotional and behavioural difficulties will be closed down. In their place will be a streamlined alternative, offering special needs units in each locality rather than at a number of different venues. For pupils with statements of special educational needs or living with an impairment there will be more limited options. Eight primary schools will provide education for children with autism and another eight schools will be lined up to host units for youngsters with emotional and behaviour difficulties. Meanwhile three primary schools will have resources to teach those with severe and profound hearing impairment. And a further 22 junior and infant schools will be identified for pupils with a spectrum of special needs. Plans are being made for three secondary schools to take pupils with autism, and one central secondary school will teach hearing impaired pupils. Each secondary school will be given funding to create and an 'inclusion resource centre'.
Community News, Macclesfield, July 6, 2006

Hexham Priory School has gained national recognition for its work integrating pupils with severe learning difficulties into mainstream schools. It has now been awarded the Leading Aspect Award by the Department for Education for its inclusion programme. Priory has developed a partnership with mainstream schools in the district designed to enrich the lives of its pupils. Of its 53 pupils, 17 are dual registered, usually with their local mainstream school. A report posted on the Leading Aspect Award's website says: 'The inclusion programme enables youngsters to find and develop their strengths in mainstream settings, enhance their life skills and extend their social contacts …The programme benefits the participating schools by enabling mainstream schools to have greater access to resources, expertise and training for staff in managing their own children who may exhibit some degree of learning difficulty or disability'.
Hexham Courant (Web), July 6, 2006

There will be no U-turns, it seems, at Scope. The disability charity will push ahead with the controversial reforms and financial recovery plans set in train by former chief executive, Tony Manwaring, who resigned last month. Jon Sparkes, acting chief executive, will be in charge for the next 18 months to carry forward the agenda set by Manwaring. Sparkes says Scope's trustees have given him 'every support' in driving forward Manwaring's reforms, moving Scope away from institutional care provision and pushing for disabled people to go into mainstream education and accommodation.
The Guardian, July 12, 2006


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August

Children with special educational needs (SEN) have a better chance of developing their academic, personal and social skills in a well-resourced mainstream school than in any other educational setting, according to ground-breaking new report. The Ofsted report, published last month, also showed that while children with SEN could learn well in mainstream and special schools there was 'more good and outstanding provision in resourced mainstream schools than elsewhere'. The report singled out high quality specialist teachers and commitment from school leaders to include all pupils, as keys to effective provision. But inspectors found fewer pupils with severe or multiple learning difficulties placed in mainstream schools than other groups, even where specialist provision was available. And the report said that pupil referral units - individual schools for pupils with learning difficulties - were 'the least successful of all settings.'
Disability Now, August 1, 2006

Education and Skills Secretary, Alan Johnson said SEN remains a priority for the Government. He said Council's spending on SEN had risen from £2.8billion in 2001/02 to an estimated £4.5 billion in 2006/7, but the government would look at possible further funding in its spending review, which includes a focus on disabled children. He said the government 'does not have a policy of closing special schools' and that inclusion was about 'the quality of children's education …whether that is a mainstream or a special school.
Disability Now, August 1, 2006

More has to be done for children with special educational needs in our schools, according to some parents and teachers. Robert Buckland, the parliamentary spokesman for South Swindon, who has a daughter with special needs, is hoping to call a meeting later this year with parents to discuss how providing for pupils with special educational needs can be improved in schools. Last week the Education Select Committee called for stronger Government guidelines for councils to end a postcode lottery of provision. Mr Buckland said: 'Many children with special needs are not being given a statement of SEN until they are past ten years of age. This is shocking and unacceptable.' He added: 'It is time for a change. I want to see a system that puts parents in the centre of the decision making process. We need to know what the policy is for SEN provision because at the moment there is no clear policy.'
Swindon Advertiser, August 9, 2006

Teachers lack the training and expertise they need to educate pupils with autism, creating misery for many of the 90,000 children with the condition, says the National Autistic Society. A report by the charity says that more than one in 110 children have autism, yet more than 70 per cent. of schools are unsatisfied with teacher training for the condition. Less than a third of parents of children with autism in mainstream are satisfied with the understanding of the condition at their school. The society said lack of training meant many staff were unable to adapt their lessons and materials to suit pupils with autism. This could be one reason why a quarter of such pupils are excluded.
Times Educational Supplement, August 25, 2006

Some 4,000 pupils have been helped by the Communications Aids Project, and for many it has meant the chance to remain in mainstream education. The £20million scheme was set up by the Department of Education and Skills in 2002 to support councils in providing technology and training for pupils with communication difficulties. Councils are responsible for funding assistive technology but the end of the CAP scheme has left some struggling. John Liddle from AbilityNet, a computing and disability charity, said: 'CAP supplemented schools and local authorities, it provided a cushion for them. A big void has been left and people are going to have to rattle the cage to make sure that funding for assistive technology comes through.' AbilityNet and ACE Centres, another charity, now set up Local CAPacity, a service that provides equipment, loans, training, assessment and advice. East Sussex, West Sussex, Leicester City, Northumberland and Brighton and Hove Councils have signed up to the scheme.
Times Educational Supplement, August 25, 2006

Parents and teachers of children with special educational needs have been told they must wait longer to hear about plans which could see the closure of three Scarborough schools. North Yorkshire county councillors are to be given more time to discuss reaction to the controversial proposals which would see Springhead and Woodlands schools demolished to make way for a new special school on the Woodland site. At the end of last term there were 86 pupils at Woodlands School and 50 at Springhead - yet the new school would only have places for 95 pupils. More pupils would be educated in mainstream schools under the proposal and there is also a possibility Brompton Hall School would close, with pupils moving to another specially built school outside the Scarborough area.
Scarborough Evening News, August 23, 2006


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September

Rona Tutt, a leading special educational needs expert, warns in a paper published today that nearly 1.5 million pupils with special needs are being demoralised by targets, tables and testing regimes that set them unreachable goals. The former president of the National Association of Head Teachers, who was awarded the OBE for her work as a special school head, highlights the conflict between targets and the Government's aim of an inclusive system where all pupils feel equally valued. The paper, co-written by Tricia Barthorpe, former head of North Lincolnshire's special needs service, puts pressure on the Government to overhaul an SEN system which MPs have described as 'not fit for purpose'.
Times Educational Supplement, September 1, 2006

All publicly funded bodies including those in the education sector will need new arrangements in place by December 4 to positively promote disability equality for employees, students and other service users. Under the new responsibilities colleges and schools must develop disability equality schemes showing how they intend to meet the requirements of the new duty and they must also ensure that disabled people are directly involved in putting together the schemes.
FE Now, September 1, 2006

Education secretary Alan Johnson hailed a new special school in Weymouth as a model for the rest of the country during a visit yesterday. The Secretary of State joined Schools Minister and South Dorset MP, Jim Knight, for a tour of facilities at the new Wyvern School in Dorchester Road. The potential Labour leadership candidate said that the £6.5 million spent on the building was worth every penny and was a shining example of how mainstream and special schools can share the same site. Wyvern is relocating from its current cramped building to state-of-the art premises built alongside Wey Valley School and St. Nicholas and St. Laurence School. After touring the facilities, Mr. Johnson told teachers and pupils assembled in the new sports hall that Wyvern epitomised what the Government wanted to do in education - namely co-locations which knitted together great facilities for children of all needs.
Dorset Echo, September 15, 2006

A multinational American company has been hired to smooth the way for a controversial new city academy in Islington. Edison Schools has been hired to transform Islington Green secondary school into a new academy at its premises in Prebend Street, Angel, which has the City of London and City University as its £2 million sponsors. But the move has been attacked by the National Union of Teachers who claim that the company in America had previously 'kept out' children with special needs at its schools to boost results. The allegation comes as education ministers have gone out of their way to insist that the new academy, Islington Green School, will be completely non-selective. Edison Schools vehemently denied the claim, maintaining they do not exclude special needs children.
Islington Tribune, September 29, 2006


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October

An influential committee of MPs has delivered a stinging rebuke to Alan Johnson, the Education Secretary, after he refused to make any significant changes to the provision of special educational needs in England's primary and secondary schools. He promised to improve training for teaching staff but ruled out changing the system of assessments and statements, which has been criticised. The move was in response to a report by the Commons Education Select committee in July which called for an overhaul of the system and breaking the link between the assessment of needs and funding. Barry Sheerman, chairman of the committee, said it was a 'real missed opportunity'. 'Despite clear evidence that the process is not working as it should, the Government relies on the argument that "no-one has a better alternative". This is not acceptable. If the system is not working properly it is the Government's duty to look for a better way forward.'
The Times, October 12, 2006

Campaigners fighting to save two school-based units catering for some of West Somerset's most vulnerable children were this week forced to accept defeat. Richard Lindley, the independent adjudicator appointed to make the final decision on the future of the special educational needs units at Minehead First School and the West Somerset Community College, backed Somerset County Council's cost-cutting closure proposals in the face of overwhelming opposition locally. Mr. Lindley said that with individual funding allocated to children with special educational needs both the school and the college were benefiting from 'double funding' which was why the council argued that for the sake of parity and the most efficient use of resources the separate funding for the units should be discontinued. He had been assured that other bases existed within the county which were funded from within school budgets. Transitional financial arrangements promised by the Council would allow the school and college to adjust their budgets and to enable the facilities and human resources to be preserved or refined.
West Somerset Free Press, October 13, 2006

Special needs units at five Gwent schools are threatened with closure in a council shake-up of services which is leaving parents outraged. Torfaen Council says the cash saved could be re-invested in a new learning support service team as well as boosting schools' budgets. It says it is following guidelines which say local authorities should develop an 'inclusion strategy' to make sure more children are taught in mainstream education. A new support team would support staff and special needs pupils in mainstream classes across the borough if proposals go ahead.
South Wales Argus, October 13, 2006

The Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists warned yesterday that speech and language therapy is becoming a 'soft target' for NHS cuts. The college said that there is a worrying trend emerging among NHS trusts to cut services to save cash. Norfolk primary care trust has cut funding for children 'needing essential help with communication', it noted. A total of 130 children with disabilities in special schools and more than 300 children attending mainstream schools will be affected.
Morning Star, October 13, 2006

A Channel 4 News investigation has found that disabled children are being physically restrained in the classroom. And charities representing children with learning difficulties are now calling for changes in the government's new Education Bill for England and Wales to put safeguards in place. There is growing concern at the way children with special needs are being educated in mainstream schools. Now charities want stronger guidance about how and when teachers can use force.
Channel 4 News (web), October 18, 2006

Work has begun on a new multi-million pound state-of-the-art school. The special needs school on the site of the former Meadway School in Tilehurst, will cost £19.1 million and replaces The Avenue School in Basingstoke Road, South Reading. The new school which will be fully equipped with classrooms and special needs facilities is due to be finished by September 2008.
Reading Evening Post, October 27, 2006

Violence or unruly behaviour by pupils has fuelled a rise in the number of exclusions from secondary schools. Teachers say violent conduct by youngsters in the classroom has increased as more of their colleagues have reported cases of sexual misconduct, bullying, damage, assaults against pupils or threatening behaviour towards adults and pupils. The number of exclusions from secondary schools has doubled in the past four years in Brighton and Hove. Louise Davies, a teacher at Falmer High School, Brighton, and branch secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said exclusion levels were far too high and children were being failed by the system. She blamed a Government policy of inclusion which had left children with special educational needs being taught in mainstream schools.
Argus, Brighton, October 31, 2006


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November

The Government has won mixed reviews for its response to a report on special educational needs by an influential committee of MPs. The response outlined plans for more training for SEN co-ordinators within schools, for local authorities on SEN provision and the need for more independence for officers who provide special needs. But Barry Shearman MP, chairman of the Education and Skills Select Committee, said he was extremely disappointed that the Government had failed to properly address issues in the committee's report publishes in July. Tara Flood, director of the Alliance for Inclusive Education, said she was 'disappointed but not surprised' about the Government's call for a range of SEN provision, including 'special' schools, which she felt was not in line with its inclusion policy.
Disability Now, November 1, 2006

Governors from Bexley schools were brought up to speed this week on plans to shake-up the borough's provision for special needs pupils. The proposals could mean more children with special educational needs in mainstream schools. The Consultation ends on November 15 and if proposals are agreed the plans could be put into action over the next three years.
KM Extra (Bexley), November 10, 2006

A mother in Bedfordshire has launched a controversial legal action against a school alleging that her six-year-old daughter was physically restrained repeatedly by staff at her primary school. Jade Chambers, who understands language at the level of a child half her age, was held down or 'handled' at least 25 times by staff over a six week period, according to her mother, Michelle, who was told nothing about what was happening. Next month Michelle Chambers will launch a landmark tribunal case when she accuses the local authority and Heathwood Lower School in Leighton Buzzard of discriminating against Jade who has special educational needs. In a case which will reignite the debate around how far teachers should be allowed to use physical force with children who are misbehaving, the local authority will say staff did nothing wrong. Force was only used as a last resort, where necessary, they will argue.
Observer, November 12, 2006

Placing children with special needs in mainstream schools is the norm, but what happens if the teachers struggle to give them the extra help they need? The March Foundation based at Dogmersfield, near Oldham, aims to give schools the support they need. The foundation takes children with special needs on residential trips. They work on the principle that by taking children out of their school environment, even for a short time, it can drastically help with their development and improve self-esteem. Robert Glossop, co-founder of the charity, said: 'We work to draw out their individual talents on these trips and they soon realise they can achieve things they never thought possible before. Self-esteem is one of the main benefits. They are different people as soon as they get on that mini-bus.'
Aldershot Mail, November 14, 2006

Plans to dramatically reduce the number of special schools in North Yorkshire are set to go ahead, despite concerns from some parents. Councillors will be asked to approve plans to close two schools and merge others cutting the overall number from 11 to seven. The move is part of a long-term plan to place more children with special needs in mainstream schools supported by specialist staff. Cynthia Welbourn, director of the county's children and young people's service said: 'There is not question of us either forcing children into special schools or mainstream schools'. She added that the time scales involved would mean no children already in special schools having to be moved. The Council would review how placements into mainstream schools were going before're-shaping' of special schools started. Under the plans 31 primary and secondary schools have been identified which could cater for children with special needs.
Yorkshire Post, November 15, 2006

All five secondary schools in the Isle of Man will be able to accommodate students with special needs when a new unit opens at St. Ninian's High School, Douglas. The unit, part of an extension to St. Ninian's, includes two good sized classrooms, a multi-sensory area and a life-skills facility. Derek Norton, deputy head of the DoE's special needs and psychology service said that the unit would be used flexibly with some pupils being supported in their subject classes and others requiring more specialist support being taught within the unit itself.
Isle of Man Examiner, November 28, 2006


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December

Disabled children and inclusive education campaigners marched to the headquarters of the Government's education department demanding to be heard by an education official. The protest, which was invited inside the lobby of the Department of Education and Skills, was led by the Alliance for Inclusive Education and co-incided with a parliamentary debate on the Government's renewed commitment to a continuum of flexible provision for disabled pupils including separate, 'special' schools. The march involved more than 50 protestors wearing red t-shirts inscribed with the phrase 'Inclusion Works'. The schools minister, Lord Adonis, agreed to meet with inclusionist groups at some point in the future to discuss how to develop the Government's inclusion. strategy.
Disability Now, December 1, 2006

Labour and Conservative politicians clashed last week over the future of special needs. It comes as both parties put forward proposals to ensure better provision for children with special needs. Schools Minister, Lord Adonis, last week announced a new test to ensure 'special' schools cannot be closed unless better alternatives exist. He also revealed that mandatory training of schools' special needs co-ordinators would be piloted next year. But Conservative leader, David Cameron called for a freeze on 'special' school closures.
Children Now, December 6, 2006

Plans for a massive shake-up of special needs education have caused outrage among Sutton Coldfield schools and parents. The plans involve co-locating 'special' schools onto the same site as mainstream schools, with separate 'special' schools meeting the needs of a 'very small percentage of children and young people with very complex needs'. Consultation with parents, staff and school governors is expected to start next year.
Sutton Coldfield Observer, December 8, 2006

A mother who has set up a parents' group fighting proposals to shake-up Bexley's special needs education says we could be 'sleeping walking to disaster'. Cheryl Moncrieffe has the support of other parents who are opposed to some of the changes being proposed by Bexley Council. She says Bexley Parents Education Group (BexPeg) is alarmed at the plans which could see more children taught in special units at mainstream schools and places halved for children with moderate learning difficulties. Cabinet member for children's services, Cllr. Teresa O'Neill, said that the plans would take a number of years to implement and overall would result in more specialist places, not fewer.
KM Extra, Bexley, December 8, 2006

An extra £400m will need to be spent over the next four years in Ireland to cater for pupils with special educational needs. The National Council of Special Educational Needs estimates that 18 per cent of school pupils require some level of special support. The figures are contained in an action plan for the implementation of the Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs Act, 2004, which underpins the rights of children with special educational needs to an education.
Evening Herald Dublin, December 19, 2006

Most teachers in mainstream schools are not equipped to help children with special educational needs, the National Union of Teachers has said. Only 18 per cent. of teachers surveyed felt confident teaching those with severe learning difficulties. Schools are now required to promote disability equality.
The Times, December 22, 2006

A controversial plan to reduce dramatically the number of 'special' schools has been given the go-ahead by councillors. Under the plan, six special schools in North Yorkshire will merge to form three and a further two will close, taking the overall number from 11 to seven. The change is designed to allow the right facilities to be put in place in mainstream schools. Council leaders insist no parents will be forced to send their children to mainstream schools and there will be enough places in special schools for those who need them.
Yorkshire Post, December 26, 2006

Tens of thousands of bright children in the poorest parts of England and Wales are being let down by schools that fail to nurture their talent, a leading government adviser has warned Tony Blair. Sir Cyril Taylor, chairman of the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust, said talent was being wasted and recommended a twenty-fold increase in spending on very able children to £100m. He said children who were exceptionally gifted had a special educational need and deserved extra support in the same way as those with learning and physical difficulties. 'Every child is different. There should be equal opportunities for all, not a lowest common denominator approach.'
The Observer, December 31, 2006


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