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Tuesday, 8 January 2008

SEN: The truth about Inclusion

You may have recently read in the The Observer (National) or the Daily Telegraph about a report I co-authored for The Bow Group on Special Educational Needs and inclusion. I looked at the results for children educated in mainstream schools, and the results were shocking. Whilst inclusion is right for some children with SEN, under the current system, Inclusion for many actually means exclusion.

The report found that children on the 'School Action Plus' scheme ( for children who would previously have been likely to have statements before the Government started pushing to reduce statementing) are twice as likely to truant as any other children with SEN, and a FIFTH of them are persistent truants.

When it comes to exlcusions, although children with SEN make up just 17% of the school population, they account for 67% of all expulsions.
And for the first time, in secondary schools over half of all suspensions were of children with SEN.

When it came into power, the Labour Government pushed for a reduction in statementing, and accordingly, statements fell by a third. Even assessments for statements fell by a third so many children didn't have the chance to find out whether they were eligible for statements. Special schools were strangulated and we have lost 9000 special school places since 1997.

One of the Government's ideas, set out in the 'Inclusive Schooling' document in 2001, was to put children with SEN into Pupil Referral Units, (PRUs), to keep pupils in mainstream schooling, or instead of special schools. Accordingly, numbers of SEN pupils in PRUs has rocketed by 70% since 1997.

What a mistake. In it's last annual report, (para. 290) Ofsted found that PRUs were the worst place for children with SEN, and no substitute for a special school. No wonder. Over half of all pupils are suspended from PRUs, and 3/4 of those are children with SEN.

Of all children with SEN who go to PRUs, two thirds end up suspended.

This is the alarming result of the Government's 'Inclusion' policy. We all believe in inclusion, but inclusion must be judged not by which building a child is educated in, but by the standard of education and life they receive. And on that measure, the Government's inclusion policy has failed.

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