In the news - SEN numbers drop by 90,000 after Ofsted rebuke

The number of children labelled as having special educational needs (SEN) in England has fallen by almost 90,000 in just two years, official figures have revealed.

In the news: Teaching resources - 2 August

SEN numbers drop by 90,000 after Ofsted rebuke

Fall follows accusation of schools wrongly identifying special needs.

The number of children labelled as having special educational needs (SEN) in England has fallen by almost 90,000 in just two years, official figures have revealed.

The decrease – the first for some years – comes after the government said there were “perverse incentives to over-identify children as having SEN”, claiming in last year’s Green Paper on SEN reform that schools had “perpetuated a culture of low expectations”. Ofsted inspectors have also said that children were being wrongly identified as having SEN simply because teaching was not good enough.

But figures reveal that after a number of years of consistent growth in SEN figures, the total is now falling. In January 2010, 1.48 million pupils were listed by schools as having SEN; this year that number had fallen to 1.39 million, or 17 per cent of the school population.

The fall is in the number of children identified by teachers as having less severe needs, who are then placed on the School Action and School Action Plus registers. The number of children with SEN statements – which have to be agreed by experts, rather than teachers – has remained static at just under 3 per cent of all pupils.

Paul Williams, chair of the SEN committee at the NAHT heads’ union, said the drop could have been prompted by Ofsted’s critical report, which was published two years ago.

For more on this story, see tomorrow’s TES

Related resources

Identifying and teaching those with dyslexia

  • This part of Sir Jim Rose’s 2009 independent review of the primary curriculum deals with the identification of literacy difficulties and dyslexia.

Do you have a child with autism in your class?

  • This is a concise and practical guide for teachers with a child on the autism spectrum in their class.

SEN initial checklists

  • These lists of identifiers are not scientific, but should be useful for teachers getting to grips with the basic differences, and similarities, of these frequently used labels.

ADD/ADHD possible causes and diagnosis

  • Background information to help better understand the possible causes and diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Further news resources

First News front page

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Write all about it

  • Get students creating their own news report with this step-by-step guide

What is the News?

  • A sociological and media perspective on what makes an event 'newsworthy'.

On the box

  • Help pupils to write their own TV news broadcast with this handy PowerPoint.

Structuring stories

  • A scheme of work to help students structure news stories.

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