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Exam reform will let down SEN students

As the proud headteacher of a small special school in London, I was dismayed to read the tiny paragraph in the English Baccalaureate Certificate (EBC) proposal document allocated to a small proportion of non-potential EBC students.

In the world of special educational needs (SEN), all the reform in the universe will not enable some of our learners to attain the EBC. Ever. Even with Michael Gove's generous two extra years for those who may need a little longer.

I have spent the past 13 years working with SEN students, helping them to develop a sense of worth which will equip them for life in the absence of "meaningful" qualifications. Often, these learners have a back catalogue of catastrophic educational experiences. It is our aim for them to be able to value themselves, for others to value them, for them to feel included, to feel valid, and that these things be attainable without the EBC stamp.

Sadly, Mr Gove was unable to accept my invitation to visit our school and tell us how these exciting new plans might affect our students, parents, teachers and staff. His assistant manager did let me know that he is "interested to read of the ambitious (inclusive) programme of study you have recently introduced". As part of the consultation process I consider it essential for ministers to take a careful look at how schools like ours experience success and to find a way to recognise students' attainment through alternative qualifications.

Clearly, these proposals are going to work for some and provide others with a clear benchmark for success. However, in working with an already disadvantaged group of students, Mr Gove can "incentivise" all he likes. My incentive is to work with my colleagues to improve the destination opportunities for this most wonderful group of marginalised youngsters, for whom being valued by society is a hard enough job already.

Vikki Langford, Headteacher, Centre Academy London.

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