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Flawed by budget assumptions

What a pity that Peter Bibby's potentially valuable piece on special educational needs thresholds at local education authority level should be so flawed by simplistic interpretation of Section 42 statements.

Leaving aside questionable linkage between the arcane workings of the Standard Spending Assessment and any real measure of educational need - in my experience specific learning difficulty shows scant regard for socio-economic indices - the article makes two fallacious assumptions: * That the only resources "normally available" to schools are those contained in delegated budgets; * That, by definition, the age-weighted pupils unit includes no element for dealing with the differentiated needs of pupils at stages 1 and 2.

In Stockport, we have well-resourced and centrally-managed support services helping classroom teachers on a regular basis at our local equivalent of stage 3. The budget implications make complete nonsense of Peter Bibby's Pounds 88 per 100 pupils.

There remain, of course, some real issues for local authorities, including my own, in defining thresholds between stages. Work in this area, if it is to be any value, will need a lot more intellectual rigour than mere extrapolation from a few statistics.

MKJ HUNT Chief education officer Stockport Town Hall Stockport, Cheshire

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