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More access for the less able

Pupils with special educational needs will be offered greater opportunities by the level descriptions which are used to assess their progress through the curriculum, said teachers responding to the consultation exercise. However, they stressed the importance of finding ways to accredit children who only advance slowly.

The School Curriculum and Assessment Authority has taken these concerns on board, and is considering how a survey of SEN good practice, carried out on its behalf by the National Foundation for Educational Research, can help.

SENteachers found the information on access to the curriculum in the new Orders helpful. Almost two-thirds of KS3 and 4 respondents welcomed the statements.

Some teachers of pupils with severe learning difficulties continued to question the relevance of subject-based work for their children. However, respondents recognised that the programmes of study provided a broad range of opportunities for development.

Able pupils: teachers will be able to choose material from earlier or later key stages to help pupils progress. Those who responded to the consultation welcomed the section on access to the curriculum, but groups representing exceptionally able pupils would have liked a separate statement.

English across the curriculum: all the Orders, apart from English, contain a paragraph on "use of language". It says pupils should be taught to express themselves clearly in both speech and writing and to develop their reading skills.

Information technology: all the Orders, apart from the IT Order itself, include a paragraph on the importance of IT.

Wales : the common requirements for English, maths, science, design and technology, IT and PE also contain a paragraph on Wales. It says that pupils in Wales should be given opportunities in each subject to develop their knowledge of the cultural, economic, environmental, historical and linguistic characteristics of the principality. Wales has separate Orders for history, geography, art and music, as well as Welsh.

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