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Much advice on basis of little knowledge

What have we come to? Professionals have often wondered about the quality of the advice on special educational needs to the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority, particularly after the publication of "SEN and the national curriculum: opportunity and challenge" in 1993.

Lindsay Peer (Letters, TES, November 18), a member of the SEN Training Consortium who also, apparently, has the ear of Sir Ron Dearing, visits one special school for pupils with severe learning difficulties to develop a broad view of special education. As a result of the visit she suspects that the number of children given a statement of SEN is linked to the availability of resources. In my experience, however, it is likely that pupils with severe learning difficulties would receive the highest priority for a statement.

The issues Lindsay Peer raises are more complex. There is no pat definition or test to identify children with SEN. Such children are those whose needs mainstream schools fail to meet hence the staged approach in the Code of Practice.

In law the identification of SEN has always been linked to the provision of additional resources. Since the 1980s the proportion of the gross national product spent on education has been declining hence children with SEN are less likely to get the resources they need.

The resources for postgraduate teacher education have been given to the schools who spend it on short technician-type training. Ask some school governors how many teachers they have supported, with fees let alone school release, to pursue award-bearing post-experience SEN courses in the past five years. That is why the courses have closed.


Manda Villa

Lower Broadheath

Nr Worcester

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