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Special needs flaws overstated

WHAT a pity that John Marks in his piece for the Special Needs Supplement (TES, October 27) chooses the time-honoured tradition of throwing the baby out with the bath water.

Of course the systems for monitoring and evaluating the impact of special needs spending are imperfect, but we know more than he suggests. In my authority we do know what the money is spent on; how many pupils in mainstream schools are on which code-of-practice stage; we do have consistency about what constitutes a special need - but he should not be surprised by apparent geographical variations because they are inheren in the definition.

The one valid point he does make is about demonstrating the relationship between resources and the outcomes for pupils' learning. His unacceptably long list of unanswered questions amounts to just one question. We are putting our efforts into answering that and not using it as a reason for pulling the plug on support

for some of the most vulnerable children and families in our


Colin Jones

Assistant director (pupils, students and parent services)

Education and library services

Southend on Sea Borough Council


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