Brave thinking on special needs

31st October 2003 at 00:00
Only the most curmudgeonly soul would now argue that the Scottish Executive has not moved significantly to assuage the fears of parents over the planned legislation on special needs (page three). In addition to a national appeals tribunal and a mediation service, parents can now request a different assessment and have recourse to a "disputes resolution service".

This is without doubt the most significant measure on special needs since the recording procedure was itself introduced 20 years ago. The Executive is making an ambitious attempt which could conceivably bring all pupils into the ambit of those requiring additional support at some time in their schooling. This, after all, was the central tenet of the Warnock report which ushered in the current special needs regime.

But considerable building blocks remain to be put in place. Widening the concept of special needs will take time, expertise and cash. And the issues are not just for the classroom. A question mark still hangs over whether there will be enough psychologists and therapists to make the plans a reality. But this is a start.

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