Curriculum is the problem, not special needs pupils;Letter

23rd May 1997 at 01:00
The National Association of Head Teachers says that the vast majority of pupils with statements of special educational need will struggle to achieve level 4 in the national curriculum tests (TES, May 9). Its reaction to this - that these pupils should be excluded from the league tables - seems somewhat defeatist.

This view has been echoed recently by some special educational needs co-ordinators on the e-mail support group, senco-forum, with comments and questions on disapplication for SEN students from the national curriculum andor from the national tests. In some cases "blanket" disapplication was referred to, that is the automatic disapplication of any pupils who had a statement.

The authority I work for is committed to the inclusion of SEN pupils' needs within mainstream schools. We have a parents' support centre and encourage parental involvement (and student involvement) in educational decisions. Disapplication, be it from the national curriculum or the tests, is very much seen as an exception, only to be used for specific students in relation to particular subjects. This would seem to be in line with the Department for Education and Employment's desire to reduce the instances where the requirements of the national curriculum need teacher's direction.

It was heartening to read of the parent of a Down's syndrome child, who was "very proud" of his son having achieved "W" and level 1 scores in the tests, and insisted that these results should be included in the school's entry in the league tables (TES, May 9).

The preoccupation with "disapplication" seems wrong to me. Do we have a national curriculum or are kids with special educational needs segregated from it, into other curricula?

What has happened to the entitlement for all?

Disapplication is a symptom of a problem. The focus should not be on the students and some supposed "deficit" in them. If there is a deficit, it is in a curriculum that is not truly national and in national tests and league tables that have proved incapable of celebrating and acknowledging the achievements of all pupils.

COLIN HARDY 2 Whelps Cottages Dunton Road Laindon Essex

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