Inclusion falls apart in exam season

1st June 2001 at 01:00
I am writing to express my concerns about key stage 3 national tests, Year 7 progress tests and the Government's inclusion policy.

Inclusion is rightly bringing more pupils with special needs into mainstream education.

They are integrated fully into the life of the school until external examination time. Then these same pupils, who often have the most frail self-esteem and low motivation, are either told they can't do the same exam as everyone else or are entered for an exam that is too difficult for them.

Key stage 3 English in particular has no tiers or differentiation, making the paper inaccessible to many pupils. The style of the questions makes it very hard for pupils of below-average ability to answer and reflect any of the skills they have panstakingly gained.

Another example of these exams being pitched at too high a level for these pupils is the spelling test in the Year 7 progress tests. This has a reading age of 12 - chronologically accurate but too high for pupils working at levels 3 or 4.

I am sure special needs pupils should be included in the mainsteram, that they should enjoy Macbeth alongside their peers. But I am equally sure the Government should be setting tests that support these students' progress, not destroying their self-confidence.

Included special needs pupils must have the chance to display their progress as much as, if not more than, their mainstream peers.

Rachel A Jones

(Head of Learning Support)

7 Marsden Road

Southport, Merseyside

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