Inclusive approach to special needs ignored

15th August 1997 at 01:00
It was with a considerable concern that I read your article "Fewer placings in special schools" (TES, August 1).

While the statistics might accurately reflect the position between 1992 and 1996, no acknowledgment has been made of the considerable progress made by New-castle's education service in addressing an inclusive approach to special educational needs.

A comprehensive review of provision for all pupils with special educational needs began in 1995, drawing upon a wide range of SEN professional expertise. Following an extensive consultation process, proposals based on an inclusive approach were published in February 1997 and are currently being considered by the Secretary of State for Education and Employment. A decision is expected in the near future. No doubt the Secretary of State will be surprised at the suggestion by the Centre for Studies on Integration in Education that Newcastle has "consistently made a low priority of the legal duty to include".

DAVID BELL

Chief education officer Civic Centre Barras Bridge, Newcastle upon Tyne

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