On the Map - Pupils with special needs in mainstream schools - Many SEN children kept out
How you define a child with special educational needs, and where they should be educated, have been key questions for educators and parents ever since the Warnock Report of some 30 years ago completely changed the face of SEN in England and Wales.
The debate about separate, inclusive or separate but on the same site as an ordinary school, has raged back and forth over the years, with protagonists on every side of the argument.
Prime minister David Cameron, who has better first-hand knowledge of the subject than many of his predecessors, is in favour of offering parents what they want, whether inclusion or a place at special school. But in an age of austerity, a range of options may not be likely for all.
The map shows a wide variation in the percentage of children with SEN statements placed in mainstream schools.
Some may be in units attached to schools on whose rolls they are recorded while others may be in specially converted schools adapted for pupils in wheelchairs or with below-average hearing.
But does that explain why only 16.1 per cent of Middlesbrough children with statements are in mainstream schools, while in Shropshire the figure is 66 per cent?
This is an area where decisions taken at local authority level still seem to determine the local provision. It is also interesting that of the 150-plus schools on Education Secretary Michael Gove's academy list, published after the recent act became law, relatively few have above-average numbers of pupils with SEN, and many selective schools on the list have virtually none.
SEN is a complex area, and it merits questions about why provision is so disparate across the country. Surely it cannot reflect the wishes of parents.
John Howson is director of Education Data Surveys, part of TSL Education.
PERCENTAGE OF CHILDREN WITH A STATEMENT OF SPECIAL NEEDS PLACED IN MAINSTREAM SCHOOL
Yorkshire amp; Humber: 52
South West: 49.3
East Midlands: 48.9
North West: 47
West Midlands: 42.5
North East: 38.4
South East: 37.8
HIGHEST AND LOWEST
Local authorities with highest and lowest percentages of statemented pupils in mainstream schools in each region (2010)
Tower Hamlets: 63.2
Windsor and Maidenhead: 58.1