SEN education hampered by outdated cultural attitudes

7th August 2009 at 01:00
Teachers are failing children with special educational needs because of "deep seated" cultural problems with the English school system, according to a government-backed expert.

Teachers are failing children with special educational needs because of "deep seated" cultural problems with the English school system, according to a government-backed expert.

Brian Lamb's latest report commissioned by Ed Balls has found major issues with "unintelligible" statements and that Ofsted prevents the disabled and those with learning difficulties from doing well. He also demanded a revamp of training and school inspections.

Mr Lamb, executive director of policy for the Royal National Institute for the Deaf and chair of the Special Education Consortium, blames outdated attitudes for the difficulties with the current SEN system. His report claims very little has changed since the days when children with extra needs were banned from schools.

His research suggests Ofsted often ignores SEN provision in schools, and in some cases even hampers local authority attempts to make improvements.

Mr Lamb has been leading a review into SEN and parental confidence in the current systems for more than a year. The final report is due out in September.

Ed Balls has accepted all of Mr Lamb's recommendations to date. The changes include a new right of appeal for parents unhappy with their child's statement and a new duty on inspectors to specifically look at SEN provision in schools.

Mr Lamb says many statements are unintelligible and not reviewed often enough. His team also found children are rarely asked to contribute and SEN local authority staff don't encourage them to be ambitious about the future.

His team found many local authorities take a cut and paste approach to statements, using vague language or just jargon. Parents said many were often templates and littered with basic mistakes.

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