Special school results are relevant

28th July 1995 at 01:00
Writing in The TES of June 30, Anne Sofer contends that the use of objective measures of success in the area of special needs is too simplistic. She argues: "In fact this is probably the one area where processes and attitudes are a surer guide to the quality of provision than outcomes."

Is Anne Sofer seriously suggesting that as long as special needs providers are seen to be trying (processes) and say they are trying (attitude), then outcomes are not relevant? Would any parent of a mainstream pupil accept this?

It is my belief that, in the past, too few authorities have placed great emphasis on the quality control of special schooling because of their view, implicit or otherwise, that such establishments are beyond criticism because of the nature of the students they cater for.

This view, where it is still held, is an abrogation of duty based on the mistaken assumption that what happens in special schools is so special it can only be understood by those who work there. It is also a grave disservice to those students, and their parents or carers, who are in no position to challenge a school about the quality of service they receive.

This situation has been compounded by the delays in the schedules of inspections planned by the Office for Standards in Education in the special school sector, and this in turn has been influenced by the same belief that teaching and learning in a special school is so very different to that which takes places in a mainstream school, additional training is required before an inspector can make an informed judgment about it.

This policy has resulted in a shortage of inspectors, and the accountability of the sector has again been compromised.


Ivy Cottage

Top Lane


Stoke on Trent

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