Special schools earn their place

3rd December 2004 at 00:00
Richard Reiser's letter continues to push his anti-special school message (TES, November 19). Thankfully views like his appear to be in decline as successive government reports highlight the valuable role of special schools.

Surely the future lies in special and mainstream schools working closely together, sharing expertise and resources while keeping the specialist ethos and skills that currently reside in the special sector. My reading of the government-sponsored research report he refers to (Inclusion and Pupil Achievement) seem to highlight this with mainstream schools lacking the expertise to provide fully for some pupils.

I remain baffled by Mr Reiser's continued assertion that placing pupils in a special school somehow infringes their "human rights". I think their most basic right is to an education suited to their needs, something which the chief inspector's annual report clearly illustrates special schools do extremely well. Our own recent inspection report commented: "Pupils love coming to the school and many are sorry when the end of term comes." To say these pupils are having their human rights denied is ludicrous.

Mr Reiser is right when he says "many will say we are not comparing like with like" (mainstream and special school point scores). The majority of special schools clearly have a population of pupils who are working at earlier developmental levels. Our local education authority criteria (which cannot be unique) only allocate places in special schools for pupils who are performing significantly below that expected for their age. I would be more than happy for our pupils' progress to be compared with similar pupils in mainstream schools, but the mechanisms are not yet there to do this. I look forward to the day we can do this as I am confident what the findings will show.

Tony Newman Headteacher Stanley special school Thingwall, Wirral

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