Successful scheme must have support

4th May 2007 at 01:00
Good practice in special educational needs teaching is rarely given the publicity it deserves. But the results of the early intensive behavioural intervention (EIBI) programme at Westwood school in Buckley speak for themselves (see page 3).

The IQs of two-thirds of the children have shot up, meaning some could be moved to mainstream schools. But the feel-good factor of this story comes as SEN - and the thorny issue surrounding legally binding statements - appears to be in a state of flux here, as in England.

It must be said that Wales is ahead of the game in SEN policy-making after the completion earlier this year of a cross-party review by Assembly members. One of the many recommendations of their report, apart from a reduction of statements, is ring-fenced funding for schools and the sharing of good practice between agencies supporting these pupils.

In England, calls have been made for a review on a similar scale (The TES, April 27). This follows a TES survey that showed thousands of children there with special needs are waiting as long as two years for extra support, leaving teachers to struggle on alone. This is unforgivable. Every child has a right to have their needs met, enabling them to achieve the best they can.

The arguments over whether a statement is the best way to do that rages on.

Some believe that children of "pushy parents" are often the ones to benefit, while others suffer in silence. But if there is need, it should be met - with or without a statement. If there are not enough resources, then more should be made available. End of argument.

But whatever the future of statements, good teaching methods must be embraced and offered to all children, not just the lucky few. So it was encouraging to hear that pupil intake at Westwood will double next year after funding was secured for key stage 2. But that is not enough.

The EIBI programme for autistic children must be considered for rollout across Wales and the UK. Not to do so following the remarkable success of the programme would be nothing short of scandalous.

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