Number of pupils labelled special needs falls by 200,000

Sep 5, 2014 by

Inspectors warned many had simply been poorly taught at school

The number of children identified as having special educational needs has fallen by more than 200,000 after schools were told to stop using the label to cover up poor teaching.

Just four years ago, more than one in five pupils – 21.1 per cent – were classed by schools as having some form of learning difficulty.

But new figures published by the Department for Education show that the rate has steadily declined to 17.9 per cent this year.

It follows a landmark Ofsted report in 2010 which revealed that schools may have wrongly labelled as many as 450,000 children as having special needs.

Inspectors warned that many pupils classed as having additional needs had simply been poorly taught.

They also criticised a ‘culture of excuses’ in some schools which led to pupils being automatically classed as having special needs if they were making slow academic progress.

The then chief inspector of schools Christine Gilbert said: ‘We think schools are identifying children and young people as having special educational needs when they need essentially better teaching and better pastoral support.’

The new figures showed that 1,492,950 schoolchildren were diagnosed as having special educational needs in January this year – down from 1,704,980 in 2010.

Boys were almost twice as likely to be identified as having additional needs as girls, with 23.2 per cent classed as ‘SEN’ compared with 13 per cent of girls.

Despite the headline drop in diagnosis rates, rising numbers of young children are being classed as having special needs by nurseries or carers – mainly speech and language difficulties.

The figures show that nearly 20,000 children aged between two and four are identified as having extra needs – up from nearly 19,000 in 2013.

The trend could be driven by attempts to identify emerging problems as early as possible.

via Number of pupils labelled special needs falls by 200,000 | Mail Online.

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