UK: 25% of Boys in State Schools Have Special Educational Needs

The UK’s Department for Education (DfE) figures show that about 25% of boys in state schools have some sort of special educational needs (SEN), according to Andrew Levy of The Daily Mail.

The department’s data found 1.5 million children at all schools were classed as SEN in January this year, slightly down from 1.6 million in 2012.

The data also shows that nearly a fifth of all pupils are considered to have problems including learning difficulties, speech and language needs or a form of autism, with twice as many boys affected as girls.

Two years ago, a report by Ofsted said 450,000 children had been labeled SEN to cover up poor teaching. The report stated a culture of excuses in some schools which meant pupils making slow progress were classed as SEN. Schools can also claim extra funds if pupils are classed as having certain types of educational needs.

Chris McGovern, of the Campaign for Real Education, who has been a headteacher in the state and private sectors, said: ‘It’s become an industry that has grown over the past 20 years at a rate that is impossible to believe. In my view, a lot of it is to do with children not getting good teaching. One of the criteria for classifying children as SEN is they can’t read when they get to seven or eight. That is often because of the way they have been taught. It also attracts extra funding, so it is a way of boosting a school’s budget.”

The report also found that there were some parents lobbying for positive diagnoses so that their children would receive extra support such as tuition and extra time in exams. According to the report, the term special educational needs “is used too widely” with many schools using low attainment and relatively slow progress as their principal indicators.

“Inspectors saw schools that identified pupils as having special needs when, in fact, their needs were no different from most other pupils,” the report said.

All schools receive money included into funding to support children with SEN. However, if the SEN costs per pupil are more than £6,000, the local authority helps with the additional costs.

A DfE spokesman said: “We are reforming the special educational needs system so that children and their parents have more say and greater control over the support they receive. Our reforms will improve outcomes for pupils with SEN by providing better information for families, greater integration of vital services and one system for children and young people with SEN from birth to 25.”