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Wednesday, 26 January 2011 17:07

Radio Kent, Children with SEN in Performance Tables

I gave an interview on Radio Kent (today) supporting a letter written by Sarah Hohler (Kent County Council Cabinet Member for Education) to Michael Gove urging him to reconsider the inclusion of many children with SEN in Government performance tables as they distorted the achievements of schools. I made three points:.........

1) Schools with SEN Units were particularly disadvantaged as they often attracted many non local children whose needs were such they were unlikely to achieve the Government measure of 5 GCSEs A-C Grades including English and maths. The most extreme case here is The Malling School, where the very successful Tydeman Centre for children with SEN statements of speech and language disability, currently running at full capacity of 90 children, saw just 26% of children achieving this target, below the Government requirement of 30%. Excluding the Tydeman Centre children from the data, the school is very likely to have passed this level. Dover Christ Church Academy, with the Aspen SEN Unit catering for children with Profound Severe or Complex Needs, or Autism, has a similar situation with just 28% of children reaching the government target. 

2) Secondary school transfer is fraught with difficulties for children with SEN, as some schools are discouraging of applications, for fear it would drag down their GCSE performance. Each year I get reports from parents at Open Days, who are sometimes told schools do not have the capacity to cater for their children, or another school is better suited to them.  I cited the example of  a Kent secondary school that developed an excellent reputation for catering for children with SEN, saw such children arriving in greater proportions, saw its league table position slump and then its popularity. It has now changed its profile, and is hailed as a very good school.

3) Time did not permit me to expand on my third point. Money for SEN is not ring fenced, so schools can spend it on other areas of the curriculum if they wish. Such is the pressure to deliver on the performance tables, that a few schools will divert resources from SEN to those that will have an effect on the school's profile. Parents then complain that their children are not properly supported. I must emphasise this is a minority situation and nearly all schools will do their very best to support all the children with SEN that they finally admit.

Last modified on Wednesday, 25 May 2011 08:23

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