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Green Paper Proposal for Special Needs Reforms

Wednesday 9th March 2011

A green paper is due to be published today by the Coalition and is expected to recommend better support for all pupils, improved teacher training, and changes to the way children are assessed as requiring special needs education support. The current system is been reviewed because it has been claimed that many pupils who are currently identified as having special needs, are simply underachieving because of other reasons, or are suffering from poor teaching.  Reports by Ofsted have said that in many cases children are being registered as “special needs” because they aren’t being assessed correctly.

Many children, under the existing system, are being diagnosed with behaviour, learning and communication problems when in fact they are falling behind because of other reasons such as being born in the summer months, poor teaching, a lack of proper parental support or because English is their second language. The expected green paper about to be published by the government is expected to address these issues and could affect thousands of children and schools. Ofsted reported last year that as many as 457,000 children are wrongly labelled as having special needs. Ministers have already promised to scrap the league tables that give a boosted weighting to schools with high numbers of special needs children as some schools had been accused of exaggerating the numbers. The new system for assessing special needs status is estimated to cut the numbers by 10%.

A green paper contains no commitment to action, it is intended to begin a debate on a particular subject or issue, but it is often the first step towards changing the law.


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