Ofsted have claimed that 25% (1.7m) of children in England would not be labelled 'special educational needs' if teachers focussed on teaching all the children. Christine Gilbert, Ofsted Chief Inspector stated 'Although we saw some excellent support for children with special educational needs and a huge investment of resources, there needs to be a shift in direction'.
I agree with Christine Gilbert there does need to be a shift in direction but perhaps not in the way she believes. The shift in direction should not come from reducing the support provided to children who require supported teaching (and I use this term because I personally hate the term 'special needs', because every child has their own individual special needs whether they are disabled or not. The shift should be from rating children based solely on academic results and looking at the bigger picture, the child's emotional development, social intelligence (what used to be called common sense in my youth and many other factors that make up a child's development. We are not all academic geniuses (and to prove it I had to look up the plural of a genius) and we shouldn't be tagged as 'special educational needs' or given any other label on that basis. The emphasis should be on providing our children with an education, not just teaching them how to pass tests and exams
I cringed this morning when I heard the news headline because although I agree there should be changes, I fear the wrong tree is being barked up. The report will sit particularly uncomfortably with the parents of children with conditions like Asperger's Syndrome who are still battling to get the relevant support for their child, but instead of looking at that, Ofsted are looking at the other end of the scale.
Looking positively, removing children who have been labelled 'special educational needs' will unclog the system, but based on past experiences, I do not believe it will be done without casualties and children in genuine need not receiving the supported teaching they require, but I solidly believe that my own recommendation of giving children a more holistic education and not just based on test and exam results would see a dramatic reduction of 'special education needs' referrals rather than reducing the list via more testing.
It is only 7 years ago that we were told Every Child Matters, from that the Every Disabled Child Matters campaign formed in 2006. Let us not forget that every child disabled or non-disabled, academic or vocational, boy or girl does indeed matter, and not just for statistics, tests and qualifications.