The government has reaffirmed its policy of supporting special
schools, a new strategy document reveals, writes Amy
The ‘Special Educational Needs Strategy’ said that ministers see
a future role for special schools both in educating some children
with SEN directly and in sharing their expertise with mainstream
The Special Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001 said that
children with special educational needs should be educated in
mainstream schools unless this would be against the parents’
wishes or it affected the efficient education of other children. So
this allows for the continued existence of special schools.
But the Centre for Studies on Inclusive Education (CSIE), an
independent education charity, said that retaining separate special
schools would “perpetuate prejudice and discrimination against
disabled people”. It called for ministers to set a target for the
closure of all special schools by 2020.
However, the National Autistic Society said there would always
be some children with complex autistic spectrum disorders who
needed specialist provision.
The Disability Rights Commission, meanwhile, sees special
schools as appropriate for some children with SEN while the process
of mainstream schools becoming more inclusive is still relatively
new. But it called for their role to be “constantly
The strategy proposes changing schools’ performance league
tables to recognise the achievements of all pupils, including those
with special educational needs. A judgement from education watchdog
Ofsted on how inclusive a school is would also be published
alongside the tables.
SEN strategy will be available from www.dfes.gov.uk from