Schools give up on special needs children

The Sunday Times is reporting a study by two Cambridge professors suggesting many children with special needs are bullied and teased by other pupils, with some dismissed by teachers as lazy and “lacking a work ethic..”

The study by John MacBeath and Maurice Galton from Cambridge University – which comes a decade after the same professors published a landmark study into the teaching of children with SEN – suggests the experiment of teaching such children in mainstream rather than special schools has failed.

The suggestion is that staff lack the expertise to meet the needs of many SEN children and the authors claim the situation has deteriorated.

Professor MacBeath is quoted as saying “Things have undeniably got worse… We need to take better care and offer better provision for these forgotten children. We met too many children who are desperately unhappy and whose needs are not being met… For some children it is hellish. They are bullied and teased. We saw that as we went round schools. In big secondary schools these children just get lost.”

The report also suggests that MacBeath and Galton found that it was “routine” for some children to be kept out of sight when Ofsted were due to visit and that some academies and free schools are refusing to take children with SEN because of the potential impact on results…

More at: Schools give up on special needs children (subscription may be required)


See the report prepared for the NUT at: Inclusion: Statements of intent


This is a really damning report on the state of education for children with special needs. Do you recognise the issues they are highlighting and share the conculsion that teaching SEN children in mainstream rather than special schools has failed? 

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Categories: Policy and Research.


  1. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove The headline is really misleading; story is about schools not having/being able to afford the right skills for SEN children

  2. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove Full article notes some academies & free schools refusing SEN children; new local academy openly says it will refuse SEN

  3. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove Crux of article: schls haven’t expertise to cope with some SEN; some new schls refusing SEN; access to specialist ed limited

  4. nancygedge

    andylutwyche SchoolsImprove yes, and I would propose that teachers do have the skills – what they lack is confidence and support.

  5. andylutwyche

    nancygedge SchoolsImprove For many issues teachers have the skills; whether schools can afford the appropriate provision is another matter

  6. nancygedge

    andylutwyche SchoolsImprove indeed. And whether they are supported, say, by inspection regimes, in supporting chn properly is another. U0001f620

  7. extokyotyke

    SchoolsImprove Agree with Andy. Access is limited. Too many barriers & excuses to get meaningful funding.

  8. andylutwyche

    nancygedge SchoolsImprove Quite – the pressure on results and perception of some HTs that SEN will lower league table position an issue

  9. andylutwyche

    “nancygedge: andylutwyche SchoolsImprove ‘our school isn’t right for your child madam’” I wonder how many of those being trotted out now

  10. nancygedge

    andylutwyche SchoolsImprove in suspect lots if he online Down’s syndrome community is anything to go by. U0001f61e

  11. kennygfrederick

    SchoolsImprove-a disturbing report but let’s be clear it says ‘some’ schools.Many doing a fab job including pupils with wide range of needs

  12. andylutwyche

    JarlathOBrien They actually say that they don’t have the funding so can’t accept – it was in their prospectus

  13. andylutwyche

    “JarlathOBrien: andylutwyche Name please.” If you look at my location on my profile you will be able to find it yourself!

  14. andylutwyche

    “JarlathOBrien: andylutwyche There’s a word for that which I can’t tweet.” I reckon I can guess it!

  15. AutismintheUK

    andylutwyche JarlathOBrien I was talking to a lady the other day who said an Academy wouldn’t take her SEN child.

  16. JarlathOBrien

    .andylutwyche Crucially this will be in direct contravention of their EFA funding agreement. Tell EFA and blow the whistle.

  17. balance_ec

    JarlathOBrien andylutwyche Expert advice and support on #SEN law from IPSEAcharity and JaneIPSEA if parents not already aware

  18. andylutwyche

    JarlathOBrien DfE are well aware as far as I know… Pretty sure whistle has been blown by all other local schools.

  19. andylutwyche

    JarlathOBrien If you look at media coverage of the planning and implementation of the new school you’ll realise that it’s been forced thru

  20. DurhamFreeSch

    andylutwyche JarlathOBrien Shocking behaviour from all concerned, not least of all DfE and EFA for turning a blind eye!

  21. DurhamFreeSch

    andylutwyche JarlathOBrien No, not a surprise to us at all unfortunately. No confidence or trust in any of them now…

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