Headlines: March 12th, 2001

The Centre for Policy Studies (CPS) is describing ‘special needs’ in education as a new growth industry – and at a conference tomorrow (Tuesday, March 13) will suggest it exists to prop up poor teaching.The right-of-centre think tank is hosting a half-day, cross-party conference on special needs at the Institution of Civil Engineers building in Great George Street, London.

The conference follows a paper published last year by the CPS from Dr John Marks, “What are Special Educational Needs?” which claimed that the proportion of pupils with Statements of Special Educational Need (i.e. those children with the most severe problems) has more than doubled in the eight years from 1991 to 1999.

He also held that the education of these children, plus those assessed as having Special Educational Needs but without Statements, consumed one-third of the total education budget.

As well as examining the role of poor teaching in this growth, the conference will also consider whether a return to special schools for children with severe problems would be better than trying to integrate such pupils.

Among the speakers at the conference is the former OFSTED chief inspector Chris Woodhead, who will be offering a personal view.

Link: www.cps.org.uk