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(UK) Wigan special schools see MORE KIDS WITH COMPLEX NEEDS

Aug 19, 2019, Wigan Today: Wigan special needs schools see 25 per cent rise in pupils A rising number of children with special needs are attending specialist schools in Wigan rather than mainstream education, an investigation has revealed. Research by the Wigan Post and JPIMedia’s data unit revealed an increase of almost a quarter in the number of pupils at the borough’s special schools in the past seven years. It mirrors the national picture, where the number of children with special educational needs (SEN) in mainstream schools is falling, while the number in special schools is rising. This is despite the introduction of the Children and Families Act 2014, which states that children with SEN should usually be given a place in mainstream classes. The Government said all schools should be inclusive. The Alliance for Inclusive Education (ALLFIE) accused the Government of an “ongoing attack on disabled people’s rights to be included rather than segregated from society”. And campaigners have accused schools of putting exam results and their reputations before the needs of disabled pupils. The number of children with special educational needs in mainstream education has fallen by a quarter (24.4 per cent) in England since 2012, while the number attending special schools has risen by nearly a third (30.8 per cent), analysis by JPIMedia shows. Mainstream schools in England are now the least inclusive in the UK, with only about one in seven children in mainstream primaries and one in eight children in mainstream secondaries having special needs. In Wigan, there has been a 24.6 per cent increase in the number of pupils at special schools, rising from 590 in 2012 to 735 this year. Meanwhile, there has been a drop in the number of children with SEN attending mainstream primary and high schools in the borough. In 2012, there were 4,930 SEN children in mainstream primary classes, accounting for 19.2 per cent of pupils. There were 4,350 in 2019, which was 15.5 per cent of children. For mainstream secondary schools, 21.5 per cent of children had SEN in 2012 (3,980 pupils), dropping to 13.7 per cent (2,516) by this year…. She said: “Currently, the Government’s only offer in dealing with the shortfall in SEND places crisis is the opportunity for local authorities to bid for new special schools rather than additional funding to maintain and expand existing mainstream schools’ capacity to facilitate disabled pupils’ inclusion. Parental choice is a myth - parents we know do not choose special school provision, they are forced into it because mainstream schools no longer have the money and support to implement inclusive education practice.”… “We are also working on a large-scale project over the next 10 years, which will create more school special school places where needed across the borough, including rebuilding schools where current facilities are outdated and need investment. We are also looking at how we use these places differently and more flexibly to support children to remain in their mainstream school where appropriate. “We are already so proud of the excellent specialist provision we have in place and are confident this investment will put us in a strong position to meet future demand so our children and young people get the best education and support.” “All schools must be inclusive of children with disabilities and 82 per cent of all pupils identified as having special educational needs are in state-funded mainstream schools. “Additionally, we have created new special schools in response to the increasing number of pupils with complex special education needs and are committed to delivering even more provision to ensure every child is able to access the education that they need.”…


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