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Defective Academic Research

Extracts from Costs and Outcomes for Pupils with Moderate Learning Difficulties in Special and Mainstream Schools 1999

p 14 We have some generalized findings on outcomes from our literature survey and these are highly suggestive - but they do not make it possible to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of the schools in our study… For many, inclusion is a fundamental human right - not simply one form of SEN provision amongst many, to be evaluated on the balance of advantage it confers on children. It is important to be clear, therefore, that an analysis of costs and outcomes cannot properly be used to determine questions of rights.

(My italics – note one classroom assistant costs more than the entire cost

of a pupil’s education in a special school.)

P71 The state of our knowledge about outcomes for pupils with MLD is not good, and our understanding of the relationship between costs and outcomes is even worse.

P 107 Appendix 4 LEA Survey

Requests for information = 145 excluding 8 LEAs involved in the research 33 LEAs responded to this request:

  • 76% do not have any information/studies
  • 15% sent limited information but do not have any significant current studies.
  • 9% sent information or undertaking studies.

Deliver us from social ills

Published in Times Educational Supplement 23 June, 2000 - Professor Alan Dyson co-director at the special needs research centre, department of education, University of Newcastle.
We have to move away from the idea of "Warnock's 18 per cent". This definition of who is vulnerable in our schools excludes groups which fail to make it nto the special needs category - groups such as children from cultural, ethnic and linguistic minorities, children who are disaffected from school and even some able and talented children. At the same time, it creates a tenuous alliance between quite disparate groups of children who share little other than the special needs label. It is surely time to abandon this one-size-fits-all approach.
We need, for many children at least, to abandon the individualised approach that has become the shibboleth of special needs education. Children with difficulties do not come into schools in ones - they come in 10s, scores, even hundreds. Instead of a case-by-case approach, we need robust organisational and teaching strategies which schools can routinely use on whole groups of learners.
We should acknowledge that the difficulties experienced by many children arise not from their individual haracteristics but from their social and family circumstances. The problems they face are compounded by structures of schooling which marginalise their interests. Therefore, we should seek structural responses. Some of these must address broad social and economic issues. Some will have to look again at the underlying structures of the education system - such as competition between schools, and the impact of target-setting. Debates around these issues have effectively been silenced in recent years, but they are now urgently needed.