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June 20th, 2011

£3.4 billion (and rising) -  the amount now spent annually on non-teaching classroom assistants to help facilitate the Inclusion of children into mainstream schools - according to Durham University’s  research for the Sutton Trust published in this week’s MailOnline.

This is on top of the money paid to mainstream schools for those they categorise as having special educational needs to help them cope – when many haven’t special education needs at all.

The MailOnline on 20 June 2011 records:

‘But perhaps more stark is the finding that hiring more classroom assistants has only a ‘very small or no effect’ on attainment. While they can have a ‘positive effect’ on pupils’ attitudes to work, they negatively impact on standards when used as a replacement for teachers. The number of teaching assistants rocketed under Labour and their rise has continued under the Coalition government, with around 214,000 hired this year so far.’

Note the word negatively. The English just love their understatements.

A teaching assistant’s salary varies from £16,000 to over £20,000, about double the entire cost of the education of a child in a special school – £3.4 billion cost overall, nearly a four fold increase since the closure of over 100 special schools

The Sutton Trust Teaching Guide says it all: ‘Very low/no impact for high cost’ and sets out better ways to spend the ‘pupil premium’ giving better value for money.

Thousands of children with special needs are being off-loaded on to these ‘amiable mums’ instead of being in the hands of trained and dedicated teachers and carers in special schools. How on earth does the ‘twaddle of professors’ justify this?

When will they face the sad reality that their Alice in Cloud Cuckooland dream of inclusion is clearly neither fair nor just for many children – and too expensive! No wonder no-one wants to talk about it.

The kids in Special Schools are now the lucky ones!