04 SES 09 E, Teachers And Classroom Practices: Inclusion And Diversity Working with the 'Hard To Reach' Students
This study examines the relationships between changes in the Special Educational Needs (SEN) system in its relation to changes in wider school organisation and policy in England using national data.
Over the last 30 years there have been two key policy initiatives in schooling in England. The dominant one has been the move to raise academic standards through successive policies aimed to introduce more provision diversity and user choice, what has been called a market-oriented model of schooling (Louis and van Velzen, 2012). The diversity of the school system has increased considerably with the establishment of Academies and Free schools (Walford, 2014), with different levels of autonomy. Alongside these moves has been a lesser though nevertheless important trend to providing for more pupils with SEN in ordinary rather than special schools, the inclusive education movement (Tomlinson, 2015). Since the early 1980s the proportion of all pupils with significant SEN in English special schools decreased reflecting these inclusive policy initiatives (Norwich, 2002). Since the 2000s the proportion going to special schools remained more or less unchanged (Rustemier and Vaughan, 2005). However, since 2006 this has started to increase, for the first time in 30 years (Black and Norwich, 2014). The most recent legislation relating to pupils with SEN (DfE and DoH, 2015) reinforces the choice and diversity model in emphasising more parental choice and offering more diversity of provision, for example more special schools established through the free school policy initiative.
The first aim of this paper is to document the recent trends in academisation and SEN provision in England, documenting changes in the organisation of all English schools, from maintained to Academies or Free Schools and the proportion of pupils with an identified SEN in these schools.
We then explore academies in more depth. Academies are existing schools which were encouraged to convert to self-governing Academies (converter Academies), or were required because of poor performance to become an Academy under the control of a sponsor (sponsored Academies). Eyles et al. (2018) compared the characteristics of the sponsored and converter academies, and found that the two batches of academies were very different. Schools that became sponsored academies had lower levels of academic attainment and a higher share of disadvantaged pupils. By contrast, converter academies were usually better schools with higher academic results. After conversion, sponsored academies were more likely than converter academies to improve the student intake in terms of previous academic attainment. It is unclear whether the mechanism for this improvement was parental choice or new school policies (or both), but Eyles et al. concluded that concerns about higher school socio-economic segregation as a consequence of the academisation reform are ‘partly warranted’. We wondered if the different types of academies had an impact on SEN status, as suggested by Norwich & Black (2015).
As such, the second aim of this paper is to explore the effect of converting schools to academies, on the educational trajectories of children with SEN asking: if converting schools to academies lead to a change in the proportion of children with SEN at the school level; and is there an effect of academy conversions on reclassification of children with SEN, or on them leaving school?
We produce extensive descriptive statistics on the academisation of schools and the inclusion of pupils with SEN by local authority (LA), phase of education and school type. The results from this descriptive approach provide a clear and comprehensive overview on the trends of academisation and educational inclusion. The findings have significance for national and local policy review in the context of international moves towards greater inclusive education (UNESCO, 2014; UN, 2006).
Analysis in the first part of the study uses publicly available school-level data (UK government’s statistics collection, DfE, 2017; Open Academies data, DfE, 2018) about pupils identified as SEN at a significant level (EHC Plans) and at the less severe level (SEN support). We linked these to construct a longitudinal file where schools are identified by their Unique Reference Numbers. Using this dataset we mapped trends in changing school types and inclusion of pupils with SEN in England from 2011 – 2017. Data for the second part of the study come from England’s National Pupil Database (NPD) which contains pupil-level data about all children of school age in England. For this study, we use the Pupil-Level Annual School Census data. These data are in the form of cross-sectional files, containing over 7 million records on individual pupils. Each child has an anonymised ID number that allows us to construct longitudinal pupil-level files. A naïve approach to identifying the effects of converting schools to academies would be to compare the outcomes of academies with schools that remained maintained by LAs. A problem with this approach is that academies and maintained schools have different baseline characteristics, it will be unclear whether any outcome differences between these two groups of schools are the effect of academisation or of underlying baseline differences. Statistically controlling for baseline characteristics can only partially mitigate this. Instead, our identification strategy relies on the comparison between the schools that had become academies (the ‘treatment’ group) and the schools that were yet to become academies (the ‘control’ group) at the time of comparison. The identifying assumption is that the exact timing of academy conversion is exogenous and there are no systematic differences between the schools that followed the academisation route at different points of time. We employ a difference-in-differences approach, comparing the difference in the outcome measures before and after academisation for the schools that had become academies with the difference in the outcome measures in the same period for the schools that were yet to become academies. We derive the effect of the academisation, on a school or a pupil from a linear fixed effect model as an average treatment effect. Specifically, we are interested in the academisation effects on SEN status at the following two stages: at the Year 7 admission stage (‘intake’) and during secondary education from Year 7 to Year 11 (‘within’).
The first part of the study showed that academisation was particularly rapid for secondary rather than primary schools. In 2017, 78% of primary schools remained as maintained schools, with 15% Converter Academies and 6% Sponsored Academies. In contrast to this only 33% of secondary schools were maintained by LAs, while 44% were Converter Academies and 18% Sponsored Academies. There was substantial variation in rates of acadmisation in different LAs. The percentage of pupils with EHC Plans remained stable. In contrast to this, the proportion of children with SEN support has been steadily declining. This decline has been across the country, but at differing rates. The data show that the decrease in the proportion of children with SEN Support was more pronounced and primary and secondary Sponsored Academies compared to other school types. The second part of the study asked whether converting a secondary school to an academy affects the proportion of pupils with SEN newly admitted in the first year of secondary school. We found that this depends on the type of academy. Academisation has not had much effect on the SEN status of new student cohorts in converter academies. For sponsored academies the effect was much stronger; becoming more autonomous resulted in a decrease in the proportion of pupils with SEN Support. As to the question if academisation resulted in a greater probability of pupils changing their SEN status this also depended on the school type. Both school-level and pupil-level analyses show that sponsored academies were more likely after obtaining more autonomy to take away SEN Support from their pupils. In the final question (about the school exit pattern, after academisation, of pupils with SEN) we found that irrespective of their SEN status, pupils were less likely to leave both converter and sponsored academies.
Black, A. and Norwich, B. (2014) Contrasting responses to diversity: school placement trends 2007-2013for all local authorities in England. (Bristol: CSIE). DFE (2017a) Statistics: special educational needs (SEN) Available online at: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/statistics-special-educational-needs-sen (Accessed 23rd April 2018). DfE (2018) Open academies and academy projects in development. Available online at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/open-academies-and-academy-projects-in-development (Accessed 23rd April 2018). DFE/DoH (2015) Special educational needs and disability code of practice: 0 to 25 years: Statutory guidance for organisations who work with and support children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities. (London: DFE). Eyles, A., Machin, S. and Silva, O., 2018. Academies 2–The New Batch: The Changing Nature of Academy Schools in England. Fiscal Studies, 39(1), pp.121-158. Gorard, S. (2014). The link between Academies in England, pupil outcomes and local patterns of socio-economic segregation between schools. Research Papers in Education, 29(3), 268–284. Louis, K. and van Velzen, B. (2012) Political cultures in England and the Netherlands IN Louis, K. and van Velzen, B. (Eds). Educational policy in an international context: Political culture and its effects. (New York: Palgrave MacMillan). Norwich, B. (2002) LEA inclusion trends in England 1997-2001. (Bristol: CSIE). Norwich, B. and Black, A. (2015) The placement of secondary school students with Statements of special educational needs in the more diversified system of English secondary schooling. British Journal of Special Education. 42(2), 128-151. Rustemier, S. and Vaughan, M. (2005) Segregation Trends–LEAs in England 2002–2004. (Bristol: Centre for Studies in Inclusive Education). Tomlinson, S. (2015) Is a sociology of special and inclusive education possible? Educational Review. 67(3), 273-281. United Nations (2006) Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Available online at: http://www.un.org/disabilities/convention/convention.shtml (Accessed on 5th May 2018). UNESCO (2014) The Right to Education: Law and Policy Review Guidelines. (Paris: UNESCO). Walford, G. (2014) From city technology college to free schools: sponsoring new schools in England. Research Papers in Education. 29(3), 315-329.
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