04 SES 06 B, Trends in Placement in Special Schools
Though inclusion in education is more than the placement of pupils with Statements of special educational needs in ordinary schools (Booth and Ainscow, 2012), placement of pupils with more severe impairments in ordinary schools is a critical criterion of inclusion. This paper reports on a unique national longitudinal study of special school placement (and other non-ordinary school settings, e.g. off-site units) in English local authorities which started 30 years ago. It extends the previous analyses of special school placements analysed at English local authority level since 1983 (Swann, 1985; Norwich, 2001).
Legislation which established that all children were to be educated in ordinary schools, unless various conditions were met, was introduced in 1983 following the Warnock Report (DES, 1978) and the 1981 Education legislation. After 1983 the Centre for Studies on Integration in Education (CSIE, now the Centre for Studies on Inclusive Education) initiated this study using national statistics.
Not only does this study show national changes since 1983, but also enables analysis of changes at Local Authority level and the variation in special placement of different Authorities depending on their demographic and political contexts. Variations in provision across Local Authority have been a feature of UK (Dockrell, Peacey & Lunt, 2002; Pirrie, Head, & Brna, 2006).
Since the late 1980s there have been major changes in the organization and governance of schools in the UK (Education Reform Act, 1988). This introduced a more market style of governance and less control by Local authorities. Currently there is a renewed move towards greater school autonomy from Local Authorities (the Academy and Free schools). The analysis will be examined in the context of this changing pattern of school governance.
The aims of this paper are:
- to identify the trends in national special school placement nationally and at Local Authority level in England (150 Authorities) from 1983 to 2011,
- to identify difference in special school placement over this period across individual and broad kinds of Local Authorities,
- to examine local demographic and policy/political factors associated with these national and Local Authority trends.
Booth, T. and Ainscow, M. (2011) Index for Inclusion: developing learning and participation in schools. 3rd ed. Bristol: CSIE. DES 1978. Warnock Committee Report. London: HMSO. Dockrell, J., Peacey, N., & Lunt, I. (2002). Literature review: meeting the needs of children with special educational needs. London: Audit Commission. Norwich, B. (2001) LEA inclusion trend in England 1997-2001: statistics on special school placement and pupils with Statements in special schools. Bristol: CSIE. Pirrie, A., Head, G., & Brna, P. (2006). Mainstreaming pupils with special educational needs. Insight, 27, 1-8. Swann, W. (1985) Is integration of children with special educational needs happening? An analysis of recent statistics of pupils in special schools. Oxford Review of Education, 11(1) 3-18
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