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Monday, 16 July, 2001, 16:18 GMT 17:18 UK
League tables for special schools
year 6 pupil
Aim is to show everyone is part of the standards drive
The test results of 11 year olds in England's special schools for those with learning difficulties are to be published in the annual school performance tables.

Ministers say it will recognise the important contribution special schools make to "raising standards and achieving excellence for all pupils".

Head teachers have mixed feelings about the move. The National Association of Head Teachers said it was "ridiculous".

The Department for Education said the results to be published this autumn would include a new average points score, so special school pupils' results could be quantified.

The vast majority do not reach national curriculum Level 4 - the level expected of an average 11 year old and the normal benchmark for the primary school tables.

"In recognition of the distinct characteristics of special schools, we would propose to report their results separately from those of mainstream schools, so that readers of the tables are comparing like with like."

Information for parents

"This reflects the approach we already adopt for special schools in the secondary school tables."

Although special secondary schools' results are published by the department they are not usually reported in the "league tables" compiled by the news media.

A spokeswoman for the department said it was a matter of giving parents as much information as possible.

"The tables are a good way of raising standards," she said.

At the National Association of Head Teachers, education officer Arthur De Caux described the move as "ridiculous".

"We are very surprised and very unhappy because we have tried to persuade the government not to do anything so silly," he said.


Although the schools' results would be separate, there was a big difference between special schools for children with learning difficulties or emotional and behavioural problems, and those for otherwise well-motivated pupils with physical disabilities, who might be capable of a wide range of educational achievement.

Mr De Caux was not convinced by the points score argument, even if the pupils did manage to make what was for them considerable progress.

"For a lot of these children the movement is so tiny in one sense - so massive in another - that you can never measure it."

The effect would be to demotivate teachers and head teachers.

"It just beggars belief really," he added.

'Part of the agenda'

But Dela Smith, head of Beaumont Hill School in Darlington, Co Durham, which caters for children aged five to 19 with a range of special needs, defended the move.

"It is really important that their progress is celebrated alongside others'," she said.

"By leaving them out it's like saying they are not part of the raising achievement agenda - and they are very much part of it."

But Dame Dela - a member of the national advisory group on special educational needs - warned: "Any crude measure in looking at progress for pupils with special educational needs is not helpful.

"If you are going to have a reporting system for schools they may as well be in it, but it is going to be very hard show the value added by such schools."

  • Performance tables for primary schools are not published elsewhere in the UK.

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