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Friday, September 18, 1998 Published at 17:16 GMT 18:16 UK


Special needs services 'inconsistent'

The number of children identified with special needs has risen

Pupils with special educational needs are receiving widely varying levels of support, depending on their local authority.

An Audit Commission report has found that "there appears to be little consistency between different local education authorities in their policies on identifying needs or issuing statements".

"Statements" define the particular physical, learning or behavioural needs of pupils and say how best children should be taught.

The report also found that there needed to be a review of the number of pupils identified as having special needs. There has been a 35% increase since 1992 in the number of children given statements of special needs.

This increase has been matched with a growth in spending, with special needs education accounting for 15% spent on schools, a quarter more than in 1992.

The survey, Getting In On the Act: A Review of Progress on Special Educational Needs, examines how government policies on teaching special needs pupils are being put into practice.

Following the government's push towards teaching more special needs pupils in mainstream schools, the survey reports that the proportion of special needs pupils taught in mainstream schools has risen from 40 to 55% since 1992.

There has also been an improvement in the speed of assessing whether pupils have special needs.

But the Audit Commission concludes that "there is still scope for many local authorities to improve, particularly those with standards well below those of the best".

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