Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

The SEN Elephant in the Room: Letters

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

The SEN Elephant in the Room: Letters

Article excerpt

I found your article "Why labels are a dead end, not a short cut" (Professional, 1 November) to be an interesting read. While I agree that the combination and severity of learning difficulties for each special educational needs student differs, I think that Garry Freeman neglected to address the elephant in the room: that many teachers are failing to recognise students' needs at all, never mind grouping them under one umbrella.

As a chartered psychologist, I have seen hundreds of unlawful statements of SEN, usually because only one area of need is identified and often this is downplayed in order to conveniently match a local mainstream school's provision. As Mr Freeman says, labels become a dead end when they divert a student from the classroom and become an excuse for underachievement. They only become useful when they trigger assessment that leads to the needs- based strategy he proposes.

While all this exposes a fatal flaw in the system, I have recently witnessed a more worrying trend, whereby students with obvious learning difficulties are being labelled "naughty" and treated as such, alienating them from the provision they so desperately need. …

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