A key recommendation of the recent Ofsted review of special educational needs and disability was that the quality of assessment for identifying SEN should be improved. Many schools were found to be relying on low attainment and/or slow progress as principal indicators of SEN, without carrying out proper assessments, and, as a result, large numbers of children with SEN were being wrongly diagnosed.
Click here to read the Ofsted review.
This review generated intense media interest. The Guardian headline was ‘Half of some special needs children misdiagnosed’.
Click here to read the Guardian report.
The Telegraph ran with ‘Ofsted: schools exaggerating special needs to hide poor teaching’.
Click here to read the Telegraph report.
The BBC News highlighted Ofsted’s claim that schools were using the SEN label too widely.
Click here to read the BBC News report.
However, the Ofsted review makes it clear that misdiagnosed cases not only included pupils who had been classed as SEN when, in the opinion of Ofsted inspectors, they simply needed better teaching and support, but many other cases were of children whose special needs had not been identified early enough because appropriate methods of identification were not employed in their schools. In particular, Ofsted noted that “The best practice distinguished clearly between pupils who were underachieving because of weaknesses in provision and those whose particular special educational needs were hampering their learning.” (p. 24)
Lucid’s range of assessment software is used in thousands of schools to enable teachers to identify SEN correctly. Lucid’s products, such as Lucid CoPS, LASS and Lucid Rapid Dyslexia Screening facilitate objective identification of learning difficulties such as dyslexia, enabling schools to distinguish between children who have underlying learning problem and those who simply need more appropriate teaching.
Use of Lucid’s products was cited as an example of good assessment practice in the House of Commons report on special educational needs in 2006.
Click here to read the House of Commons report.
Lucid’s diagnostic profiling tools CoPS and LASS highlight strengths and weaknesses in skills and do not necessitate children being labelled. BBC News presented views of various teachers and parents, including that of Tony Murray, head of St Bede’s Primary School, Basingstoke, who commented: “As far as possible, you try to avoid labelling children…You need to be very careful, for example, making sure there’s evidence that a child is dyslexic.”
Click here to read the BBC News case studies.
Lucid’s assessments can be used from the age of 4 onwards, so schools can be sure that children with SEN are not slipping through the net. Late identification of SEN is not only more costly because educational provision has to be more intensive to make up for lost time, it also has deleterious effects on children’s motivation and self-image, and is major cause of parental dissatisfaction with their child’s school. Cases featured in the Ofsted review and by the BBC highlighted parents who had fought for years to get their children’s SEN properly identified and addressed.
Baroness Mary Warnock (chair of the pioneering committee on SEN in 1978 that set out a fundamental framework for SEN provision which, with some minor modifications, has operated for the past 30 years) has responded to the findings of the Ofsted review. She believes that provision for SEN children in schools now is in such a mess that a new committee of inquiry, or even a Royal Commission, is desperately needed to get a fresh approach to the problem. But she stresses that ordinary teachers have a vital role to play, commenting that “…it is absolutely necessary for the non-specialist teacher to be able to identify those children who genuinely need specialist help. Perhaps the greatest obligation of teacher-training is to make such identification central, a matter of routine but constant vigilance and good judgment.”
Click here to read Baroness Warnock’s article.
Lucid’s screening and assessment products enable non-specialist teachers to achieve these objectives easily and speedily, contributing to effective SEN provision in thousands of schools in the UK and other countries.
Click here to find out more about Lucid’s range of assessment products for SEN, and to obtain free demos of programs.