The Education reform Act of 1988 marks an historic and radical revision of education in England and Wales based on an ideology starkly at odds with that which guided the system’s development in the previous four decades (Cor, 1996). The reliance on market forces as a mechanism of quality control and the unprecedented degree of centralized control of the curriculum, for instance, are principles calling for revolutionary changes in the way teachers operate. Their impact has been made more difficult to assimilate by the speed with which these policies are introduces and there political sponsors refusals to acknowledge what may educationists have argued are potentially dangerous implications. And also in this, special education is not only reflected as a broader educational concept but also as a broader social and political concept. (Len, 1988). Special educational needs are defined in the 1993 Education Act as learning difficulties that call for special provision besides that routinely provided in mainstream schools (1993 Act, para 156). If what is provided routinely does not meet the child’s learning needs then a statement of SEN, specifying additional resources will be required. The inexorable rise in the number of children with statements, combined with increasingly high levels of parental expectations concerning special educational needs provision, has led to demands on the founders, the Local Education Authorities (LEAs) which can no longer be met (Ann, 1997).
met (Ann, 1997). Recognizing this, the 1993 Education Act proposed a Code of
Practice to clarify what special educational needs provision should be made
generally available in mainstream schools.
Children with special educational needs form a
substantial minority of the primary school population. The Warnock Report (DES,
1978) suggested that 20 percent of children will have special educational needs at
some time during their school careers. This figure, derived from standardized test
and survey data, has been criticized as arbitrary and self-fulfilling but is supported
by a wide range of research evidence (e.g. Croll and Moses, 1985; Mortimore et
al. 1988; Shorrocks et al, 1992). Thus children with a variety of special
educational need form a significant group and one that may draw
disproportionately on scarce educational resources.
To be precise, in 2005 around 18% of all pupils
in school in England were categorized as having some sort of special educational
need (SEN) (1.5 million children) (Ann, 1997). Around 3% of all children
(250,000) had a statement of SEN and around 1% of all children were in special
schools (90,000) - which represents approximately one third of children with
statements. With such a large number of children involved, it is important to
recognize that many children are receiving the education they need in an
appropriate setting. It is equally important, however, to highlight the difficulties
faced by a large number of parents for whom the system is failing to meet the
needs of their children.
The influence of the Warnock Report was not
restricted to a new conceptualization of special educational needs; it also made
wide - ranging recommendations about the way in which special educational
provision should be developed. The Committee argued that the provision should
be seen as 'additional or supplementary" rather than 'separate or alternative' to
regular education, and described a continuum of settings in which it might take
place. For most children, their needs would be met in ordinary classrooms, with
additional support as required. The Warnock Committee (DES, 1978) heralded a