Grammar schools have been slated for teaching far too few pupils with special needs and disabilities, The Mirror reports.
Analysis by Labour MP Lucy Powell, who was the former shadow education secretary, shows that grammar schools have a disabled and special educational needs (SEND) intake of just 3.9 per cent of these children.
Yet the average across English secondary schools is 12.7 per cent. Ms Powell said the Tories have insisted they want grammars to represent their communities, but statistics fall short of living up to these intentions. Commenting on the figures, Ms Powell said:
“…grammar schools will set back social mobility and damage our education system. Children with disabilities or special educational needs such as dyslexia are much less likely to be educated in a grammar school.
Shockingly, the government’s consultation paper on grammars does not mention these children. They are being airbrushed out. Ministers should focus on ensuring there are enough excellent teachers and adequate resources to ensure all children get the best start, rather than fixating on giving an elite education to the already elite by expanding grammars.”
Elsewhere in education, recruitment for schools specialising in children with SEND needs, as well as those who have been referred out of mainstream schools, is struggling. Expert Marc Rowland, Director of policy at the National Education Trust, writes in Schools Week’s opinion column:
Despite having the highest proportion of vacancies of any phase, there is no special education element to the DfE’s Get into Teaching campaign. The most memorable recruitment campaign to date has to be the No one forgets a good teacher adverts fronted by Tony Blair, but they entirely failed to mention that pupils in alternative provision don’t forget a good teacher either.
Teach First’s only foray into special education to date (to the best of my knowledge) has been a handful of graduates working in PRUs, although many AP settings and special schools have high proportions of disadvantaged pupils. As a hugely influential and well supported organisation, Teach First could lead the way in supporting our most vulnerable pupils.