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Lichfield dyslexia expert says Ofsted special needs report doesn’t go far enough

The founder of a school for dyslexic children in Lichfield has called for a “shake-up” of the system after claims that some educational institutions may be unnecesarily branding students as special needs.

Ofsted has claimed that better teaching and support would reduce the number of students being placed under the banner of special needs.

The report by the teaching watchdog has come under fire from the National Union of Students.

Dr Neville Brown

Dr Neville Brown

But Dr Neville Brown, the man behind The Foundation for the Education of the Underachieving and Dyslexic and Maple Hayes Dyslexia School in Lichfield, believes that the situation is far worse than Ofsted has highlighted – and has branded the actions of some schools “a scam”.

He said:

“Whilst I absolutely agree with Ofsted report, the situation is even worse than they report it. If the umpteen thousands of youngsters who benefit from elaborate exam concessions – which certainly enhance the schools’ rating in the league tables – are so bad, then they should have statements of their Special Educational Needs (SEN).

“My opinion is that if they don’t have statements then they should not have any concessions in mainstream schools: it is nothing short of a scam.”

In their report, Ofsted claimed that the use of SEN was too widespread.

And Dr Brown believes that teaching methods – particularly in the area of illiterate children – need to be revised.

He explained:

“The methods heavily promoted and prescribed by the last government do no suit all children. After the illiterate, the next most populous group of SEN in mainstream schools is the autistics – however the 20 per cent recorded as leaving school without any worthwhile qualifications, correlates with a similar figure of 20 per cent who fail to achieve at Key Stage 2 and also correlates well with the 20 per cent who are labelled SEN.

“The situation regarding the teaching of relatively few of the illiterates who manage to obtain a statement of their SEN is even more horrendous. Specialist teaching is widely abandoned in statements in favour of a few meager hours a week with an unqualified teaching assistant.

“Those most in need get the least professional help, presumably because they won’t influence the league tables much for their schools, whereas if parents went to tribunal to improve the statement they would typically get at least five hours specialist teaching and 15 hours support from a teaching assistant in all literacy-based lessons.

“The whole system needs a damn good shake-up.”

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