SPECIAL EDUCATIONAL NEEDS: an analysis of a new growth industry £7.50 from the Centre for Policy Studies

Dr John Marks

Are there really twice as many children who need special help at school as there were a few years ago? The proportion of pupils with Statements of Special Educational Need (i.e.those children with the most severe problems) has more than doubled in only eight years (from 1991 to 1999). The proportion of pupils with Special Educational Needs but without Statements (i.e. those children defined as having learning difficulties) has also risen very rapidly. Nearly 1.4 million are now judged to have special needs without statements. One fifth of all children are now classified as having some form of Special Educational Need and one-third of the total education budget (£7.1 billion out of £20 billion) is spent on them. The author suggests that the reason for the explosion in Special Needs may lie in the fact that so many pupils are not taught properly (particularly reading). He calls for the reform of teaching practices; a new definition of categories of disability; the use of more special schools for those children with severe problems; and a National Enquiry to establish accurately the scale of Special Educational Needs and the use – or misuse – of resources.



The idea that almost one in five school children have “special education needs” beggars belief… The worrying explanation is that there has been a huge increase in thenumbers of children who have not been taught to read and write properly in their early school years – leading article in the Daily Mail

The Parental Alliance for Choice in Education have effectively highlighted poor teaching of numeracy and literacy in primary schools in Northern Ireland.

Those in the education establishment responsible for the failings persist in denying their role. Who is  telling the truth? The evidence is crystal clear.