The cost of failing children with
49. The continuing correlation between children
with SEN and exclusions, low attainment, not being in education,
employment or training (NEET), and even youth crime, means that
there are significant long term economic and social costs involved
in failing children with SEN. The personal cost to families of
children with SEN should also be considered.
50. Where a child with SEN is not having their needs
met, it is likely that there are also costs in terms of the impact
on the broader education system: possible disruption to education
of classmates in both mainstream and special schools; and on teacher
retention. Evidence of the impact on teacher retention of pupil
behaviour (including, although not exclusively, pupils with social,
emotional, and behavioural difficulties (SEBD)) is widely acknowledged.
Evidence regarding the impact on the education of peers in the
classroom of children with SEN is less clear.
51. Better research is needed to identify whether
children with similar special educational needs and cognitive
ability achieve better in a special school, a segregated or enhanced
special unit, or mainstream provision. Long-term, extensive research
is not available. The limited research that does exist on this
subject is inconclusive.
52. Research undertaken for the DfES has found that
there is no evidence that children with SEN reduce the attainment
levels reached by their classmates. The DfES memorandum identifies
research undertaken by Universities of Newcastle and Manchester
in 2003 which "found no evidence of a relationship between
inclusion and attainment."
They found that inclusivity was far less significant than other
factors such as Free School Meals (a proxy of socio-economic background)
month of birth, gender and mother tongue. They also found that
"there was some evidence of the positive effects that inclusion
can have on the wider achievements of all pupils, such as social
skills and understandingalthough it can also increase the
risk of isolation and low self-esteem."
53. A recent research report from the University
of Cambridge, The Costs of Inclusion, found more mixed
results. It found that "for children who would, in the past,
have been in special schools we find evidence of children thriving
in the company of their peers supported by enlightened and supportive
staff. We also find children and young people struggling in schools
and classrooms ill equipped to meet their varied and complex needs.
For their peers, changes in teachers' priorities and classroom
management often means less time and attention by teachers to
the detriment of all children's learning." The report concluded
that "while there are many examples of social benefits both
for children with special needs and their peers, there is much
less positive evidence that learning needs are being met across
the whole spectrum of ability."
54. Finally, the impact for those children with
SEN who end up being excluded, NEET, or even in crime, is of great
concern. We know, for example, that a high proportion of young
people in Youth Offender Institutions present with special educational
needs and 15% have statements of SEN (compared to 3% of the total
There are considerable costs involved in failing to meet the
needs of large numbers of children with SEN. Moreover, the Government
has a responsibility to provide high-quality education for all
children to enable them to reach their potential.
55. A relevant example is provided by children with
autism. The National Autistic Society (NAS) describe autistic
spectrum disorder (ASD) as a "lifelong developmental disability
that affect the way a person communicates and relates to people
around them." The NAS believe that the "prevalence
estimate for autistic spectrum disorders (ASD) in the total population
is 1 in 110."
The charity I CAN say that "Children's 'invisible' problems
with communication mean that they find it difficult to express
themselves and develop the learning and literacy skills they need
to become independent adults and thrive in a 21st century world.
There is a clear relationship between this hidden disability and
later literacy problems,
and poor educational attainment at 11 and 16 years of age.
Being unable to communicate effectively is deeply frustrating:
well over half of the children classified as having emotional,
behavioural and social difficulties (EBSD) have a communication
disability too. An unaddressed communication disability often
leads to behavioural problems. This strong inter-relationship
is all too often overlooked. As a result, children with EBSD often
fail to have their communication disability addressed, with the
outcome that their frustrations continue and they become locked
in a vicious, self-perpetuating cycle. Isolation and social exclusion
is the frequent result."
56. The National Autistic Society point out that
"over a quarter (27%) of children with autism have been excluded
from school at some point, and most of these (23% (of children
with autism)) have been excluded on more than one occasion."
57. With regard to dyslexia, The Dyslexia Institute
believe the cost of failing to diagnose and appropriately teach
children with dyslexia leads to significant long-term economic
and social costs in terms of exclusions, lost earnings, and even
crime (studies have shown the extent to which dyslexia is over-represented
in the prison population with as many as 20% of prisoners having
dyslexia and related learning difficulties).
Shirley Cramer, Chief Executive of the Dyslexia Institute, told
this Committee that the estimated costs to the UK taxpayer could
be in the hundreds of millions:
"Last year we did a very specific piece
of research in the Prison Service which showed that 52% of prisoners
have literacy difficulties and 20% have hidden difficulties, and
the assessments used were very robust[...] We had £186 million
in the Prison Service, £80 million in Probation, £50
million in school exclusions, so just in those three categories
alone £300 million a year."