Schools over-diagnosing special needs to rig league tables

Discussion in 'The Intelligence Cell' started by Blogg, Jan 29, 2010.

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  1. So, claims of "Perverse Incentives" created to get extra funding, inflate their position in new-style rankings and cover up deficiences. Great :x

    "Teachers are "over-labelling" pupils to get extra funding and inflate their position in new-style rankings, said Philippa Stobbs, an expert on special educational needs.

    She said “perverse incentives” were in place for ordinary schools to claim children suffered serious problems when many were simply dropping behind in their education.

    In some schools, as many as half of pupils are now diagnosed with learning difficulties or behavioural problems, it was revealed.

    The disclosure comes just weeks after a cross-party group of MPs criticised schools for being too quick to label children with poor reading skills as dyslexic.

    The Commons science and technology select committee said a focus on the neurological condition at school was “obscuring” a wider problem with reading in the classroom.

    But campaigners dismissed the latest claims and insisted that many children with serious problems were not being given the help they needed.

    Currently, all children are included in conventional league tables for GCSEs and Sats.

    But it was suggested that schools with low results could use the fact that large numbers of pupils have special educational needs (SEN) as an excuse for poor performance. "
  2. In many cases dyslexia is diagnosed in people who just can't be arsed to learn to spell properly. YES, the condition exists - YES, they need special help and guidance to learn to cope with their condition, but quite often it's just a piss poor way of excusing sheer laziness on behalf of parents, teachers and the individuals themselves.

    *Awaits incoming from insecure dyslexia walts*
  3. A mate of mine teaching Joinery to apprentices has recently started to deal with a class of 15 year olds from the local school, not a special school I'd add, a rather decent high school.

    He said an alarmingly high proportion of them were diagnosed with ADHD, he initially put this down partly to lazy bratdom trying to blag an easy life but was shocked to see that if some of them didn't get their meds turned into genuine bouncy walloon chasers. He also mentioned many were practically psychotic due to extended sleep deprivation brought on by nights of Modern Warfare addiction. He was actually worried a whole generation was being mentally weakened by the 21st century environment, over protected, over medicated and only able to pay attention to riveting online games.

    This by the way is in N.I. where the state schools are generally a good deal superior to English ones.
  4. msr

    msr LE

    They don't seem to have done a very good job educating the parents....
  5. Add to that the amount of chemicals we are giving ourselves in food, drink and the air we breathe, it's hardly surprising that more people are getting "disorders" of one kind or another.

    In response the the original post, and in my own experience with having a child that had a special educational needs statement (now removed), it's not just up to the schools themselves to say a child has special needs to be able to claim extra funding from the LEA. The child in question has to be evaluated by outside "experts" and undergo testing to confirm the diagnosis before being given a SEN Statement and this is reviewed on an annual basis. Whilst there is a small amount of funding available to schools without this need of proof, it's not much and certainly is not enough to fund extra Teaching Assistants to help the children concerned.

    Can't comment on the claim of using SEN children to cover inadequacies, but again, I would have thought for a child to be labelled SEN, they'd have to been proven to be so. In the case of ADHD, I'm tempted to say keep the kid off sugar for a month and then re-evaluate...
  6. on the converse side a friend with a child the same age as my youngest has battled for 5 years to get her son statmented, been told by speech therapists he was being lazy, not stimulated at home blah blah blah....finally kicked off in a major way, threatening legal action, and lo and behold, finally he's been diagnosed as autistic!! He's 10 and struggles to write his own name, and appears bto speak fluent Croatian at times. He will probably never catch up!
  7. A few points worth noting:

    1) Schools "over diagnose" because OFSTED expects about 20% of pupils to be on a school's register of SEN - as I discovered to my cost when working as SENCO in a grammar school! I refused to comply, put my objections in writing, & resigned from the post.

    2) It's not, IMO, really about "rigging league tables" per se, it's about meeting the bizarre expectations of OFSTED in order to pass inspections.

    3) Being on the register of SEN is not, however, the same as having a Statement of SEN, a very different kettle of fish with significant financial implications for LEAs/ budget holders etc..

    4) "Special Needs" & definitions thereof vary over time; IMO, the field is overly susceptible to fads/ "the next big thing". Autistic spectrum disorders were very much in vogue about 10 years ago, and it seemed every other youngster was being deemed "Aspergic". Currently ADD/ ADHD is IT, & it's truly frightening to see how many youngsters are being whacked with a derivative of a Class A drug. Meanwhile, proper speech therapy for those clearly in need is notoriously hard to come by, as is proper & timely upgrading of relatively inexpensive but technically complex hearing aids for the profoundly deaf. Such a state of affairs ought, IMO, to be a medical/ educational scandal, but it isn't because the system cares more about politically motivated agendas than meeting the real needs of youngsters with real problems.

    5) IMO, youngsters with real special needs are all too often badly served because those running the system waste too much time & money monitoring, evaluating & chasing after wasters whose only real need is for a bit of (metaphorically speaking, of course!!) slap therapy - see points 1 & 2 above.
  8. A few years ago we attended a meeting regarding a change in the law for Record of Needs( in Scotland) when the subject of Speech of Therapy came up.We were told that children whose first language was not English would take precedence over a child with a speech impediment when it came to the allocation of speech therapy. It was argued that a child with a mild speech impediment who did not receive the therapy needed would regress not only with their language but also socially. They would have none of it.
    Thankfully our child was already getting the help needed but those on the waiting list would have to wait a lot longer.The waiting list back then was long enough.............God only knows what it is now.
  9. I've got a 6yo boy who was on put on SEN last year.

    The story is.......

    Reception/year 1 fantastic teacher who genuinely picked little un as having the potential for being gifted and talented. He was diagnosed with a turn in his eye which went out and it was also founded out that his eye sight is shot to pieces.

    Visits to hospitals, opticians and talking withthe SENCO at the school we got it sorted to a degree. Had the op. Nov. 2008 which worked brilliantly, but summer 2009 the squint had returned.

    Year 1/2More glasses and visits, the school wanted to have him statemented. BUT we fought it because he wasn't and has never been special needs, he needs HELP nothing more nothing less.
    Got the teacher to agree that she would get him to read in the morning, use dark colour pens on the white board and if sunny drop the blinds, this benefits the whole class.
    The school enlarge any work that he needs to do, and touch wood everyone is happy.

    Football is the only thing he struggles with, no premiership star there. But he wants to be a scientist that works on satellites, his words not mine.

    Just so long as hes happy I dont care.
  10. The thing I find most odd is the claim that teachers are doing the diagnosing.

    ADHD can only be diagnosed by a psychiatrist or a psychologist - even an educational psychologist cannot diagnose ADHD, because it's a neurological condition that, in theory, requires several clinicians to manage it, using a shared treatment protocol.

    Reference dyslexia, as far as I am aware, I thought dyslexia could only be diagnosed by an educational or clinical psychologist. So again, I'm not sure how teachers are diagnosing this.

    Without a report from these professionals, then LEAs will not recognise the child as having a disorder, so this story seems odd to me. Even the final quote at the bottom of the page defending teachers for diagnosing - it's nonsense, teachers do not diagnose.

    Although my girlfriend researches dyslexia, and she has commented that she has occasionally felt that some individuals have been misdiagnosed, so I don't doubt it happens. But then that happens in medicine, too.
  11. Although I agree it's very easy to misdiagnose ADHD, insomnia is a recognised part of the disorder. Video games can also have a tendency to be abused because they have the same effect, chemically, as the medications used to treat ADHD.

    Although that doesn't excuse the parents from allowing the kids to have video-games etc, in their bedrooms.
  12. The Telegraph article is a rehash of one in the Times Educational Supplement. The thrust of this article is to criticize the perverse incentives in school funding and value-added ranking that leads to "over-labelling". Stobbs does also say "laziness" by teachers contributed to this, but this view is contradicted by Jean Gross, the Govt's speech and language tsar who thinks it is an indication of teachers' worries about children how they can intervene; she also blames funding and administrative procedures, and worries about perverse outcomes as SEN children work more frequently with teaching assistants and recent research shows that the more children work with support staff the worse their attainment in core subjects. [I'm not too sure which way cause and effect works in that].

    In UK there are about 117,000 children with SEN and 23,000 have statements. Only 25% of those with SEN get 5 good GCSE (compare to 74% of non-SEN). 46 schools have 50% or more pupils classed as SEN: the proportion is between a third and a half in 8% (227) scoops and a quarter in 17%. In one PRU, all pupils were classed as SEN.
  13. my daughter has a mild form of autism luckily we live in brighton which is so PC it hurts but does have a good autism service so is progressing well very bright but slightly inflexible.

    wants to be a copper nightmare very bright see things in black and white enjoys follwing rules beware :twisted:
  14. "The thing I find most odd Is the claim that the teachers are doing the diagnosing. ............... Without a report from these professionals, then LEAs will not recognize the child as having a disorder, ......"

    AmazingLobster is completely correct and this is why only a fraction of SEN children are formally statemented. The others are this classified based on teachers' assessments. It does not attract dedicated funding in the same way for individual diagnosed children, but does alter the school's profile for contextual ranking and wider funding (eg buds for more TAs). The cost of an educational psych statement is an issue in this: it can run to a few hundred pounds and many families are unwilling/unable to afford this, and LEAs don't necessarily cough up easily.
  15. You're absolutely right, amazing_lobster.

    Think "diagnose" was being used generically here - and inappropriately! - when, in fact, "identify cause for concern" should have been used.

    That said, I'm afraid OFSTED tends rather to confuse things: often terms like "diagnose" are used with ref to SENCOs' duties. I was asked what I did to "diagnose" schizophrenia in pupils, ffs! My reply that schizophrenia is a medical condition, diagnosis of which is, to say the least, hotly contested, and may only legitimately be made by a psychiatrist ( ie medically qualified person with specialist training in psychiatry/ mental health) went down like a fart in a spacesuit.

    I pointed out that my job spec included identifying youngsters whose behaviour was giving concern, and - if necessary - referring them to ed psychs for proper assessment. If/ when a pupil's behaviour was truly disturbing it was the job of ed psych and/ or GP to refer for psychiatric assessment. My answer was deemed "unacceptable": in her view it was my main role to "diagnose" youngsters who might be depressed, psychotic etc!

    It should be noted that this inspector also criticised the Head of Music because pupils failed to "move in time with the music" whilst listening to recordings! The woman was clearly bonkers, and to be fair, the Reggie (Registered Inspector i/c the Inspection Team) did listen to the various complaints lodged & she didn't appear around school for the latter half of the week - this was when inspections lasted a whole week.

    That said, I've subsequently experienced 3 more OFSTED inspections, and in each case the teams have invariably contained inspectors who really were not in touch with reality and had bizarre notions about many aspects of school life. OFSTED really is a repository of oddballs, freaks & plumbsuckers, and more often than not the worst cases will be those with specific responsibility for/ interest in Special Needs.