Pupils with special educational needs are being failed by mainstream schools, says Mencap

Report reveals that 64 per cent of parents say their child has been taken out of class or activities because of their disability
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The Independent Online

Parents who have children with special educational needs (SEN) believe that mainstream schools are failing to help them reach their full potential, according to a report published today. A survey of 1,000 parents by the charity Mencap, which supports people with learning difficulties, found mainstream schools are failing children with learning disabilities – with 81 per cent of parents saying they are not confident their child's school is helping them do their best.

Nearly two-thirds of parents (65 per cent) are convinced their children are receiving a poorer education than those without special needs. A similar number (64 per cent) say their child has been taken out of class or activities because of their disability.

"Parents feel the education service is woefully ill prepared to properly support children and young people with a learning disability to reach their full potential," said Jan Tregelles, Mencap's chief executive.

"All children have the right to a good education, equal life chances and opportunities for the future. These rights should be no different for a child with a learning disability – yet time and time again we hear that children with a learning disability are not getting the support they need at school."

Nancy Gedge, a teacher from Gloucestershire with a 13-year-old son, Sam, who has Down's syndrome, criticised support for him at his primary school.

"He spent much of his time with his teaching assistant but very little time interacting properly with his peers or receiving proper support from his teacher to reach his potential.

"Mainstream teachers are not being given the training they need and, as a result, Sam became separate to his peers and saw himself as separate, too." Since moving to secondary school, though, things are much better.

The survey revealed a shift away from special needs children attending mainstream schools. At the beginning of 2013/14, the number of pupils entering special schools increased by nearly a third among 10- and 11-year-olds.

"This marks a significant and sudden movement of pupils with SEN away from mainstream settings," said the report.

A DfE spokesperson said: "In September we introduced the biggest reforms in a generation for children and young people with SEND to help them reach their full potential. We have always said this is the start of a journey and there are a wide range of resources available to help schools deliver the reforms.

"We have made funding available through for teachers and support staff to take new classes and qualifications. We have also worked with partners including the teaching unions to produce materials and a briefing pack to help school staff."