'Special needs education fails pupils'

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The Government must review its treatment of children with special educational needs because the current system of "inclusion" is failing thousands of pupils, according to a damning report from an all-party committee of MPs.

Too many children have been put into mainstream schools which cannot cope with their special needs, the Education and Skills Select Committee concluded.

The report found there was a "postcode lottery" for parents trying to find the best school for children with learning difficulties.

"The special educational needs system is demonstrably no longer fit for purpose," the select committee said.

The MPs delivered a stinging rebuke to ministers saying that their policy on special educational needs had caused massive confusion among parents, schools and councils.

Although ministers insist they have no policy favouring the closure of special schools, their guidance to local councils had "unmistakably" told officials that the Government wanted to reduce the number of children in special schools.

As a result of this confusion, councils had continued to close special schools, leaving children and their parents frustrated and distressed, the committee said.