Letter: Investment in special needs

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The Independent Online
Sir: In your leading article 'Serving special needs' (26 June), you suggest that local education authorities have an opportunity to justify their continued existence by their response to the recent Audit Commission report on meeting special educational needs. You are absolutely right and I hope all LEAs will rise to the challenge.

Like the Audit Commission, the North Yorkshire County Council was unhappy at the lack of precise national definition as to what constitutes special educational need. We therefore issued our own guidelines to schools to help them to decide when assessment is needed. We are already following these up with a local policy document defining special educational need and clarifying the responsibilities of schools and the county council.

We are determined that all our pupils' special needs should be more precisely identified and that these should be fully met whether or not they are formally identified in a statement.

Wherever possible we seek to meet special needs in mainstream schools with appropriate additional support, and our investment in this has increased significantly since the 1981 Education Act. More special needs pupils are in mainstream schools in North Yorkshire than the national average. We are by no means perfect, however, and we have our critics, which is inevitable in an area as sensitive as special education.

The report Getting in on the Act should be welcomed by all local education authorities. I believe it will be by North Yorkshire County Council and by those it serves.

Yours faithfully,

FRED EVANS

County Education Officer

Northallerton, North Yorkshire

26 June

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