Are UK summer born children being wrongly labelled as having SEN?

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UK Schools Minister Nick Gibb has raised fresh concerns that summer born children are being disproportionately identified as having special educational needs (SEN).

The issue is raised in a letter to Neil Carmichael, the Chair of Parliament’s Education Committee, dated 1 July.

The issue of summer born children was previously raised at an Education Committee hearing in March of this year. Gibb agreed at the time to provide further information on a number of issues raised by Committee members.

In his follow-up letter Gibb reminds members that the statutory definition of SEN includes children who have a significantly greater difficulty in learning than the majority of children of the same age and that SEN provision is defined as ‘educational provision that is additional to, or different from, that made generally for others of the same age’.

‘Summer born children are likely to be behind their peers in their development simply by virtue of being younger than them,’ he says. ‘It appears that many schools may consequently have identified them as having SEN.’

The letter reminds members that school guidance makes clear that slow progress should not automatically lead to children being recorded as having SEN and that schools are expected to consider alternative steps if a pupil is not making expected progress.

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Special World, from Inclusive Technology, is a free website linking 125,000 special education teachers, speech therapists and occupational therapists in 150 countries. Special World readers and contributors work with children who have additional needs or special educational needs including those with severe, profound and multiple learning difficulties and disabilities.

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