Keywords: special educational needs, inclusive education, forms of education, UK experience.

Keywords: special educational needs, inclusive education, forms of education, UK experience.

ISSN 1392-5369 Specialusis ugdymas. 2011. Nr. 1 (24), 91–104 Special Education. 2011. No. 1 (24), 91–104


Algirdas Ališauskas, Stefanija Ališauskienė, Daiva Kairienė Šiauliai University

P. Višinskio st. 25, LT-76351 Šiauliai Susan Jones

Manchester Metropolitan University 799 Wilmslow Rd., Manchester M20 2RR, United Kingdom

The article presents the research results1 which helped to reveal the experience of the UK in applying educational practice for pupils’ with special needs in the context of inclusive education. Using document analysis (legal acts, research papers, secondary sources), secondary statistical data analysis and partially structured interviews with experts, provision for pupils with special educational needs (SEN) has been analysed according to educational practice, the educational experiences of pupils with behavioural and emotional disorders as well as those on the autistic spectrum scale have been emphasised, as well as the specifics of pre-vocational and vocational education of pupils with SEN. The research showed that inclusive education is considered the priority in the UK‘s educational system, with the following specific features: individualised approaches to the education of all pupils regardless of those with special educational needs; school system flexibility that seeks to consider the variety of pupils’ needs; full school approach to problem solving using cooperation; use of a social approach to meeting SEN, emphasising not only a solution for a child’s problem, but through reducing educational obstacles at school and using differentiated assessments of pupils’ achievements. The differentiated ways of education for UK pupils with SEN could be distinguished as: learning in mainstream schools, special classes or units of these schools (supported by a teacher and/or teacher-assistant, (in)direct support received from other institutions); special schools (support for pupils with ascertained SEN) and specialised schools (expert centres aimed at the education of a certain group of pupils with SEN), Pupil Referral Units (education of excluded pupils, implementation of returning pupils to school programmes, organising help for parents); teaching at home (pupils with severe physical disability or health issues).

Keywords: special educational needs, inclusive education, forms of education, UK experience.


The international term inclusion is used in political and other documents related to educational practice. The term inclusion is embedded in political, social, educational and psychological contexts, much more than integration or mainstreaming. Inclusive education is considered as continuous from the beginning of a child’s education and is based on the principles of justice, equity and human rights. The diversity of disability is acknowledged (Thomas, Vaughan, 2010). However, depending on which context, systems and situations of education are analysed the terms of ‘inclusion’ and ‘integration’ are often

1 Ališauskas, A., Ališauskienė, S., Gerulaitis, D., Melienė, R., Miltenienė, L. (2010). Research on the variety of education forms of people with SEN. Project Development of education forms of people with special needs. Part I. Research report. Šiauliai University, Centre of Special Pedagogy and Psychology.

used as synonyms or reflect different levels of the same process.

When educating pupils with SEN, an Report, 2003 etc.) states that integrated and (or) inclusive education is mainly determined by the way a teacher works in a classroom as well as how the school organises education. When realising inclusive education, a teacher can apply different educational strategies and models which would help to overcome differences in the classroom (differentiated teaching, tasks of different level etc).

The success and quality of inclusive education also depends on the teachers’ approach (Inclusive Education and Classroom Practice Summary Report, 2003 etc) to pupils with SEN and the resources accessible to them; as well as on a teachers’ ability to distribute these resources to the pupils in a mainstream classroom.

Resources in this context are not only educational material, teachings methods etc, but



also time needed to properly prepare tasks for the pupils consumption as well as teacher‘s competences that have been acquired while studying and during practice etc. When educating pupils with different abilities and needs (including SEN) a teacher needs more time, better teaching material and specialist knowledge. The teacher’s preparation is also important (knowledge, understanding, abilities, sensitivity), in trying to create positive social inter-relationships between pupils.

The practice of inclusive education in the UK, as well as in other European countries was significantly influenced by the Index of Inclusion which has been implemented since 2000 by the Centre for Studies on Inclusive Education (Booth, Ainscow, 2002). This document helps schools to create inclusive environments in schools and to improve school accessibility to all pupils through inclusive practice. Essential documents have revealed this in three inter-related dimensions: the formation of inclusive policy, the implementation of inclusive practice and the creation of an inclusive culture. Any changes in school should be driven by these three precepts. A significant role is given to the creation of an inclusive school culture in the sharing of inclusive values and relationships based on cooperation. This has a positive effect on the formation of inclusive policy and practice. Key concepts of the Index of Inclusion are: inclusion; learning and participation obstacles; resources, ensuring learning and participation; support for variety (i. e. pupils with different abilities and needs) (Thomas, Vaughan, 2010).

The educational system in Lithuania is also orientated towards inclusive education, therefore sharing experience with other countries (such as UK) in this context is very important.

When carrying out the research, these problem issues were raised: What is the UK‘s experience in educating pupils with SEN? What educational forms are used for pupils with SEN (especially those with behavioural, emotional and autistic spectrum disorders) in the UK? How is the participation of pupils in the vocational/ prevocational education system organized in the UK?

Research object – the educational experience of pupils’ with SEN in the UK.

Research aim – to analyse the system of education for pupils who have SEN in the UK and to reveal the UK experience of educating pupils who have SEN education, which could be useful for inclusive educational practice development in Lithuania.

Seeking to answer the research questions the following aspects were analysed: 1) the theoretical priorities and practical problems encountered by pupils’ with SEN; 2) the methods by which SEN is identified, the educational types and the distribution of pupils’ with SEN according to these forms; 3) recommendations for educational improvements for pupils’ with SEN; 4) the country’s experience in educating pupils with behavioural and emotional difficulties as well as autistic spectrum disorders; 5) theoretical approaches and practical models of educating pupils’ with SEN at pre-vocational and vocational levels.

Research methods and sample characteristics. In order to realise the aim of the research, a qualitative thematic analysis method was chosen. This incorporated an analysis of the educational experiences of pupils’ with SEN based on the regulation of education in the UK (analysis of 9 documents, and the contents of 7 literature sources)2, analysis of secondary sources (9 research reports, analysis of statistic data 3) and expert conclusions (partially structured interview). Interview was carried out with UK experts (N = 3) – scientists at Canterbury Christ Church University. Experts4 were chosen considering their experience in the field of inclusive education. Experts’ thoughts in the text are given in codes.

Research results

Theoretic priorities and real practice of pupils‘ with SEN education. In the UK, pupils‘ with SEN education is geered towards inclusive practice, which, as an ideal aspirational model, is

2 Documents, research and interview data is gathered according to the Republic of Lithuania Law on Special Education Dokumentai, that SEN pupils‘ educational forms are as follow: complete integration (inclusion); partial intergration; education in a special educational institution; home education. Educational methods are considered to be pedagogical support, organization of education and other means ensuring the quality of education. 3 Those reports and statistical data, submitted in databases were used: – Department for children, schools and families; – Teachernet; – Executive agency: education, audiovisual, culture. 4 Prof. dr. Tony Booth – inclusive and internation education researcher, who has worked in this field for more than 30 years, is an author of many publications on inclusive education; senior lector Dr. Peter Grimes –– inclusive and internation education researcher; senior lector Dr. Simon Ellis –inclusive education and children‘s with emotional and behavioural difficulties, researcher.



defined in following documents (Educational Needs and

Theoretical priorities and real practice of pupils‘ with SEN education. In the UK, pupils‘ with SEN education is oriented towards inclusive practice, which, as an ideal aspirational model is defined in following documents (Disability Act, 2001; Code of Practice, 2001; Removing Barriers to Achievement, 2004; Inclusive Schooling, 2001; etc.) and other scientific research (Ellis, Tod, Graham-Matheson, 2008; Ekins, Grimes, 2009; Ainscow, Booth, Dyson, 2006; Booth, Ainscow, 2002 et al).

When implementing inclusive education in schools, one still faces difficulties, according to the scientists working in this field (Ellis, Tod, Graham-Matheson, 2008).

Experts first of all emphasise the gaps in education policy, which manifest as a gap between mainstream and special education systems.

From the democratic and politial point of view, the mainstream education system is high level system on the right with special education on the left. Often policy informing these systems is contradictory… policy should be reformed… Education of pupils‘ special needs are usually discussed separately from the mainstream education system. A prerequisite for inclusive practice is considered <…> to be the flexibility of education programmes and the educational process, striving for the disappearance of the border between special and mainstream education. [UK1]

According to the experts one of the barriers to implementing inclusion in practice in the UK, at policy level, is the evaluation of schools according to pupils‘ achievements and not the quality of support they receive.

In England, the evaluation of school quality is very narrow, considering not the context at school but pupils‘ academic achievements, stipulated in the standards… <…>Schools are condemned for pupils‘ poor achievements. This is wrong. If teachers knew that pupils‘ achievements and their work is evaluated flexibly, maybe they would organise educational process in a more flexible and differentiated way. [UK3]

A personalised approach to learning that seeks the quality of all pupils’ education is necessary and which emphasises education‘s compliance with every pupil‘s needs, interests, and encourages his/her empowerment. Inclusion should not be limited only to pupils with SEN (Ellis, Tod, Graham-Matheson, 2008), but should also include the educational needs of pupils from other groups (gifted children, those for whom

English is a second or third, ethnic minority pupils with serious health conditions and those who experience stress in the family). Experts say:

Inclusive schools should be prepared to provide a wide variety of support to meet pupils‘ needs, and not only pupils with SEN <…>. Although the aspiration is to provide equal opportunities for every pupils‘ education, cases of exclusion occur in practice when <…> pupils with behavioural problems or children from poor families are expelled from schools [UK2].

Seeking to educate all pupils in an inclusive way a problem occurs when not all schools are prepared for that. It is very important to improve teachers‘ and teaching assistants‘ preparation to provide special pedagogical support (SPS).

Teachers are often not prepared to educate pupils with SEN, and some teaching assistants are also inadequately qualified. The majority of assistants are able to support pupils when learning a subject, but seldom consider the planning of the subject education or the application of educational strategies to SEN pupils A pupil with SEN who is taught in a mainstream classroom has most of his contacts with a teaching assistant however increasingly the abilities of teaching assistants to work with SEN pupils are being criticised. Therefore the pupil loses contact with class teacher and with the sense of community, and the teacher loses the possibility to teach all pupils, according to their abilities and needs. <…>. The social aspect of inclusion is not taken into account: when a pupils is not an equal and fully participating member in education and communication in the classroom. [UK2]

Inclusive education, according to the experts should be based on a social interactive and systemic approach to pupils’ educational problems and solution possibilities:

One should adhere to the social approach to meeting the needs, when social interaction between a pupil and school environment is emphasised. SEN categorisation often is meaningless, and more often questions like these should be raised: what obstacles one faces when meeting pupil‘s needs? What are the possibilities of overcoming them, aiming for better learning achievements? [UK2] There are some contradictions between the priorities and the practice: in schools, disability is often understood as a child’s, rather than an environmental, problem <…> the term ‘special educational needs’ should be changed into the term ‘barriers for learning and participation’ <…> i. e. if anyone faces learning difficulties at school, everyone thinks that a child has a problem but it’s not necessarily a child’s problem <…> this could be barriers created by the school or legislative system. In practice a



medical approach still prevails, based on which one tries to educate a pupil with SEN trying to achieve the ‘norm’; Most often an individual child’s problems are emphasised, but problems existing in the system are not considered as important <…> little thought is given as to how to change ways of teaching, changing the learning environment so it’s beneficial to all pupils. [UK1] Experts who took part in the research relate

the success of inclusive practice with a school’s internal priorities, when attention is focused on: a) Tolerance to pupil’s differences:

<…>one school is tolerant to pupils’ differences and tries not to label pupils, whereas other schools are not tolerant and there is a huge gap between special education and mainstream education; <…> heads of school and at least the majority of school workers should adhere to, and believe, in values of inclusion. [UK3]

b) School‘s ability to flexibly change internal policy and practice:

it is important not to correct a pupil, but change what causes his learning difficulties at school.. very important is the improvement of every school as the entity; teacher should be included in action research with which practical problems are solved… . It is necessary to act in a very creative way, not blindly follow existing standards but create successful institutional practice. [UK3]

c) Collaboration when solving problems, creating links with other schools and local communities:

<…> school culture should encourage everyone‘s participation; shared leadership is important as then decisions are made jointly, creatively; work with parents and local communities should be based on partnership; problems should be solved by everyone working collectively, and not individually generating ideas <…> best solutions should be sought involving parents, pupils, and not only teachers; teachers‘ work should be carried out collaboratively, exchanging information and jointly planning education. [UK3]

Problems of educational practice, discus- sed by the experts, show that the UK educational system is characterized by a clearly inclusive approach, but the inclusive education of pupils with SEN still remains aspirational (Ainscow, 2005; Macbeath, Galton, Steward, Macbeath, Page, 2005; Ainscow, Booth, Dyson, 2006; Booth, Dyssegaard, 2008; Ellis, Tod, Graham-Matheson, 2008; Ekins, Grimes, 2009; et al).

Education definitions of pupils‘ with SEN. UK documents on special education

(Special Educational Needs and Disability Act, 2001; Code of Practice, 2001) give the following definition of pupils‘ special educational needs ;

Learning difficulties in the UK are defined as greater difficulties than those experienced by other pupils of the same age.

Special educational needs could be identified at school level or by Local Education Authorities (SEN statements) if school and other (health, social services) professionals cannot identify SEN and efficiently meet them on their own.

Special educational support – means additional support given to a pupil (Code of Practice, 2001). It can be supplemented by health and social services sectors or voluntary organisations, as well as support by an multi- agency or inter-disciplinary team (Every Child Matters, 2003).

The following levels of support to pupils with SEN are distinguished: a) School Action; b) School Action Plus. Support for pupils with statements is usually provided at the School Action Plus level (Code of Practice, 2001).

The School action level is support provided by a teacher in a classroom, using strategies related to meeting SEN. A group meeting based on the class teacher‘s observations, an assessment of the pupil‘s achievements and information provided by parents, school principal, SEN meeting coordinator and classroom teacher an educational programme for the pupil is created, using information they have about the pupil‘s previous educational experience, their abilities, knowledge and potential as well as difficulties.

The educational programmes are orientated towards the pupils’ skills, providing for the most necessary support in the classroom. Also parents are involved at home with the programme of education using general learning strategies. Certainstrategies in meeting SEN should be included in everyday practice and consider an emphasis on the pupils‘ needs:  strategies for meeting communication and

interactional needs: creating flexible learning conditions; using language that is comprehensible to the child; using alternative communication in different kinds of situations, support in teaching spoken and written language; support avoiding communication difficulties if English if it is not the native language;

 strategies for groups of pupils overcoming cognitive and learning difficulties: providing conditions for flexible learning; support in speaking, argumentation, memorizing information and understanding abstract terms; supporting educational literacy skills; education of spoken English, aiming to improve comprehension;



formation of consistent activity and organizational skills; help in problem solving; programmes for educating gross and fine motor skills;

 strategies for overcoming emotional and behavioural and social development difficulties: creating conditions for flexible learning; encouraging emotional maturity and social competence; encouraging behaviour, which fits school expectations, order and routine; promoting skills of positive interactions with peers and adults; reduction of repetitive and inappropriate behaviour; controlling negative and inappropriate behaviour and encouraging positive behaviour; reforming the class/school system; creating positive environments based on support;

 strategies of meeting sensory or physical needs: creating conditions for flexible learning; adapting the physical school environment, school policy and processes; application of alternative and augmentative communication; using tactile and kinaesthetic equipment; providing additional professional support from professionals.

School action plus level is support provided by a teacher in a classroom (applying strategies and individualising learning content) using professionals’ recommendations, teaching assistant‘s help etc. This support level is suggested when a pupil consistently fails to respond to education, despite the application of appropriate strategies. In these cases, intervention is planned at school. An individual forward looking educational plan is created including suggested strategies and potential to use teaching equipment and materials. Parents are consulted and informed about the actions used and the expected learning outcomes. Support is continuously analysed and the child‘s educational process is monitored whilst teacher consults with the SEN meeting coordinator and other professionals.

In those cases, when school does not have sufficient resources to meet the pupil‘s SEN, support is provided by other institutions (health, social services sector, professionals of Local Education Authorities). Support can be provided as direct intervention (through group or individual support) and indirect intervention (training for teachers organised by professionals related to the implementation of educational strategies by teachers and assistants). The latter is more used in practice. An individual education plan (IEP) is implemented by the classroom teacher, according

to recommendations by specialists from other institutions.

Need for a SEN Statement. If the SEN meeting coordinator and external professionals think that they need additional information, or that the support provided is ineffective or the school is unable to meet pupil‘s high SEN, then the need for a SEN statement arises This is the responsibility of the Local Education Authority. Functions of Local Education Authorities are related to: 1) providing a statement of SEN; 2) coordination of additional support (parents, school, health, social services and voluntary sector provision); 3) quality control of education for pupils‘ with SEN (to ensure that pupils‘ with SEN enjoy full participation in school life, learning achievements); 4) providing support for schools in meeting pupils‘ SEN; 5) organisation of training for teachers who work with pupils with SEN.

Most often SEN are statemented for those pupils who have moderate and severe learning, behavioural, emotional and social difficulties, language and communication disorders. These pupils can be educated in mainstream schools or special classes, as well as special schools, providing additional specific educational strategies, educational programmes and the necessary professional help (Code of Practice, 2001).

All main documents on education in the UK (Special Educational Needs and Disability Act, 2001; Code of Practice, 2001; Inclusive Schooling, 2001; Removing Barriers to Achievement, 2004; Special Educational Needs and Disability: Towards Inclusive Schools, 2004; et al.) emphasise the need for flexibility in the mainstream school and its openness to meet pupils‘ SEN. In practice such an educational experience is based on the views of the pupil‘s, parents‘, teachers‘ and professionals of Local Educational Authorities‘ opinions and including the quality assurance process.

The decision is made whether the pupil will learn in a mainstream school, a special maintained school, a special non-maintained school, a specialised school, a pupil referral unit, and rarely pupils receive education at home.

Meeting SEN In a mainstream schoos is the responsibility of the entire school: the school authority, the school head, the SEN meeting coordinator, the SEN team meeting and other school educators. All teachers are considered as teachers of pupils with SEN.

The school authority sets policy related to the education of pupils‘ with SEN, ensures these are met with quality teaching, provides information to Local Education Authorities about



the SEN meeting, consults regarding various questions; assures the welfare of pupils‘ with SEN in the school community; provides information to parents about the education of pupils‘ with SEN; and assigns a responsible person who informs teachers working with the pupil about the SEN statement made by LEA.

The SEN meeting coordinator and team of professionals are responsible for: strategic policy concerning the education of pupils‘ with SEN in school; coordination and supervision of everyday special educational support provided working closely with teachers, parents and other agencies, giving work guidelines, consulting teachers and teaching assistants and striving for the educational quality appropriate to pupils‘ with SEN. The organisation of special education depends on the school choice and resources. According to the experts who took part in the research, mainstream schools in the UK could have: 1) Groups or units for pupils with difficulties:

There could be units in mainstream schools (for example, for pupils with dyslexia) where a pupil spends part of the time, and the other time studies in a mainstream class. There could also be groups for pupils with difficulties in a specific subject (Maths for example). [UK2]

2) Special classes: Schools decide that pupils within a certain SEN category will study in separate classes because it is easier for the teacher to manage the learning experience and to notice pupil’s achievements. [UK2]

3) Mainstream classes with support from a teaching assistant:

Schools which decided to educate all SEN pupils in mainstream classes, use the support of teaching assistants. [UK2]

4) Support provided by a mainstream class teacher:

The aim of inclusive practice is special pedago- gical support provided by a teacher in a mainstream class. Therefore it is important that teachers should be prepared properly to organi- ze the educational process of pupils with SEN, taking into account their learning needs. [UK2]

5) Multi-institutional directly and indirectly provided support by professionals’:

There is often an educational psychologist working in the school. Also services of speech therapy and other specialists, provided by health institutions. Different institutions collaborate. Part of these services are provided in clinics, part within the school environment. When support is provided at school, specialists have more opportunities to speak to teachers and parents and to learn more about the pupil‘s situation at school and to make mutual (joint) decisions… some professionals consult teaching

assistants. There is a need for schools with developed additional services where the services would be provided at the same place. [UK2]

Pupils with SEN in the UK are admitted to mainstream schools according to the general admission system, but meeting SEN has to be guaranteed (Educational Needs and Disability Act, 2001; Code of Practice, 2001). Based on expert opinion, the education of UK pupils’ with SEN in mainstream schools has to be improved because schools are still not entirely ready for inclusive practice. In striving for quality education in mainstream schools and declining education in special schools or special classrooms, it is suggested to aim at creating resources/expertise centres in mainstream schools. [UK2]

The education of pupils with SEN in a special school is also the responsibility of the entire school: school authority, principal and other school members. Parents, whose children have statements of SEN, choose the type of special school. Pupils who do not have statements of SEN can be educated in a special school under the following circumstances: if he/she is treated in hospital which is allocated to a special school, during the period whilst waiting for a SEN statement, after an arrangement with all stake- holders – parents, special school principal, Local Education Authority’s and other professionals.

Specialised schools are recommended in cases of severe communication and interaction difficulties, cognitive, learning, emotional, behavioural and social difficulties, sensory and physical disorders. These schools are considered as SEN centres of expertise that are encouraged to share the experience with mainstream schools (Directorate-General for Education and Culture, 2008).

Pupil Referral Units provide support to those pupils who have been excluded from school (e. g. pupils with SEN related to emotional and behaviour difficulties); they also provide help to their parents and implement back-to-school or school transition programmes (Directorate- General for Education and Culture, 2008).

Special and specialised schools play a continuous role in the system of inclusive edu- cation. They share their competences with main- stream schools in order to promote reintegration. (Inclusive Schooling, 2001; Removing Barriers to Achievement, 2004). These competencies include seeking to ensure inclusive education as a system, new challenges and new requirements arising: i. e. teachers‘ mobility, working in different schools / units, sharing expertise and work experience of working with SEN pupils; initiating training activities; providing opportunities for pupils‘



education in different units (attending both mainstream and special school); school coope- ration, pooling the resources, coordinating their management budget; providing differentiated assessments of pupils with learning difficulties; joining special and mainstream schools in planning future programmes etc.

Home education of pupils with SEN is provided by home educators trying to reach goals otherwise impossible in school. This education form is most often used when child has a a significant physical disability or health problems which requite intensive care.

Home education is most often chosen at the parents‘ request, when there have been negative experiences of education at school related to a child‘s insecurity and the absence of conditions conducive to assuring a child‘s health at school; stress that a child experiences due to abuse from his/her peers, lack of privacy, bullying, reluctance to communicate; dissatis- faction with the quality of the education or an inflexible educational programme (poor eva- luation of learning achievements, pupil‘s partici- pation in a activity she/he likes is not assured); delay in waiting for services, lack of specialists, exclusion from school, or limited opportunities to meet pupils‘ SEN; incompliance of religious, cultural, ideological-political beliefs with school priorities (Home Education Review, 2009; Hopwood, O’Neill, Castro, Hodgson, 2007).

Home support for a child is organised and coordinated by the Local Education Authority. Home education does not block access to specialist services in the health service sector (Home Education Review, 2009). The following are priorities in organising home education (Home Education Review, 2009):  teaching parents to ensure their child‘s

security, overcome long term health problems, teaching a child to behave safely in real life situations, to educate a child in practical situations;

 provision of special support (doctors‘, various specialists, therapists) at home or attending SEN meeting groups;

 individualised education that is orientated to a child’s needs in a different way than the unsuccessful one used at school; education without stress, taking into account the pupil‘s level or understanding and self- dependence at a suitable pace.

 forming skills of self-dependence and mutual help, skills in how to behave in real life situations, encouraging independence;

 encouraging education in managing technologies and in artistic activity; ensuring opportunites to attend professional orientation courses;

 encouraging social participation in leisure activities, activities organized by local clubs and organizations.

In summary, it could be said that the education of pupils with SEN in the UK is organized in mainstream schools, special classrooms and special schools. In very rare cases education can be organized at home.

Distribution of pupils with SEN according to the type of school/facility. There is no common pattern of distribution as this depends on the systems operated in each LEA. This diversity depends on decisions of the LEAs, different criteria for SEN statements, financing, school approach and practice (Ellis, Tod, Graham- Matheson, 2008):

In some mainstream classrooms there are pupils with greater disabilities than those who study in special schools. It is not a question of a disability level, it is a question of location. In one UK region around 6 % pupils attend special schools, and only 2 % – in another. It depends on authorities. They decide how many pupils should attend mainstream school… this is a political decision; for example, in cases of Downs syndrom some tend to assign education in special school and a child will not be able to study in a mainstream institution, however others think that, on the contrary, a child should attend mainstream school; [UK1] <…> decision as to where to educate a pupil often also depends on the financial situation of the local authority; most often the authority recommends the form of a pupil‘s education, but if parents do not agree to send their child to a special school the local authority takes that into consideration; [UK2] The child‘s educational situation also depends on the school: for example, a pupil with special learning needs might come and the school can say – ‘we don‘t need him/her’; [UK1] different attitudes are determined by a fusion of factors: attitude of schools, teachers and spe- cialists, different education programmes and financial issues etc. [UK1]

Document analysis shows that most often statemented pupils are educated in mainstream schools (51.9 %), but the majority of them (32.8 %) eventually attend special schools (House of Commons Education and Skills Committee, 2006). An SEN identification in the UK is carried out through ascertaining certain disorders and the levels of need required to be met. Although according to the documents, research and educational practice, should be related with the



social approach which emphasises an evaluation of a pupil‘s social interaction with the educational environment. In the above article, information about the distribution of pupils with SEN within the educational system is based on data analysed from research reports. House of Commons Education and Skills Committee, 2006; Department for Children, Schools and Families, 2009 et al and provided by an SEN identification according to the categories of disorders and levels of support needed.

Pupils’ distribution, according to the levels of support needed. Data from research dated 2009 (Department for Children, Schools and Families, 2009) shows that pupils with SEN

constitute 20.5 % of the pupil population, where 17.8 % of pupils are those who receive School Action and School Action Plus support. In rare (2.7%) cases statemented pupils can be educated in inclusive schools as they have considerable experience and resources in meeting pupils‘ SEN. Therefore there is no need to refer to the Local Education Authority for a Statement (Audit Commission, 2002, quoted from Ellis, Tod, Graham-Matheson, 2008).

The research report (Department for Children, Schools and Families, 2009) illustrates the distribution of pupils with learning difficulties according to the support they receive in UK schools (see Table 1)

Table 1

Distribution of pupils with SEN according to the support level %

Categories of learning difficulties School action plus Support for pupils with SEN statements Cognitive and learning needs related to difficulties such as: Specific learning difficulties 15.1 6.4 Moderate learning difficulties 30.1 20.7 Severe learning difficulties 0.8 11.9 Severe and multiple learning difficulties 0.1 3.9 Behavioural, emotional and social developmental needs related to difficulties such as: Behavioural, emotional and social difficulties 27.6 14.3 Communication and interaction needs: Speech, language and communication disorders 13.4 12.4 Autism spectrum disorders 2.7 16.2 Sensory and (or) physical needs related to difficulties such as: Hearing disorders 1.7 3.1 Visual disorders 0.9 1.8 Multisensory disorders 0.2 0.4 Physical disability 2.1 7.1 Other disorders Other disorders/difficulties 5.3 1.8

The School Action Plus level of support is usually provided to pupils with cognitive difficulties: pupils with moderate learning difficulties (30.1 %), specific learning difficulties (15.1 %); pupils with behavioural, emotional and social development difficulties (27.6 %) as well as pupils with speech, language and communication disorders (13.4 %).

Additional support in cases of SEN statements is provided to pupils with moderate (20.7 %) and severe (11.9 %) cognitive difficul- ties; and those with autistic spectrum disorders (16.2 %), sensory disorders: hearing (3.1 %), visual (1.8 %) disorders or physical disability

(7.1 %). Based on the data, it could be said that the need for SEN statements and additional support that is provided by different service sectors, is related to the level of a pupils‘ difficulties and the need for the SEN identification.

Distribution of pupils according to educational requirements and school type. School Action Plus support can be provided in mainstream as well as in special schools. The distribution of pupils with SEN according to learning difficulties and educational requirements in 2008 is illustrated in Table 2.



Table 2

Distribution of pupils receiving School Action Plus support according to learning difficulty and education requirements %

Mainstream schools Special schoolsCategories of learning difficulties School action plus Cognitive and learning needs related to difficulties such as: Specific learning difficulties 14.8 2.4 Moderate learning difficulties 28.8 4.9 Severe learning difficulties 0.7 24.0 Severe and multiple learning difficulties 0.1 14.6 Behavioural, emotional and social developmental needs related to difficulties such as: Behavioural, emotional and social difficulties 28.0 14.9 Communication and interaction needs: Speech, language and communication disorders 14.3 6.6 Autism spectrum disorders 2.8 13.3 Sensory and (or) physical needs related to difficulties such as: Hearing disorders 1.8 1.1 Visual disorders 1.0 0.8 Multisensory disorders 0.1 0.2 Physical disability 2.2 10.4 Other disorders Other disorders/difficulties 5.4 6.8

School Action Plus levels of support provided in mainstream schools is more frequent than that provided in special schools for pupils with moderate (28.8 %) and specific (14.8 %) learning difficulties, behavioural, emotional difficulties (28.0 %), speech, language and communication (14.3 %), and sensory disorders.

Special schools are usually (97.3 %) attended by pupils who have SEN statements (Department for Children, Schools and Families, 2009). School Action Plus support is provided

more often in special schools than in mainstream schools for pupils with severe (24.0 %) and multiple (14.6) learning difficulties and those with autistic spectrum disorders (13.3 %) or physical disability (10.4 %).

After the statutory assessment of SEN, additional support for pupils can be provided in mainstream as well as in special schools. The division of statemented pupils according to their education requirements in the UK in 2008 is illustrated in Table 3.

Table 3

Distribution of pupils with SEN statements according to the learning difficulties and education requirements %

Mainstream schools Special schoolsCategories of learning difficulties Support for pupils with SEN statements Cognitive and learning needs related to difficulties such as: Specific learning difficulties 9.8 0.9 Moderate learning difficulties 18.9 23.3 Severe learning difficulties 3.8 23.7 Severe and multiple learning difficulties 1.0 8.4 Behavioural, emotional and social developmental needs related to difficulties such as: Behavioural, emotional and social difficulties 13.8 14.9 Communication and interaction needs: Speech, language and communication disorders 18.4 4.3 Autism spectrum disorders 16.5 16.1 Sensory and (or) physical needs related to difficulties such as: Hearing disorders 2.9 1.8 Visual disorders 2.8 1.0 Multisensory disorders 0.3 0.2 Physical disability 8.6 4.9 Other disorders Other disorders/difficulties 3.2 0.5



After a SEN statement, education in a mainstream school is assigned more often than in a special school for pupils with specific learning difficulties (9.8 %), speech, language and communication difficulties (18.4 %), sensory disorders and physical disability (8.6 %).

Education within a special school is assigned more often than in mainstream school for pupils with moderate (23.3 %), severe (23.7 %) and multiple (8.4) learning difficulties. Around 2 % of special school pupils spend some time in mainstream school (according Removing Barriers to Achievement, 2004).

According to the experts the home education of pupils with SEN is very rare. The research report (Hopwood, O’Neill, Castro, Hodgson, 2007) found that just 01. % – 0.4 % of pupils within the whole pupil population are educated at home.

Education of pupils with emotional and behavioural difficulties. According to the UK Audit Commission, the majority of pupils who were excluded from school are pupils with ADHD, autism and mental health problems. In such cases their is organized in special schools (Ellis, Tod, Graham-Matheson, 2008). When educating pupils with emotional and behavioural difficulties there is a lack of understanding about the needs of these pupils (House of Commons Education and Skills Committee, 2006). Pupils’ behavioural difficulties are still perceived as the individual child’s problem and there is a lack of consderation of environment influences where the child lives and of appropriate interactions with her/him (Evans et al., 2003; Gammon, 2003, quoted from Davis, Florian, 2004). Many research related to recognising and overcoming behavioural and emotional difficulties have been carried out in the UK but there is a lack of a whole system approach. There is a shortage of research revealing the effectiveness of support provision for this group of pupils. Research is usually orientated to changing the child’s behaviour and the elimination of disadvantage. An approach orientated towards the environmental context is rarely applied (Davis, Florian, 2004). In this research an expert [UK3] emphasised the importance of the context, i.e. creating a positive environment at school to be able to successfully educate pupils with emotional and behavioural difficulties.

Research shows that the education of pupils‘ with behavioural problems at school depends on how they are accepted by the school. Research was carried out in schools that accept pupils

excluded from other schools. Pupils who started in these schools were not excluded later. When speaking to these pupils it became apparent, that the most important thing for them was that they were wanted at the school Scientists relate this to the teachers’ attitudes. Schools have to be positive with regards to a child and claim that ‘we need this child‘. Schools also have to create a positive and welcoming atmosphere and environments, ensuring the pupil‘s well being through small activities: celebrations, teachers‘ conversations with pupils during breaks, not only during lessons. It is necessary to speak to a pupil, to see, what she/he likes, how they feel at school, what difficulties they face when communicating with their peers and how they are affected by that. This allows a pupil to feel that she/he is important and interesting to a teacher, that he‘s taken care of. These successfully operating schools have good problem management systems; they care how to solve problems, and not to blame pupils. [UK3]

The prevailing approach in the UK is that all pupils with SEN without statements should be educated in mainstream schools. If a child‘s behaviour is inappropriate then the mainstream school should not refuse to accept him/her (Inclusive Schooling, 2001). In reality the majority of those pupils are educated in mainstream schools, and one third- in special schools (House of Commons Education and Skills Committee, 2006). However some schools consider that the only way to ensure support to pupils with emotio- nal and behavioural problems is to exclude them.

Inclusive policy systems should be open to the diversity of pupils and their needs. However cases of exclusion are common, when pupils with behavioural problems, or children from poor background are expelled. [UK3]

Exclusion does not solve a child‘s problems but only disturbs his/her education and causes long term difficulties in the future. In this case, schools need to cooperate inter-professional and to share responsibility for the excluded pupils or those at risk of being excluded (Department for Education and Skills, 2004). Moreover, alternative forms of help, the organisation of teachers‘ training and the use of appropriate resources should be improved and encouraged (House of Commons Education and Skills Committee, 2006). Summarizing, the data of the research (Davis, Florian, 2004) suggests the use of the following strategies when educating pupils in this group:  Behaviour management programmes which

encourage peer- monitoring and tutoring (Hoza, 2000; McEvoy, Walker, 2000);



 Cognitive behavioural approaches, encoura- ging pupils to manage their behaviour by self-control, anger management and self- encouragement skills. This strategy is effective, because the outcome of behaviour change is related with reduced anti-social behaviour and encouraged task-orientated behaviour (Ervin, Bankert, DuPaul, 1996; Van de Wiel, 2002; Miranda, Presentation, 2000; Rey, 1998);

 Instituting a behavioural approach (encouraging positive behaviour: reward system, strategies of reducing cases of negative behaviour, encouraging responsi- bility by understanding the consequences of one‘s behaviour) is another efficient way to encourage task-orientated behaviour (Weiss, Weisz, 1995; Purdie, 2002; Root, Resnick, 2003; Fabiano, Pelham, 2003);

 Combinations of various models and approaches (i. e. cognitive behavioural model and family therapy) which promote the achievement of change (Co-operative Group, 1999; National Institute of Mental Health, 2003);

 Parents’ active participation in educational processes. Research shows that parent’ participation and empowerment program- mes give better outcomes than the application of a cognitive behavioural approach that is orientated directly towards the child (Van de Wiel, 2002);

 Education that is orientated towards a child’s active participation in making decisions about his/her teaching strategies and approaches.

The UK Government Strategy (Removing Barriers to Achievement, 2004) provides recom- mendations that should be applied in seeking the successful education of pupils with emotional and behavioural difficulties in mainstream schools: 1) Recommendations for the prevention of exclusion: to strengthen the role of Pupil Referral Units and special schools, by providing alternative support, encouraging partnership and avoiding pupils being excluded from school whilst aiming to return those who have been excluded back into school; to ensure the quality of support in different environments and to reduce the number of pupils in special schools; 2) Recommendations to enhance the cooperation with other institutions providing support: to provide a variety of services from different institutions; to initiate intensive, short or long term interventions for pupils who experience exclusion, cooperating with other institutions; to share the

experience of educating this group of pupils with other schools; 3) Recommendations concerning the organisation of support: to give a pupil the opportunity to attend a school help centre (i. e. if he/she is under stress); to provide the opportunity for a pupil to study in a quiet environment in case of problems during lessons; to combine individual work and learning in a supportive group, learning to apply different ways of conflict management; to include pupils in a planned programme encouraging their self-esteem (supervision of younger pupils, being a member of a group where support is provided to pupils with communication problems); 4) Recommendations to combining resources: to assign a person in school who regularly connects with the pupil, regulates his/her actions, cooperates with other institutions, provides information to teachers, administration, coordi- nates relationships with a pupil; to create closer links with families, understand changes in a family which could determine a pupil‘s behaviour; to ensure all teachers are aware of how to work with pupils and parents; to ensure that all school workers share effective strategies of working with a pupil (brief instructions, giving the opportunity to choose, avoiding embarrassing language etc); to encourage the flexible implementation of programmes; to make plans for behavioural support in complex cases; to provide teaching assistant‘s help during lessons when a teacher cannot pay so much attention to a pupil.

Education of pupils with autistic spectrum disorders. The Review of research about autism (Department for Education and Skills, 2006) emphasizes the importance of the division of autistic groups and an orientation towards individual intervention (Charman, Clare, 2004); the importance of the early detection of autism and early intervention, either the need for psycho-social support encouraging parent- children interactions and promoting child‘s social and language development (Le Couteur, 2003); the effect of biomedical intervention for a child with autism (Charman, Clare, 2004). According to the data of annual reports (Department for Education and Skills, 2006), pupils with autistic spectrum disorders could be successfully included in mainstream schools. It should be noted that the education of autistic children very much depends on the pupil‘s intellectual ability. The form of education for these pupils is determined by the experience and approach of professionals, working in Local Education Authorities.



Currently, pupils with autistic spectrum disorders, in the UK can be educated in mainstream schools or special education units, also in special schools dedicated to autistic children. A small proportion of these children are educated in residential schools or at home. Usually, these pupils are educated through individual educational programmes.

Guidelines for the education of this group of children (Department for Education and Skills, 2002) discuss features common to autistic spectrum disorders as well as the organisation of support possible at school. In school support is provided directly to the child and through the provision of training programmes to parents. Support encompasses an analysis of behaviour, communication, elements of day to day routine and careful teaching. The following programmes are also applied: Early Bird programme, specific adaptation programmes, intensive interaction, music therapy, language therapy, picture systems therapy, modified Portage systems therapy, structured teaching and TEACCH – Treatment and Education of Autistic and Related Communication Handicapped Children. Peers are also included in providing support. When the need for extra support arises, pupils are sent for a statutory assessment of SEN in the same order as other pupils with SEN. All school staff are encouraged to adapt the school environment and education programme according to the needs of these children. Guidelines for the education of autistic children (Department for Education and Skills, 2002) distinguish the requirements that should be used in practice: understanding of characteristics common to autism (knowledge about the disorder); early identification and intervention; active cooperation with parents, support to the family, creating a Family Services Plan; inclusion of the child, consideration of his/her opinions; cooperation with other services when planning and implementing intervention; clear short and long-term supportive goals, orientated to the child’s participation in social life; effective education programmes; orientation to communication, regardless of abilities; behaviour management after having a functional evaluation of the child’s behaviour etc.

The document (Removing Barriers to Achievement, 2004) gives recommendations which should be considered when pupil‘s with autistic spectrum disorders are educated in mainstream schools: to ensure a coherent structure to the pupil‘s day (visual agenda, clear explanation when changing routine, close type questions, tasks); to ensure an opportunity for a pupil to learn in such a communicative way that is

acceptable to him/her (signs, symbols, words); to create work places beyond classroom borders where a pupil could carry out tasks through being helped by a teaching assistant according to a structured activity plan, preparing him/her to get involved in a classroom activity; to adhere to the visual behaviour management plan in a classroom (individual work place); to apply a visual reward system; to ensure that all staff know the pupil, understand his/her behavioural difficulties and what determines them, also to be able to adequately react to a child‘s behaviour.

Pre-vocation and vocation education of pupils with SEN. Pupils with SEN in the UK can acquire general qualification in mainstream schools as well as in special schools and Pupil Referral Units. They are taught not only general subjects (language, science, religious education) but also vocational subjects (hairdressing, administration assistant, shop assistant etc), as well as general qualifications (working skills, life skills) and basic skills, such as adult literacy and maths/numeracy (Directorate-General for Education and Culture, 2008).

Schools provide compulsory secondary education (11 to 16 years of age), and many schools provide further education (post- compulsory) to pupils aged 16 to 19 after secondary education.

The third and fourth levels at school offer general academic education as well as careers education with an assessment after the third level, to discern how well the general programme was absorbed. The fourth and further (post-16) levels offers qualifications for a few vocational subjects as well as work- related learning.

Compulsory education is completed by acquiring general qualifications. After the fourth level, the pupils‘ vocational orientation is assessed. Exams of different subjects are scored in an 8 score system (A-G). Pupils who achieve only G are unable to get a certificate. Pupils who achieve A-C receive certificates. Those who get 5 A-Cs (including a native language and maths) have an opportunity to proceed with higher education.

Experts note the following gaps in pupils with SEN acquiring these qualification, due to the non-differentiated assessment of SEN pupils’ achievements:

One problem of the education system is that the school and their quality is judged by their pupils’ performance level (learning achievements) in exams. The reality is that the majority of pupils with SEN do not achieve high academic results according to the national level of general educational qualification. Therefore



it seems it is not so important for pupils with autistic disorders to achieve high cognitive results as to acquire social skills. This should be the focus when evaluating pupil‘s achievements on graduating. An evaluation should be differentiated, to reflect diversity of pupils’ abilities and their individual achievements. [UK2]

The Directorate-General for Education and Culture (2008) states that there is a plan to change the education of pupils aged 14–19, aiming for a more flexible system of acquiring qualifications that would offer pupils different vocational opportunities and merge general and vocational training. According to the expert:

Educational programmes for children with complex SEN in the UK are often orientated to vocational training but this emphasis is not enough, in comparison to other countries. [UK1]

Pre-vocational orientation in the UK fall within the remit of the Connextions Service. According to the Code of Practice (2001) after 9 years at school, all pupils receive a Transition Plan which gives recommendations for a pupil’s, further education. This plan provides information to an institution of further education about the pupils need for support. The transition plan is based on the principles of participation, holism, support, inclusion, cooperation and involvement.

According to the experts, pre-vocational education is not organised specially or differently for pupils with SEN:

Pre-vocational and vocational training is not directly related to pupils with SEN only, it is applied to everyone. We give all pupils opportunities to choose and plan their further education: academic or vocational. Pre-voca- tional education is already organised for pupils aged 14, encouraging them to plan their educa- tion and discussing this with their parents. [JK2]

The UK document Learning for Living and Work (2006) recommends the development of the practice of inclusion. It also emphasizes the importance of improving the system for pupils’ with learning difficulties in further education.


Based on the UK documents analysed on meeting the SEN of pupils and special educational support provision, as well as an analysis of research and other resources, we draw the following conclusions: 1. In the UK, as in many other European

countries, the educational needs of pupils’ with SEN are discussed in the context of inclusive education. Diversity of educa- tional provision is emphasised as optimum

in creating conditions to meet a child‘s individual needs in the best possible way. This includes education in mainstreams schools, special schools, their combinations, resource centres, etc. together with other important factors, i. e. teaching and learning by cooperating, heterogenic and differen- tiated education, alternative educational strategies within a positive educational environment,

2. Inclusive education in the UK is considered as the priority value of the education system, which encompasses: individual approaches to the education of all pupils, not distinguishing those with special education needs; flexibility of school systems taking into account the diversity of needs; solving all stakeholder problems through cooperation; differentiated asses- sments of pupils’ achievements; using a social approach to problems, emphasising the reduction of learning barriers at school.

3. The identification of pupils’ special needs in the UK begins in the mainstream school classroom if they have‘nt been identified peviously in pre-school. When school is able to meet the SEN at the institution level, a school principal, a teacher and other professionals are responsible for providing support to the pupil. When a school is unable to assess the SEN and provide appropriate support, consultation services are used. Consultation service professionals, together with the school, parents, pupil and other specialists and services, if necessary, makes the decision regarding child‘s education.

4. The education system is based on a systems approach, i. e. a child is perceived as part of a family and the school system is orientated towards the child‘s education in a usual environment. Support is provided to the child as well as teachers, the school and family.

5. The following educational requirements of pupils with SEN in the UK are: learning in mainstream school, special classroom or units of these schools (with a teacher and (or) a teaching assistant providing help, other direct or indirect support from other services); special (support to pupils with a Statement) and specialised schools (centres of expertise, orientated to the education of a certain group of pupils with SEN); pupil referral units (education of pupils who have been expelled, implementing back to school programmes, organising help for parents);



home education (pupils with severe physical disability or health issues).

6. Special educational support is provided at several levels: teacher‘s support in the classroom according to strategies related to child‘s SEN (school action); support pro- vided by a teacher in the classroom: ap- plying strategies, differentiating the content of learning, using extra resources: profes- sionals recommendations, teaching assist- ant‘s support (school action plus); support to a child with a statement – through the statutory assessment of pupil‘s SEN and support, using resources from other institu- tions, opportunities and applying certain strategies in school.

7. Decisions of Local Education Authorities in the UK, can be different, according to education financing possibilities, approach and practice and this results in a variety of different placements for a pupil with SEN. Mainstream schools are usually used to educate pupils with specific and moderate learning needs, as well as behavioural, emotional and social development diffi- culties, and for those with speech and communication disorders or pupils with physical disability. Pupils without state- ments should attend mainstream school, and those with statements can be educated in mainstream schools or their special classroom, and specialised schools. Home education is organised in very rare cases.

8. The majority of mainstream schools in the UK are open to inclusive practice, but the education of pupils with behavioural and emotional difficulties still remains a challenge. One third of these pupils are educated in special schools (after they‘ve been expelled from a mainstream school); some pupils are educated in Referral units, who educate pupils‘ skills of behaviour management and other social skills and aim to refer them back to mainstream schools.

9. In the UK, similarly to other European countries (i. e., Holland, Denmark) the following priorities for pupils‘ with be- havioural and emotional disorders are rai- sed: cooperation of different institutions; implementing back-to-school programmes; joining resources and training of teachers; assigning a specialist responsible for a pu- pils with behavioural difficulties at school; finding out and eliminating barriers to in- clusion that exist at school; creating positive

environments at school and ensuring pupils’ well being at school; encouraging parents’ and pupil’s inclusion; implementing prog- rammes of pupil’s behaviour management; encouraging task-orientated behaviour; supporting self-esteem through group support (discussions, role plays etc); encouraging peer support: involving peers, helping to control pupils’ behaviour.

10. Pupils with autistic spectrum disorders in the UK can be educated in mainstream schools or special units, as well as special schools, depending on their needs. Pupils with a statement and receiving support that is additionally funded, can also be educated in mainstream schools.

11. In educating pupils with autistic spectrum disorders cooperation with different insti- tutions is emphasized, as well as a focus on the school’s preparation to educate these pupils. Additionally included is the encour- agement of parental involvement into the education process: active cooperation with parents, support for the family, creating a plan for family services, encouraging a pupil to get involved with the school com- munity activities, consideration of the child‘s opinion and communication skills, application of educational strategies orien- tated to a child in an environment: clear support goals, aimed at the child‘s invol- vement in social life; creating and imple- menting education programmes, orientated to encouraging communication in a way ac- ceptable to a pupil and social interactions; implementing programmes of behaviour management and structured teaching using visual presentations of information and ap- plications of visual ways of behaviour management .

12. In the UK pupils with SEN have access to general qualification in mainstream schools as well as special schools and Pupil Referral Units. Pre-vocational support is under the care of the Connextions Service. When graduating from compulsory school all pupils receive a Transition Plan which provides recommendations for their future learning opportunities. Information on a pupil’s need for support is provided to the institution of further education.

References attached to the original paper (pp. 89–90)

Received 2011 04 26

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