Special educational needs across two decades: survey evidence from English primary schools
Croll, P. and Moses, D. (2003) Special educational needs across two decades: survey evidence from English primary schools. British Educational Research Journal, 29 (5). pp. 731-747. ISSN 0141-1926
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1080/0141192032000133695
The article considers the perceived prevalence of special educational needs in English primary schools and changes in this prevalence over two decades and relates these to issues in education policy, teacher practice and the concept of special educational needs. The studies considered are two major surveys of schools and teachers, the first conducted in 1981 and the second conducted in the same schools in 1998. Important features of both studies were their scale and the exceptionally high response rates achieved. Two central findings were the perception of teachers that special educational needs were widespread and of an increase in special educational needs over time: perceived levels of special educational needs were one in five children in 1981, which had risen to one in four children in 1998. Learning difficulties were by far the most common aspects of special educational needs but many children had multiple difficulties, and behavioural difficulties were seen by teachers as the main barriers to inclusion. The very high figures for prevalence raise questions about the continued usefulness of the concept of special educational need distinct from broader issues of achievement.