Thursday, July 10, 2008

Special education funding increases clientele

Over at Cafe Hayek, the cheery US econ blog, a report that funding special needs in education turns schools into bounty hunters and expands the market. The increasing value of "Special Ed" brings more marginal land under cultivation, so to speak.

Being in this field myself, I hear rumours that the UK's current approach to individual assessment and funding of special needs will eventually be phased out, to be replaced by some formula for grants to schools, perhaps based on such factors as the proportion of pupils receiving free school meals. Presumably the schools will then have to be more expert in diagnosing and addressing such special needs as may exist among their intake, but I wonder whether the extra funding will be used strictly for that purpose - or pay for more computers, sports equipment, an upgrade to the Head's Lexus, who knows?

On the other hand, you could hardly have a lengthier, more cumbersome and expensive approach to special needs diagnosis, than the one we have now. I get letters from educational psychologists dictated onto their snappy little digital dictaphones, but typed 6 - 8 weeks later and finally received (by second class post) after a further two weeks. Good thing these kids aren't being treated for busted legs.

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