Nav: Home

UK special school pupils 'treated differently', following removal of standardized assessments

February 23, 2020

Following the recent withdrawal of standardized assessments, children with intellectual disabilities at special schools in the UK are again being treated differently to children at mainstream schools, says a new study from researchers at The Open University.

Published in Disability & Society, the peer-reviewed research shows there is currently no national progress levels for children with severe or profound intellectual disabilities - meaning teachers have no standardized way of tracking the development of students in both academic and non-academic learning areas.

As in many countries, the intellectual and academic progress of pupils at UK schools is assessed using standardized, nationwide tests given at specific ages (for primary school pupils in the UK, these tests are given at age seven and 11). But these tests are not suitable for pupils with severe intellectual disabilities being taught in special schools, as these pupils will be operating far below the levels being tested.

Because pupils with severe intellectual disabilities should still make progress over time, their progress needs to be assessed just like pupils in mainstream schools, both to determine what kind of continuing support they need and to show at what level a pupil is working if they change schools. Until recently, the progress of children with severe intellectual disabilities was determined via standardized assessments known as Pre-National Curriculum Performance Levels, or P-levels, which were specially designed for pupils working below the level of the standard tests and assessments.

In 2016, however, a review of P-levels concluded they were no longer fit for purpose, because they were too restricted and limited to assess the complex difficulties associated with many children in special schools. This caused the UK government to discontinue P-levels for all but pupils with the most profound intellectual disabilities and instead ask special schools to develop their own assessment programmes.

According to lead researcher Elizabeth Smith, although this move did allow schools to tailor their assessments to the specific needs and abilities of their pupils, it has also created lots of problems and placed extra burdens on the schools. She and her colleagues argue that these downsides have not been properly considered.

"While some teachers welcome the chance to re-organise or design a new curriculum and associated assessments, many teachers are left perplexed and exasperated by the fact that they have no statutory guidelines or framework to work with and are expected to create their own," says Smith.

"And if schools are creating their own assessments, how can they ensure these systems are not just viewpoints or opinions but are valid assessment frameworks grounded in theory? With each school creating their own assessments, it will also be difficult for them to know at what level a pupil joining from a different school is working at."

Smith and her colleagues further argue that the abandonment of P-levels shows that special schools and their pupils are still viewed and treated very differently.

"This would never happen in mainstream schools, so why are special schoolteachers being left to cope with all this extra work without the time and resources to do so?" she says.

"Despite governments' policies promoting equality amongst all children and the need for inclusion of all, children in special schools are again being treated as 'other'."
-end-


Taylor & Francis Group

Related Children Articles:

How many children is enough?
Most Russians would like to have two children: a boy and a girl.
Preterm children have similar temperament to children who were institutionally deprived
A child's temperament is affected by the early stages of their life.
Only-children more likely to be obese than children with siblings
Families with multiple children tend to make more healthy eating decisions than families with a single child.
Children living in countryside outperform children living in metropolitan area in motor skills
Residential density is related to children's motor skills, engagement in outdoor play and organised sports. that Finnish children living in the countryside spent more time outdoors and had better motor skills than their age peers in the metropolitan area.
Hispanic and black children more likely to miss school due to eczema than white children
In a study that highlights racial disparities in the everyday impact of eczema, new research shows Hispanic and black children are more likely than white children to miss school due to the chronic skin disease.
Children, their parents, and health professionals often underestimate children's higher weight status
More than half of parents underestimated their children's classification as overweight or obese -- children themselves and health professionals also share this misperception, according to new research being presented at this year's European Congress on Obesity (ECO) in Glasgow, UK (April 28-May 1).
Children with autism are in 'in-tune' with mom's feelings like other children
New research addresses limitations of prior autism spectrum disorder (ASD) studies on facial emotion recognition by using five distinct facial emotions in unfamiliar and familiar (mom) faces to test the influence of familiarity in children with and without ASD.
First Nations children and youth experiencing more pain than non-First Nations children
First Nations children and youth are experiencing more pain than non-First Nations children, but do not access specialist or mental health services at the same rate as their non-First Nations peers, found new research published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).
Grandparents: Raising their children's children, they get the job done
Millions of children are being raised solely by their grandparents, with numbers continuing to climb as the opioid crisis and other factors disrupt families.
How do you assess pain in children who can't express themselves? New research identifies priorities in identifying pain in nonverbal children with medical complexity
Pain is a frequent problem for children with complex medical conditions -- but many of them are unable to communicate their pain verbally.
More Children News and Children Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: Reinvention
Change is hard, but it's also an opportunity to discover and reimagine what you thought you knew. From our economy, to music, to even ourselves–this hour TED speakers explore the power of reinvention. Guests include OK Go lead singer Damian Kulash Jr., former college gymnastics coach Valorie Kondos Field, Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs, and entrepreneur Nick Hanauer.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dispatch 6: Strange Times
Covid has disrupted the most basic routines of our days and nights. But in the middle of a conversation about how to fight the virus, we find a place impervious to the stalled plans and frenetic demands of the outside world. It's a very different kind of front line, where urgent work means moving slow, and time is marked out in tiny pre-planned steps. Then, on a walk through the woods, we consider how the tempo of our lives affects our minds and discover how the beats of biology shape our bodies. This episode was produced with help from Molly Webster and Tracie Hunte. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.