The History Of Special Educational Needs...


In the early 20th century, ideas about the provision of education for children with special needs were based on a medical model of ‘defects’. This model focused on difference rather than normality, on illness rather than well-being and particularly on the ‘problem’ with the child. Children were given medically diagnosed categories with the emphasis on deficit rather than potential. It is hardly surprising that education for children with SEN originally took the form of separate special schools for those who were thought to need them.

In 1944 significant reforms to the education system were brought into effect. The majority of these reforms were directed at mainstream education and the provision of free education for all. This act still addressed certain aspects of education for children with SEN but still focused on the medical model of a disability. It established eleven categories of ‘handicap’ and children falling into these categories were described in terms of the ‘treatment’ they could receive.

In the 1960s and 1970s, work with children with SEN moved towards an approach favoured by behaviourist psychologists. This approach stressed the need to use operant conditioning techniques. Behaviourists rejected the medical modal and advocated an approach that dealt only with what they could observe, in which some people were very much against this idea and approach but it did prove successful in having a better understanding of different Special Educational Needs. The 60s and 70s paved the way for a new approach to special needs. Attitudes to special education in general started to change, and in part the behaviourist initiatives made the teaching of children with learning difficulties seem more accessible to teachers in mainstream schools. Theses idea helped to promote the possibility of inclusion of children with SEN.

Then in 1993 the Education Act which we all know came in, there were now legal requirements that oblige schools to provide for children with SEN and all schools had to publish their SEN policies and name a SEN Co-ordinator (SENCO). The SENCO would put things in place and provide support for all pupils that have statements of Special Educational Needs.

In September 2014 the new ‘SEN Code of Practice’ was put in to action, this was the biggest shake up to the SEN system in over 30 years. Instead of a child to be given a statement of SEN, the child would be given an Education, Health Care Plan (EHCP) which covers people from birth up to 25 years of age, Parents will have the option to have a greater say in how money is spent on their child’s SEN support and young people are to have the right to be consulted about their support.

Over the years support for children with Special Educational Needs has changed dramatically and improved for the better. As technology and understanding is growing so is the support that people with SEN need. This is a very positive thing to see as with anything in life, as time goes on the exploration and research into SEN will provide us with a better view on how to meet the needs of our young people.

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Posted By: Maidstone - 27th Feb