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One reason that the classification of special needs has spread like wildfire is because several key players in the education system - especially the teacher-training industry - have a vested professional interest in its growth.Every increase in the number of diagnoses means the chance for more empire-building, bigger bureaucracies and extra state funding.The casual diagnosis of special needs is a disaster for pupils, because all too often it means that they will not receive the proper teaching they require.In certain cases, like those of children said to have ADHD, their disciplinary issues will not be addressed, and instead they will be given a chemical cosh like the drug Ritalin to prevent them misbehaving.This is one of the most deprived areas of Scotland, second only to Glasgow on the index of poverty.
If this figure truly represented the reality of educational disability, we would be a nation in crisis.
Before then, pupils could only be diagnosed as having special needs if they were assessed by a medical practitioner and were shown to have an identifiable medical problem, often even before they reached school.
As a result of these strict criteria, only about 2 per cent of pupils were classified as special needs. From that moment, all local education authorities were given the duty to provide pupils with the schooling 'suitable to their needs' - a catch-all term so wide and so meaningless as to encourage indiscriminate diagnoses by the schools themselves.
Even though I have long been a trenchant critic of Ofsted, this report does reflect a genuine and longstanding problem in British education.
Ofsted argues that hundreds of thousands have been wrongly diagnosed as requiring special needs teaching.