SPECIAL EDUCATIONAL NEEDS AND ETHNICITY – ISSUES OF OVER- AND UNDER-REPRESENTATION
Directors: Geoff Lindsay, Steve Strand and Sulochini Pather
CEDAR were awarded a contract from the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) to investigate the relationship between special educational needs (SEN) and ethnicity. The team included Professor Geoff Lindsay, Director of CEDAR, Dr Sulochini Pather, Teaching Fellow at the Warwick Institute of Education and Dr Steve Strand, Reader in Education at WIE/CEDAR.
Differences in the proportion of pupils identified as having SEN across different ethnic groups had been noted previously. However the reasons for any differences were unclear: whether there is a genuine higher incidence of SEN in some ethnic groups; whether some pupils are inappropriately identified; or whether some pupils are not identified at all. The overall aim of the research was to clarify these links between ethnicity and special educational needs and to suggest ways in which further action can be taken to address emerging issues.
The research involved a more sophisticated statistical analysis of national data than had currently been completed in order to explore the complex interrelationships between SEN, social disadvantage, gender and ethnicity. The research also involved the gathering of evidence through a systematic review of both the published and the ‘grey’ literature in the area. A questionnaire was sent to all LEA Principal Educational Psychologists and SEN advisers, and two focus groups were held with representatives of LAs who responded. The Project identified a complex set of inter-relationships between SEN and ethnicity with social disadvantage identified as a key factor.
Links to reports:-
Research Brief on DCSF website
Full Report - Research Report 757 on DCSF website
Strand, S. & Lindsay, G. (in press). Ethnic disproportionality in special education: Evidence from an English population study. Journal of Special Education. OnlineFirst 29 July 2008. proof