The identification of special educational needs and the month of birth: Differential effects of category of need and level of assessment

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Abstract

The processes around the identification of special educational needs (SEN) should mean that those pupils who need most help receive it. However, there are concerns that this process is not working and there is an over-identification of pupils with SEN. Previous international research has shown that summer-born children are more likely to be identified as having SEN. However, these studies tend to treat SEN as a homogenous group. In this paper, we explore the extent to which the month-of-birth effect can be seen in subgroups of SEN. A survey of 450 schools in England was undertaken to explore the levels of provision and categories of SEN for 15,640 pupils. This led to differential month-of-birth effects being noted in category of SEN, with moderate learning difficulties being most susceptible. We hypothesise that teachers may be labelling younger children within the year group on the basis of political aspirations of attainments to be reached by the end of the academic year. When more thorough, multiprofessional assessments are undertaken, the month-of-birth effect is no longer evident. This has clear implications for assessment; identification; allocation of scarce educational resources; for educational policy on monitoring school performance and initial teacher training. © 2012 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)469-481
Number of pages12
JournalEuropean Journal of Special Needs Education
Volume27
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2012

Keywords

  • assessment
  • category of special educational need
  • differential effects
  • identification
  • level of support
  • moderate learning difficulties
  • month of birth
  • special educational need

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