The National Union of Teachers (NUT), the largest teachers' union in the UK, has come out strongly in support of the role of the SEN teacher in helping struggling pupils achieve their best.
It was responding to the words of children's charity Barnardo's chief executive Anne Marie Carrie who had said that those in teaching jobs "should look behind the behaviour to see the child".
Ms Carrie was expressing her concern at figures published last week by the Department for Education showing that special educational needs pupils are around nine times more likely to be permanently excluded than those without a statement of SEN.
Overall, there were 5,080 permanent exclusions from state-funded primary, state-funded secondary and all special schools in 2010/11.
While this represented a drop in the overall number of exclusions, the figure that raised alarm bells was the fact that pupils with SEN with statements accounted for 430 of these or eight per cent of the total.
"The most 'out of control' children may be the most vulnerable children facing horrendous problems at home," Ms Carrie explained.
Christine Blower, general secretary of the NUT, said that Barnardo's was "right to highlight" this trend, but added that the work of the special needs teacher is already focused on reducing the numbers of exclusions and helping SEN pupils fit in with their peers at school.
"Teachers are extremely committed to developing inclusive practice and making good progress in this," she said.
"Learning for children with SEN must be co-ordinated across the school, and the undervalued role of the SEN co-ordinator, or SENCO, is essential here."
Children's commissioner for England Maggie Atkinson has launched a School Exclusions Inquiry in order to help reduce the numbers of pupils being expelled by promoting best practice copied from the top performing schools.
"Permanent exclusion has a negative effect on a child's life for far longer than the stage immediately after exclusion," she said.
Posted by Theo Foulds