World beaters

Jarlath O'Brien

I read Laura McInerney’s recent Guardian article ( with interest and am pleased that special schools are provoking discussion amongst our mainstream cousins. Laura achieved at least two things with the article: a) bringing the issue to the attention of the wider education community and b) provoking a difference of opinion amongst special school colleagues whose community can sometimes feel like a mutual appreciation society.

One of the questions raised was “could it be that inspectors are overly moved by a syrupy view of disability?” I have been through four Section 5 inspections, one residential inspection and one Section 8 monitoring visit as a leader in special schools. All five education inspections were carried out by former special school Headteachers, both lead and additional inspectors. Far from being syrupy, the experiences were sharp. They knew what they were looking at. The lesson I mentioned in an…

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