UK Politicians Want to Change Special Education

April 3, 2012

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

1. parliament (n.)
 [pahr-luh-muhnt or, sometimes, pahrl-yuh-] – a group of representatives who create laws
Example The parliament recently passed the law on divorce.

2. special needs (n.) [spesh-uhl][needz] – mental, emotional, physical or behavioral problems of a person addressed through a specific method of teaching and support
Example: Students who are too aggressive may have special needs. 

3. post- (prefix) [pohst] – added before a word to mean “after”
Example  Post-teen students include those aged between 19 and 25.

4. inconsistent (adj.) [in-kuhn-sis-tuhnt] – not having the same quality or quantity
Example: The rule is inconsistent because it does not apply to everyone. 

5. accountable (adj.) [uh-koun-tuh-buhl] –  held responsible for something or someone
Example  Government should be accountable to its citizens from whom it gets taxes.

Read the text below.

Members of the United Kingdom Parliament are determined to improve education for people with special needs.

After discovering that 1/3 (one-third) of eighteen-year-olds with special needs have no access to proper education or job opportunities, the Commons Public Accounts Committee decided that the current special education system must be changed.

Presently, the UK government has two special education plans: a plan for children below 16 years old and another plan for those aged 16 to 25. However, the post-16 plan is highly unorganized.

From 2009 to 2010, the government provided the post-16 age group £640 million for special education but students did not get equal access to services.  Members of parliament believe this is due to the inconsistent quality of government services in different parts of the country.

Furthermore, almost three-fourths (3/4) of local government agencies are not able to give enough information about colleges that offer special education. Families also do not know what services are available for their children with special needs. Most of them lose hope in receiving government support.

Mark Lever, CEO of the National Autistic Society, expressed disappointment at the current system, saying that many young people with special needs would have jobs if the government would just help them.

Parliament is now proposing a single education and health care plan for people with special needs which will last from their birth until they turn 25. This would be the UK’s biggest reform program on special education in 30 years, and should make local governments more accountable.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A

·         Should the government be accountable for children with special needs? Why or why not?
·         In your country, would you say the government is considerate of its citizens who are handicapped or less privileged? Please explain further.

Discussion B

·         What difficulties can a person with special need face in the workplace?
·         How can the government help him or her overcome these difficulties?


April 3, 2012