Tuesday, 3 January 2017

“SEN’s completely different now”: critical discourse analysis of three “Codes of Practice for Special Educational Needs” (1994, 2001, 2015)

an article by Teresa Lehane (University of Worcester, UK) published in Educational Review Volume 69 Issue 1 (2017)


Regardless of the differing shades of neo-liberalism, successive governments have claimed to champion the cause of “special educational needs and/or disability” (SEND) through official Codes of Practice in 1994, 2001 and 2015.

This analysis and comparison of the three Codes of Practice aims to contribute to the debate by exploring aspects of the documents themselves.

Each Code of Practice aims, or at least claims, to overcome past barriers and the 2015 version explicitly heralds a radical overhaul of the SEND system.

In this article, elements of critical discourse analysis (CDA) are used in exploring the three documents, with particular emphasis on the 2015 Code.

The conclusion is reached that while the fundamental stance on SEND remains unchanged in 2015, radical change is present and is all the more radical for being hidden in plain sight, delivering commissioning and procurement and a potentially arms-length approach to provision. As an integral part of the overall school system, the 2015 context for SEND is one of school diversity and choice and the model is of private sector competition and entrepreneurship in a context of austerity. 

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