IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

An Evaluation of “Special Educational Needs” Programmes in England


  • Francois Keslair
  • Eric Maurin
  • Sandra McNally


The need for education to help every child rather than focus on average attainment has become a more central part of the policy agenda in the US and the UK. Remedial programmes are often difficult to evaluate because participation is usually based on pupil characteristics that are largely unobservable to the analyst. In this paper we evaluate programmes for children with moderate levels of 'special educational needs' in England. We show that the decentralized design of the policy generates significant variations in access to remediation resources across children with similar prior levels of difficulty. However, this differential is not reflected in subsequent educational attainment - suggesting that the programme is ineffective for 'treated' children. In the second part of our analysis, we use demographic variation within schools to consider the effect of the programme on whole year groups. Our analysis is consistent with no overall effect on account of the combined direct and indirect (spillover) effects. Thus, the analysis suggests that a key way that English education purports to help children with learning difficulties is not working.

Suggested Citation

  • Francois Keslair & Eric Maurin & Sandra McNally, 2011. "An Evaluation of “Special Educational Needs” Programmes in England," CEE Discussion Papers 0129, Centre for the Economics of Education, LSE.
  • Handle: RePEc:cep:ceedps:0129

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Victor Lavy & Analia Schlosser, 2005. "Targeted Remedial Education for Underperforming Teenagers: Costs and Benefits," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 23(4), pages 839-874, October.
    2. Claire Crawford & Anna Vignoles, 2010. "An analysis of the educational progress of children with special educational needs," DoQSS Working Papers 10-19, Department of Quantitative Social Science - UCL Institute of Education, University College London.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Rebecca Fauth & Samantha Parsons & Lucinda Platt, 2014. "Convergence or divergence? A longitudinal analysis of behaviour problems among disabled and non-disabled children aged 3 to 7 in England," DoQSS Working Papers 14-13, Department of Quantitative Social Science - UCL Institute of Education, University College London.
    2. Fauth, Rebecca & Parsons, Samantha & Platt, Lucinda, 2014. "Convergence or divergence?: a longitudinal analysis of behaviour problems among disabled and non-disabled children aged 3 to 7 in England," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 59659, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.

    More about this item


    education; special needs; evaluation;

    JEL classification:

    • I2 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cep:ceedps:0129. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.