In 1994 schools find themselves in a social and economic context which radically challenges previously held concepts regarding their very function as educational and pastoral organizations. At the centre of the debate is the politically derived pressure on headteachers and school governors to be subject to ‘market forces’ and to be economically independent of local government, hence the impetus for some to seek ‘grant maintained status’ (GMS). To date the ‘take up’ rate for GMS has been slow but under the arrangements for ‘Local Management of Schools’ (LMS) even those schools remaining within local authority control are now to be viewed as medium-sized businesses with substantial income, capital, assets and liabilities. Headteachers are constrained to maximize their existing resources supplementing them wherever possible by any means available. This regularly has the effect of forcing schools to make unpalatable choices between what they can and what they would like to offer pupils, not on educational grounds but according to financial considerations. If we are to be influenced by government rhetoric, the ‘success’ of schools as educational establishments is to be judged publicly according to politically expedient measures such as spurious ‘league tables’, truancy figures and exclusion rates. Within such a context the special educational needs (SEN) sector is the most susceptible to controversial change, since it potentially involves the greatest liability to examination results and the greatest pressure on school finances.