Action To Boost Support For Children With Special Educational Needs

Schools Minister Andrew Adonis has announced further action to ensure better support for children with Special Educational Needs (SEN). Draft guidance on planning and developing provision for children with SEN has been sent to local authorities and SEN groups for further comment.

It sets out a tough new improvement test for local authorities who might be considering reorganising their SEN provision in future, including changing special school provision.

And it follows up a promise to the Education and Skills Committee in October that DfES would issue guidance to local authorities on the factors they must take into account.

Andrew Adonis said: “The needs of the child must be paramount and every child with SEN should get a high quality education that meets their individual needs. This new guidance makes good the Government’s pledge that local authorities cannot change the local pattern on special schools unless they can show that better quality special needs provision will result.

“Our new test means extra protection for local parents and a guarantee that the quality of local SEN provision for their children will improve.

“The new guidance requires local authorities to clearly demonstrate how reorganised provision will improve on what is there now. And they must consider very carefully the views of local communities. It should help reassure parents concerned about the quality of special needs education in their areas.”

The guidance should also be used by the independent Schools Adjudicator when considering appeals.

The draft guidance, which is also being sent to the Schools Adjudicator, the Special Educational Consortium and the National Parent Partnership Network and other organisations, also sets out a number of key factors that local authorities must consider in order to improve special educational provision.

The views of key voluntary sector organisations and parents will be taken into account before the guidance is finalised and issued in the summer.

Special schools continue to have a vital role to play and the proportion of pupils with statements attending special schools has risen in recent years. A recent report from Ofsted showed that children with SEN can succeed in all types of schools provided they get high quality teaching and support. Our policy is to provide flexible provision, including mainstream schools, special schools and specially resourced provision in mainstream schools.

Within the national framework we set out, it is the responsibility of local councils to decide the precise pattern of local SEN provision based on children’s needs and the wishes of parents.