Sensorily Impaired Pupils

Oral Answers to Questions — Education and Employment – in the House of Commons at 1:48 pm on 24th July 1996.

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Photo of Stephen Timms Stephen Timms , Newham North East 1:48 pm, 24th July 1996

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment how many pupils with hearing impairments are being taught in mainstream schools. [37271]

Photo of Dame Cheryl Gillan Dame Cheryl Gillan Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education and Employment)

Statistics on the number of pupils with hearing impairments in mainstream schools are not collected centrally.

Photo of Stephen Timms Stephen Timms , Newham North East

I am aware of the Minister's close personal interest in this matter. In the light of that, does she agree that we need data on the numbers and experiences of youngsters with disabilities in mainstream schools so that we can ensure that mainstreaming is working effectively for them? Should not such data be collected by the Government?

Photo of Dame Cheryl Gillan Dame Cheryl Gillan Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education and Employment)

I thank the hon. Gentleman for acknowledging my interest in this matter; of course I shall look at what he says. Subject to certain conditions, local education authorities have a duty to provide mainstream places for children with special educational needs when that is what parents want. We have encouraged LEAs to integrate children with SEN in the main stream. I have seen radio aids being used in the classroom very effectively—they certainly level the ground for children with a hearing impairment.

While I am on my feet, the hon. Gentleman might like to know of Langdon secondary school, in his constituency, which has a learning support department that has recently twinned with the effectiveness division of the Department for Education and Employment. Teachers and pupils have visited the Department, and art from that school is on display in Sanctuary buildings.

Photo of Bob Spink Bob Spink , Castle Point

Does my hon. Friend welcome the nursery voucher scheme, which gives an opportunity to spot at an early stage children with special educational needs, particularly those with hearing difficulties?

Photo of Dame Cheryl Gillan Dame Cheryl Gillan Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education and Employment)

Of course I welcome wholeheartedly the nursery voucher scheme. I am pleased that, from April next year, parents of four-year-olds will have access to good-quality nursery education throughout the country, whatever the needs of the child.