Support for SEND Learners

Oral Answers to Questions — Education – in the House of Commons on 17th December 2018.

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Photo of Debbie Abrahams Debbie Abrahams Labour, Oldham East and Saddleworth

What recent assessment he has made of the adequacy of the level of support for SEND learners.

Photo of Nadhim Zahawi Nadhim Zahawi The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

A programme of local area inspections is under way to ensure that the SEND reforms are being implemented effectively and weaknesses addressed. Yesterday, we announced an additional £250 million to local authorities for higher needs budgets to support those with more complex needs across this year and next. The core schools and higher needs budget will increase from almost £41 billion in 2017-18 to £43.5 billion in 2019-20.

Photo of Debbie Abrahams Debbie Abrahams Labour, Oldham East and Saddleworth

Although the additional funding is welcome, I am sure that the Minister recognises the absolute crisis in support for children with special educational needs and disabilities and the absolute desperation that the parents, who are taking legal action on this very matter, feel, so will he announce an early new year resolution to plug the gap—estimated to be £1.6 billion by 2020, which these children will need?

Photo of Nadhim Zahawi Nadhim Zahawi The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

I attended the conference that the Parents and Carers Network held in Coventry. It is important to listen to the sector. Many local authorities are co-creating their SEND provision with parents, and it is important that we listen and deliver the £250 million additional funding announced yesterday, and of course the £100 million in capital funding as well, taking the funding to over £6 billion per annum on SEND students. I know you take a great interest in this matter, Mr Speaker, as well.

Photo of Mark Pawsey Mark Pawsey Conservative, Rugby

Brooke School in Rugby caters for children with autism, physical disabilities, medical needs and learning difficulties, and it has recently opened a shop in Rugby town centre where pupils learn to produce products from recycled materials and sell them to the public. Does the Minister agree that that is an excellent opportunity to learn workplace skills? Will he join me in commending the inspirational head teacher, Chris Pollitt, for this initiative?

Photo of Nadhim Zahawi Nadhim Zahawi The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

I commend the school for taking the initiative to provide its pupils with the opportunity to learn skills for the workplace in a safe environment. I hope that Mr Pollitt will share that excellent practice with other educational professionals and explore the possibility of running supported internships as well.