Down Syndrome Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:23 pm on 4th February 2022.

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Photo of Jonathan Gullis Jonathan Gullis Conservative, Stoke-on-Trent North 1:23 pm, 4th February 2022

I would like to associate myself with my hon. Friend’s comments regarding the fantastic organisations based in the great city of Stoke-on-Trent. I give a particular shout-out to Watermill School, based in the Stoke-on-Trent North, Kidsgrove and Talke area, which is being extended as part of a £7.5 million refurbishment to increase our SEND provision in the city, which is sorely lacking at present.

My hon. Friend specifically mentioned the education of teachers. As someone who spent eight and a half years in the teaching profession in state schools both in London and in Birmingham, I am sad to say that, at no stage, as a head of year or as a frontline teacher, was I ever given training about engaging with and looking after a child with Down syndrome. In fact, with some learning needs, the teacher would have that conversation only if they had a child in their class or year group with that learning need. It is simply not right, and nor is it fair on those young people, who deserve to have their full potential unlocked. Does she agree that, as part of the legislation that my right hon. Friend Dr Fox is putting forward—this fantastic legislation—we need to have a serious conversation with the Department for Education, working with local authorities, not just about what type of training is done at the start of term or when a student enters a school, but about how the continuous training and development of teachers happens all year round?