[Mr. Martin Caton in the Chair] — Children and Young People with Autism

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 10:49 am on 8th October 2008.

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Photo of Jim Knight Jim Knight Minister of State (Schools and Learners), Department for Children, Schools and Families, Minister of State (Department for Children, Schools and Families) (Schools and Learners) 10:49 am, 8th October 2008

I will ensure that my noble Friend Baroness Morgan, who has departmental responsibility for those matters, is referred to the work that the hon. Gentleman has mentioned.

We have heard about work on the inclusion development programme, which provides training materials for current school and early years staff. This year, our work to raise awareness among teachers through the programme has focused on dyslexia, and speech, language and communication needs. Next year, we will focus specifically on autism, and we will keep a careful eye on the effects of training materials to ensure that they really are making a difference. In June, the Training and Development Agency for Schools launched comprehensive training resources for initial teacher training at primary undergraduate level. That resource includes material on recognising and supporting children with autistic spectrum disorders and a placement scheme in special provision for trainees.

We are also developing a masters in teaching and learning, so in the early years of teaching we can embed more consistent continuous professional development. In particular, we wish to ensure that there is more consistent quality training in dealing with children with special educational needs. Through "The Children's Plan", we have been trying to extend early intervention and multi-agency working. We will also deepen the Children's Trust arrangements, on which we will be legislating in due course, so that we can ensure that the needs of these children are properly assessed and addressed.

There were a number of other points that I would love to have addressed. My hon. Friend Dr. Ladyman made some important points—as did all the speakers. On transitions and information, there are all sorts of things I could say, but I am running out of time.

To continue challenging our thinking, and moving forward on this issue, we have established an Autism Education Trust, which is being led by the National Autistic Society, TreeHouse, and the Council for Disabled Children. The trust will bring together specialists, spread good practice and be a representative voice of the autism community to central and local government. We will continue to work with professionals and autism specialists to ensure that the provision for some of our most vulnerable young people is world class. No child should be left behind. Those who need extra support to stay ahead are this Government's priority.