Further Education: Autism

Innovation, Universities and Skills written question – answered on 5th February 2008.

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Photo of David Kidney David Kidney PPS (Rt Hon Rosie Winterton, Minister of State), Department for Transport

To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what arrangements his Department (a) has in place and (b) will have in place if the Education and Skills Bill is enacted to ensure the continuity of education and skills services provided to children with autism and Asperger's Syndrome as they make the transition to adulthood.

Photo of David Lammy David Lammy Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills) (Skills)

This Government are committed to improving provision and services for children and young people on the Autistic Disorder Spectrum. My Department is working closely with the Learning and Skills Council to identify existing provision and what needs to be put in place to ensure high quality and sufficiency to ensure continuity. All Learning and Skills Council Regions have completed analyses to identify current provision for all learners with learning difficulties and/or disabilities, including those on the Autistic Disorder Spectrum, and are developing plans for improving provision.

We are also working closely with the Department of Health, the Department for Children, Schools and Families and the Department for Work and Pensions on a raft of measures to improve provision and the transition to adulthood including those on the autistic disorder spectrum. These measures will anticipate the impact of changes needed over the next few years including the raising of the participation age as envisaged in the Education and Skills Bill.

Measures include work on a common funding approach, plans for individual budgets, improved planning and commissioning and curriculum improvements. At the heart of these measures is greatly increased and effective partnership working as set out in the cross government strategy on learners with learning difficulties and/or disabilities 'Progression through Partnership' published last year.

A key partnership is the one we have established with the Autism Education Trust launched in November 2007 which will advise us on improvements needed in provision and work force development. We also expect to launch two key projects this year which will also feature autism—"Getting a Life" focusing on what works for people with learning disabilities and the "Transition Support Programme" part of Aiming High for Disabled People.

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