Special Educational Needs

Department for Education written question – answered on 13th October 2016.

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Photo of Marie Rimmer Marie Rimmer Labour, St Helens South and Whiston

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if she will review the implementation of new SEND system by local authorities; and what assessment she has made of how transitional funding is being used in each area to benefit children with (a) autism and (b) other special educational needs.

Photo of Marie Rimmer Marie Rimmer Labour, St Helens South and Whiston

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment she has made of how effectively the new system for supporting children with special educational needs and disabilities is meeting the needs of children and young people on the autism spectrum; and if she will make a statement.

Photo of Edward Timpson Edward Timpson Minister of State (Department for Education)

The Department is monitoring implementation of the reforms and transition to the new system closely. Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission began inspecting local area effectiveness in meeting their special educational needs and disability (SEND) duties in May. All areas will be inspected over a five year period and the findings published here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/local-area-send-inspection-outcome-letters

The Department also draws on a wide range of research, surveys and data as well as feedback from our professional SEND Advisers and funded voluntary sector organisations.

The Department has issued £113million in funding between 2014-15 and 2016-17 through the SEND Implementation Grant to support local authorities to carry out the SEND reforms. It is the responsibility of local authorities to make best use of this funding to support them to fulfill their duties. The Department has also funded the Autism Education Trust (£650,000 in 2016-17) to deliver autism training to education professionals in England. The Trust has trained more than 100,000 education staff since 2012. The training offered by the Autism Education Trust incorporates the learning from previous work by Ambitious about Autism on strategies for supporting transition from school to college, and the contract also covers a service provided by the National Autistic Society that provides information and advice to parents and professionals on exclusions.

The Department has not made an assessment of how the new system of support for children with SEND is meeting the needs of those with autism in particular. However, there have been a number of significant changes to the SEND system which particularly benefit children and young people with autism. This includes the publication of ‘local offers’ of SEND services by local authorities, the introduction of streamlined education, health and care needs assessments and plans, and new statutory protections for young people aged 16-25 in further education.

Under the Department’s Free Schools programme, there are now nineteen special free schools open across England, including several that are specifically for children with Autism, such as the Rise free school in Hounslow, the Lighthouse free school in Leeds and the National Autistic Society’s Church Lawton free school in Cheshire. There are a further fourteen special free schools due to open in the future, seven of which will specialise in provision for children with autism, including the Heartlands Autism free school in Haringey and a second National Autistic Society free school, the Vanguard free school in Lambeth. Several of the other schools will offer some places for children with autism.

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