Special Educational Needs

Department for Education written question – answered on 23rd April 2018.

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Photo of Afzal Khan Afzal Khan Shadow Minister (Home Office) (Immigration)

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he has taken to assess whether (a) students and (b) parents of students with (i) autism and (ii) specific learning difficulties are satisfied with the accommodation by education providers of the educational needs of those students.

Photo of Afzal Khan Afzal Khan Shadow Minister (Home Office) (Immigration)

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what his policy is on the provision of study coaches for students with (a) autism and (b) specific learning difficulties.

Photo of Afzal Khan Afzal Khan Shadow Minister (Home Office) (Immigration)

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he has taken to ensure that students with (a) autism and (b) specific learning difficulties are adequately accommodated by education providers at each level of their education.

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

The department does not collect information on the satisfaction of students with autism or specific learning difficulties nor their parents regarding education providers. Students on special educational needs (SEN) Support are entitled to a termly review of the support provided. Those who have Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans have a right to a review of their plan by the local authority at least annually.

Schools have a duty under the Equality Act 2010 to make reasonable adjustments for students who are disabled, and to ensure that disabled students are not at a substantial disadvantage compared with their peers. This duty is anticipatory – it requires thought to be given in advance to what disabled students may require and what adjustments might be needed to prevent that disadvantage.

Students’ and parents’ views of services are an important part of the Ofsted CQC SEND inspections, which started in May 2016 and will see every local area inspected by 2021. Inspections look at the effectiveness of services, including education providers, in identifying and meeting needs and improving outcomes.

It is important that education staff are well placed to support students with autism and specific learning difficulties. The department has funded the Autism Education Trust (AET) since 2011 to deliver autism awareness training for early years, school and post-16 education staff. To date, the AET has provided training for more than 150,000 education staff. Training is available for all those who work in educational settings, not just teachers. The AET has also published national autism standards for educational settings and a competency framework for those working with children and young people with autism. A two-year extension to the contract with the AET was recently confirmed, worth £1.45 million.

In addition to work with the AET, the department works to ensure that all schools meet the needs of students with SEN and disabilities, including those with autism and specific learning difficulties, through Initial Teacher Training and the Teachers’ Standards. Each school, including Academies and Free Schools, must have a SEN co-ordinator (SENCO) who must hold qualified teacher status, and usually they must undertake the Masters level National Award in SEN co-ordination within three years of being appointed.

The department is also funding the Education and Training Foundation in 2018-19 to improve the capacity of the Further Education sector to support students with SEND. This includes an analysis of training needs about specific conditions such as autism.

Furthermore, the department will shortly be awarding a 2 year contract to provide strategic support to the workforce in mainstream and special schools to deliver high quality teaching across all types of SEN and disability.

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