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Special Educational Needs

Department for Education written question – answered on 5th December 2018.

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Photo of Rushanara Ali Rushanara Ali Labour, Bethnal Green and Bow

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to support (a) primary schools and (b) health and social care providers to identify the special education needs of children.

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

The statutory Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) code of practice sets out high expectations of schools about how they identify and meet the special educational needs of their pupils.

We have made clear through the Framework for Initial Teacher Training that it should equip trainees to identify the needs of all pupils and make provision for them, including seeking the advice of colleagues with specialist knowledge and experience. We are currently undertaking an audit of university-based and school-based providers of Initial Teacher Training which we will use to produce a best practice guide.

The Department for Education (DfE) has contracted with the Whole School SEND consortium, led by the National Association for Special Educational Needs, to prove support to the SEND schools’ workforce. A key aim of the contract is to equip schools to identify and meet their training needs in relation to SEND. The Consortium has produced resources and training to enable schools to review their SEND provision, to ensure they can identify and meet the needs of pupils effectively. Additionally, DfE has funded a range of organisations to develop specialist resources and training to support teachers to identify and effectively meet the needs of pupils with autism; dyslexia and specific learning difficulties; speech, language and communication needs; sensory impairments and physical disabilities. All the materials funded by the department are hosted on the SEND Gateway, an online portal which offers education professionals free, easy access to high quality information, resources and training for identifying and meeting the needs of children with SEND.

We also fund a consortium of partners, including the Council for Disabled Children, to work with health and social care services to identify and spread effective practice and to produce guidance which supports effective identification of need, joint commissioning and the improvement of education, health and care plans.

We fund a SEND leadership programme and legal training for all local authorities and their health partners to ensure they are clear on their statutory responsibilities and we have introduced joint Ofsted and Care Quality Commission (CQC) SEND inspections of the effectiveness of services in identifying and meeting the needs of children and young people with SEND and improving their outcomes. These inspections began in 2016 and all 152 areas in England will be inspected by 2021. The inspections have identified a number of strengths around identification and we are working with partners, including NHS England, to spread effective practice and further embed the principles and practice from the reforms with health and social care providers.

NHS England, DfE and the Department for Health and Social Care are also collaborating to engage local services where we identify concerns with performance. This includes providing support and challenge to local areas following their Ofsted/CQC SEND inspection.

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