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Educationally Sub-Normal Children

Volume 649: debated on Thursday 23 November 1961

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14.

asked the Minister of Education how many educationally sub-normal children between the ages of 5 and 11 years at primary schools are receiving specialised teaching, and how many are not.

These detailed figures could only be obtained by making special inquiries from more than 22,000 schools. My right hon. Friend has recently collected information from local education authorities about their arrangements for providing special education in ordinary schools and proposes to consider whether more detailed examination of selected areas would be desirable.

Does not my hon. Friend agree that it is absolutely vital to know the size of the problem, particularly in the primary schools, because unless we know exactly how many children are backward it is very difficult to know what to do? Will he look into the matter more closely and see if he can institute an inquiry to find out how many children need this specialised type of education?

Yes, Sir. The matter is complicated by the wide range of degrees of backwardness which have to be taken into account. I will bear in mind what my hon. Friend says

15.

asked the Minister of Education whether he will institute an inquiry into the progress of educationally sub-normal children after they leave school at the age of 15 years.

A Working Party of the British Council for Rehabilitation is at present considering the needs of handicapped school leavers. It will assess to what extent those needs are being satisfactorily met, and make recommendations. An observer from the Ministry sits on the Working Party. When my right hon. Friend receives its Report, he will consider whether he should institute a special inquiry about educationally sub-normal children.

Do I understand from my hon. Friend that the educationally sub-normal are included in this inquiry about educationally handicapped children? Will he institute an inquiry iii the borstals and various other institutions throughout the country to discover how many of our children are educationally sub-normal?

Educationally subnormal children are included in the inquiry, and we are gathering together what information we can about the general size of the problem and its distribution.