(2) what measures are in place to ensure children with emotional and behavioural disorders are taught in an environment suitable for their condition.
DfES guidance relating to children with behavioural, emotional and social difficulties (BESD) is directed to both local authorities and head teachers. This includes the SEN Code of Practice (2001), and Promoting Children's Mental Health within Early Years and School Settings (2001). With the Department's BESD Working Group, which includes head teachers, leaders of pupil referral units, educational psychologists, representatives from CAMHS and key voluntary and professional organisations, we are currently considering further, targeted guidance for schools.
In addition to guidance, specialist training materials and opportunities for accreditation have been made available for some 500 staff across the country who have particular responsibilities for BESD.
Our guidance on exclusion from school also makes it clear that schools must do their best to ensure that the necessary provision is made for pupils with special educational needs and that, other than in the most exceptional circumstances, schools should avoid permanently excluding pupils with statements. We will be revising our guidance on school behaviour policies to strengthen advice on making reasonable adjustments for pupils with special educational needs and disabilities.
On suitable environments for children with BESD, the SEN Code of Practice requires all local authorities to provide appropriate settings, either through mainstream schools, BESD special schools, or PRUs, with a flexible continuum of provision to meet the particular needs of children with BESD. Where a child has complex needs the statutory framework makes clear the need for children to be assessed individually and for authorities to take into consideration the views of parents.
Further details on the Government's programme for BESD will shortly be announced in our response to the House of Commons Education and Skills Committee SEN Third Report of Session 2005-06.
(2) how many places in each local education authority area were available for children with emotional and behaviour disorders in England in the last period for which figures are available.
Information on the number of places available for children with behaviour, emotional and social difficulties is not collected centrally.
Information was collected from schools on pupils who are supported at School Action Plus and those pupils with a statement of special educational needs (SEN) about their main or primary need and, if appropriate, their secondary need for the first time in 2004.
There are a number of sensitivities about categorising pupils in this way. It is important that anyone using the data should be aware of the concerns and also understand the limitations of the data’s reliability and validity. There are a range of factors which may affect the data recorded, including:
Local interpretation of definitions
Classification of children with multiple needs
Differences in diagnoses between education and health professionals
Availability of special school provisions in Authorities
A table showing information on the number of pupils being taught in a maintained mainstream school who have statements of special educational needs or are supported at School Action Plus and who have behaviour, emotional and social difficulties as their primary need has been placed in the House Library.