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Volume 451: debated on Tuesday 7 November 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how the policy of personalisation of special educational needs policy will be implemented in the case of children with severe verbal dyspraxia. (99122)

The Special Educational Needs (SEN) Code of Practice provides advice to local authorities (LAs) schools and others on carrying out their statutory duties to identify, assess and make provision for pupils with SEN, including children with verbal dyspraxia. Some children with dyspraxia may have statements of special educational needs. The statement will set out the child’s needs and specify the individualised provision to meet those needs. The LA which maintains the statement has a duty to arrange the specified provision.

Children who have dyspraxia, who do not have statements may have their needs supported in school at School Action or at School Action Plus:

a child supported at School Action will be provided with interventions that are additional to or different from those provided as part of the school’s usual differentiated curriculum offer; and

a child supported at School Action Plus will be provided with help from external services. Help may be in the form of advice to teachers on target setting and accompanying support strategies; or more specialist assessments to inform planning and measurement of progress; or support for particular activities.

In addition to the support provided to children under the SEN statutory framework, each school will decide how best to implement the policy of personalisation, using the additional funding—£990 million for 2006-08—allocated for this purpose, and taking account of local priorities. The focus on personalised learning should help improve outcomes for all pupils, especially in core curriculum subjects.

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) if he will provide funding for local authorities to increase the number of collaborative arrangements in which communities of schools work together to provide services for children with special educational needs; (99034)

(2) what steps he has taken in response to evidence from Ofsted that funding delegated to schools for meeting the special educational needs of children has been used for other priorities in schools;

(3) if he will take steps to ring-fence funding delegated to schools to meet the special educational needs of children;

(4) if he will take steps to provide for a major increase in the funding of special educational needs in each of the next five years.

All pupils, including those with SEN, are benefiting from the significant increases in investment in education funding under this Government. Total revenue funding per pupil has increased nationally by £1,440 in real terms between 1997-98 and 2006-07. By 2007-08 the increase over 1997-98 will have reached over £1,630 per pupil in real terms. More resources are going into schools to support children with SEN. LA indicative figures show spending rising from £3.5 billion in 2003-04 to over £4.5 billion in 2006-07.

The school funding settlement for 2006-08 provides a national average increase in the dedicated schools grant of 6.8 per cent. per pupil this year (compared with authorities’ spending in 2005-06) and a further increase of 6.7 per cent. per pupil for 2007-08. The settlement gives schools everywhere the secure and predictable base they need to deliver a wider and more personalised offer to all their pupils. Decisions on funding for subsequent years will be dependent upon the outcome of the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR07).

DSG is a ring-fenced grant. It is paid to local authorities, who must use it for the purposes of their schools budget. It is for each local authority to distribute funding to its schools using its locally agreed formula, and it is for schools’ governing bodies to decide how to spend their available resources. We believe that schools are best placed to make decisions about support arrangements for pupils experiencing barriers to their learning. They can intervene early and make effective arrangements promptly and flexibly, within the whole school context.

The Education Act 1996 states that schools must use their best endeavours to make suitable provision for all pupils with SEN. For children with statements, LAs, in partnership with schools, must ensure that the provision specified in the statement can be delivered. The annual review ensures that the continued effectiveness of the statement is monitored and evaluated at least annually.

The SEN code of practice provides detailed guidance to schools and LAs on their respective responsibilities. In addition, the Special Educational Needs (Provision of Information by LEAs) (England) Regulations 2001 require LAs to set out what they expect schools to provide from their budgets for children with SEN but without statements and what LAs expect to provide themselves.

The Department’s 2004 guidance “The Management of SEN Expenditure” recommended the accountability arrangements that should be in place in order to secure positive outcomes for children with special educational needs. The guidance proposed a framework covering: school information and performance data; school self-evaluation; evaluation meetings and accountability to parents.

All schools are required to complete a self-evaluation form (SEF), drawing on improved data and supported by inspection, to identify areas where there is a need to improve performance. School improvement partners (SIPs) will challenge and support schools. The focus on a continuing cycle of school improvement should ensure that the progress of all children is kept under review and that they receive appropriate support.

Collaboration is proving to be a very effective way of addressing school improvement, teaching and learning, and other organisational issues. SEN is certainly one area that can benefit from a partnership approach of both schools and possibly other organisations. However, we believe that schools must have the freedom to make spending decisions and to decide whether they take part in partnership activity, based on their specific local needs. For this reason, from April 2006 the majority of funding to support collaborative work now goes directly to schools as part of their school development grant. The way schools decide to use this funding is therefore a matter for local decision.