The Department part-funds 10 Regional Partnerships in England, which bring together local authorities with the aim that they collaborate to promote inclusion and positive outcomes for children with special educational needs and/or disabilities and looked-after children. The Partnerships that cover the South East region have developed materials and initiatives to improve the provision of services for children with a sensory impairment, including a visual impairment. These include:
Quality standards on visual impairment (2001), sensory impairment (2003) and multi-sensory impairment (2004). All have been disseminated nationally.
Remodelling the workforce—considerations for support services (2004). This guidance is targeted to professionals working in sensory impairment services.
Online training for staff in schools. Specific materials on visual impairment to be developed this year.
Sensory impaired 14+ Transition Protocol. This guidance contains recommendations to support young people with a sensory impairment from school to further education.
Sensory impaired glossary of terms. This glossary includes terms for sensory impaired and multi-sensory impaired multi-agency working. (2006)
Outreach work with the non-maintained and independent special school sector and local authorities to develop innovative solutions for support services for children with a visual impairment.
Sensory impairment benchmarking exercise. This includes schools and other support services.
As part of the Department's commitment to establish regional centres of expertise for low incidence SEN, funding is secured for 2006-07 to run a training course covering a practical approach to supporting access to learning for children with sensory impairments.
To answer the question with a degree of accuracy requires a combination of information from the pupil data submitted to the DfES by schools and the learner data that is submitted to the LSC by FE colleges. The two datasets have not been combined for all adult learners to match the learner information together, so an analysis of retention rates in further education provision based on post-16 pupils' special educational needs (SEN) status during their time in compulsory education is not possible.
However, learner self-assessment of whether they have a learning difficulty, disability and/or health problem is recorded on the LSC's learner data. In 2004-05 the national success rate for these learners was 73 per cent., compared with 74 per cent. for those without a learning difficulty, disability and/or health problem.
In the future it will be possible for information about the SEN status of pupils in schools to be matched to information about individuals in the FE sector as the education and training sector adopts Unique Learner Numbers (ULNs) as part of the portfolio of work within the Managing Information Across Partners (MIAP) programme. This will enable the progress of learners with SEN to be monitored in terms of the schools local authority legal definition, enabling local areas to understand better how they are supporting their local communities and what changes they may need to make to improve services.
(2) what assessment he has made of the evidence base underlying P level assessments for special schools.
The P scales are for pupils with special educational needs (SEN) working below level 1 of the National Curriculum. For children working at levels P1 to P3, we would expect teachers to assess the type and range of performance that a child working at this level might demonstrate across a range of subjects. The guidance issued by my Department, “Supporting the target setting process”, provides the same descriptors of performance across all subjects at P levels 1 to 3, with some subject specific examples to help teachers with assessment.
The P scales were first published to assist schools in setting targets for pupils with special educational needs (SEN) and were further developed following a review in 2003. The review sought the views of a range of respondents including staff in mainstream and special schools, Ofsted inspectors and members of Her Majesty’s Inspectorate. There was endorsement for the use of P scales in all settings and for the collection of national data.