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Teachers: Special Educational Needs

Volume 464: debated on Tuesday 9 October 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what recent assessment he has made of the adequacy of the number of teachers with training in severe, profound and multiple learning difficulties. (154607)

All teachers, as part of their initial teacher training and induction period, must demonstrate that they can differentiate their teaching to meet the needs of pupils, including those with special educational needs (SEN) or disabilities, and know how to seek advice from those with specialist knowledge.

Once qualified, all teachers are expected to discuss their own development needs in performance management reviews, and to address development priorities. This could include strengthening knowledge and understanding of a particular area or aspect of SEN, which could of course include severe, profound and multiple learning difficulties. Such children would normally be provided for in special schools because of the complexity of their needs. It would be for those schools to ensure that staff employed to support them had the necessary knowledge, skills and experience.

All schools receive a school development grant which they are able to use to support improvements in any aspect of teaching and learning. A wide variety of courses are available covering SEN, ranging from awareness-raising through to in-depth studies leading to specific qualifications. It is, however, a matter for individual teachers and their schools to determine their own particular training and development needs. Local authorities may retain a proportion of this grant, under certain conditions, to provide specific training and development of SEN,

The Department’s published SEN strategy, ‘Removing Barriers to Achievement’, recognised the importance of training and committed us to work closely with the Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA) to ensure that initial teacher training and programmes of continuing professional development provide a good grounding in core skills and knowledge of SEN. We have commissioned the TDA to carry forward a range of initiatives designed to improve and strengthen the SEN skills and confidence of trained, newly qualified and established teachers. These initiatives are being implemented and evaluated over the period 2005-08 at a cost of approximately £1.1 million.