Skip to main content

Special Educational Needs

Volume 477: debated on Thursday 12 June 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what assessment he has made of the effect of the Government's inclusion agenda on special educational needs schools. (210088)

The Government Response to the Education and Skills Select Committee report on Special Educational Needs (October 2006) said that inclusion is about the quality of a child's experience and providing access to a high quality education which enables them to make progress in their learning and participate fully in the activities of their school and community. We see a vital and continuing role for special schools as part of an inclusive education system, meeting children's needs directly and working in much closer partnership with mainstream schools to build expertise throughout the system. We signalled our commitment to this by bringing special schools within the Department's specialist schools programme.

Some 26 special schools had already been designated as SEN specialist schools by October 2006, with funding and a specific brief to provide outreach to mainstream schools. As of 1 June 2008, there were 87 special schools designated as SEN specialist schools.

Our guidance entitled Planning and Developing Special Educational Provision: A Guide for Local Authorities and other proposers (published in March 2007) encourages local authorities to plan and commission a flexible range of provision to meet children's needs. This guidance reaffirms special schools' important role in meeting children's needs directly and in providing outreach to other schools. The guidance also reminds maintained mainstream schools that they must make provision for children on their roll who have SEN and make reasonable adjustments for disabled children.

Ofsted's survey Inclusion—does it matter where pupils are taught? (2006) said that children with SEN can do well in all types of school—access to high quality, specialist teachers and a commitment by leaders to create opportunities to include all pupils are keys to success. We are asking Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Schools to review progress on SEN in 2009.