Skip to main content

Special Educational Needs

Volume 518: debated on Monday 15 November 2010

8. What plans he has for future provision for children with special educational needs; and if he will make a statement. (23525)

To deliver the Government’s commitments on special educational needs, I am publishing a Green Paper later this year to look at the wide range of issues concerning children with special educational needs and disabilities. To inform this important work, I issued a call for views and have met parents, teachers, local authorities, charities and other groups. I am also considering the findings of recent reviews, including the recent report from Ofsted.

I thank the Minister for that answer. However, like many MPs, I have had in my constituency surgeries people who have real concern that their children will not be adequately assessed. That is a great worry for parents. What can she tell us to outline a future approach and take away parents’ worry?

That is specifically why we are producing the Green Paper. We recognise how many parents feel that they continually have to battle to get the needs of their child recognised, and then battle again to make sure that those needs are catered for. We are looking at how we can make the system more transparent, how we can streamline assessment, and how we can identify need much earlier. We also want to improve parents’ choice about the provision for their child and look at transition for young people right across the piece.

Given the huge weight of evidence about the importance of early intervention for all children, but particularly for children with special educational needs—the Minister has talked about that—can she confirm for us today that the pupil premium will be paid for under-fives?

I said earlier that, in line with the funding premium, we have spent that money extending it to all disadvantaged two-year-olds to ensure that they have an opportunity to benefit from early education, because that will make a big difference. The hon. Lady mentions early intervention. That is why I asked Dame Claire Tickell to look specifically at how we can use the early years foundation stage and early education to identify needs, specifically special educational needs. I hope that that answers the hon. Lady’s question.

I warmly welcome giving greater autonomy to schools. However, can we ensure that schools are not free to put up classrooms in which children with a hearing difficulty are unable to hear what is going on, and can we make sure that basic regulation is in place to ensure that every classroom, unlike so many of those built in recent years, is suitable for the needs of every child in that class?

The National Deaf Children’s Society has raised that issue repeatedly. The Government are very sympathetic to this point; acoustics need to be considered when we are thinking about school buildings.