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Brain Injury: Specialist Education Support

Volume 690: debated on Monday 1 March 2021

What estimate he has made of the number of pupils under the age of 18 who are in receipt of specialist education support as a result of experiencing a brain injury in the last 12 months. (912675)

The Department does not collect specific data on brain injuries. A pupil’s acquired brain injury could manifest in many different ways, and support should be tailored to their learning barriers, irrespective of the diagnosis. The SEND code of practice asks schools and colleges to address pupils’ individual educational needs, regardless of their condition.

Happy St David’s day, Mr Speaker.

I really find that a disappointing answer. There will be children going back to school after several weeks who will have had brain injuries of various kinds. If the Department does not even keep statistics on them, it is probably likely that lots of headteachers will not even know whether their children have had acquired brain injuries. Sometimes, the results of a brain injury can look remarkably like being naughty or unco-operative in school, and kids end up being excluded despite the fact that they have a medical condition. The special educational needs code still does not even mention brain injury. How are we ever going to take this seriously if we do not even gather the information and make sure that those children who really need support get it? It is often referred to as a hidden disability; well, it is completely hidden from the Minister herself.

No, the Government take brain injury and the devastating impact that it can have on a child’s life especially seriously, but the important thing is to make sure that each child gets the support that they need for their particular circumstances. That is why the SEND system is specifically designed to get the right support to each individual child, and that is what we are working on through the SEND review. I am very happy to discuss with the hon. Member exactly how we are working on making sure that each child gets the support that they need for how the brain injury manifests for that child.