asked Her Majesty's Government:What was the outcome of bids made to the Department for Education and Employment by local education authorities under the schools access initiative.
Local Education Authorities (LEAs) are today being notified of supplementary credit approvals totalling £7.8 million in 1996–97 to enable them to improve access to mainstream schools for pupils with disabilities, and are being notified that capital grant of £974,000 (grant to voluntary aided schools is paid at the rate of 85 per cent. of eligible expenditure) will support work in 1996–97 at voluntary aided schools. Together with partnership funding in many cases the total value of the projects concerned is £10.6 million.I am delighted that this will enable many more schools to admit pupils with disabilities. It will improve facilities in over 700 mainstream schools, not only for pupils with physical disabilities, but also for those with, for example, visual or hearing impairments. The result will be greater access to the curriculum and to the social life of school for these pupils.LEAs and schools are planning a wide variety of projects. Just a few examples of the many worthwhile and imaginative improvements which will be made are:
- providing ramps, lifts, handrails and walkways to improve access to buildings;
- adapting accommodation for particular curriculum areas or relocating this accommodation to make it accessible;
- purchasing specialist equipment such as teaching aids for the visually handicapped (for example, Braille microcomputers), or portable transmitter/receiver systems for profoundly deaf pupils.
To maximise the benefits of the Schools Access Initiative, LEAs and schools have secured partnership funding totalling some £1.8 million. This has come from private contributions, business sponsorship, voluntary aided school governors' contributions and schools' own resources. It is a marvellous achievement.