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Health: ADHD

Volume 706: debated on Tuesday 16 December 2008


Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder on (a) classroom learning, (b) families, and (c) educational attainment. [HL136]

To ask Her Majesty's Government what training is available to teachers to enable them to identify and manage children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. [HL137]

(a) Schools and local authorities are statutorily required to have regard to the SEN code of practice for children and young people whose ADHD entails special educational needs (SEN). The code says that local authorities should have effective arrangements in place to ensure the needs of children and young people with SEN are assessed quickly and matched by appropriate provision, and that schools must do their best to ensure necessary provision is made for pupils with SEN.

(b) Agencies addressing children's needs are encouraged to work closely with parents and carers. For example, schools and local authorities are statutorily required to have regard to the special educational needs (SEN) code of practice; the code stresses the importance of all professionals (in schools, local authorities and other agencies) actively seeking to work with parents, valuing the contribution they make. The code also reminds local authorities that Section 332A of the Education Act 1996 requires them to arrange for the parent of any child in their area with special educational needs to be provided with advice and information about matters relating to those needs.

(c) In September 2008, my department published data on attainment of pupils at school action plus and with statements, during the 2006-07 academic year, at key stages 2 and 4 by primary type of SEN. The proportions of children with BESD (which would include children with ADHD) achieving expected levels of attainment, compared with children with no identified SEN, are shown in a table at annexe 1.

In September 2008, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) issued a clinical guideline which healthcare professionals are expected to take fully into account when exercising their clinical judgment. The guideline is clear that diagnosis of ADHD should only be made by a specialist psychiatrist, paediatrician or other appropriately qualified healthcare professional with training and expertise in ADHD, and gives guidance to professionals on appropriate treatment and multiagency interventions.

All schools have responsibility for ensuring teachers and other staff receive the training and development necessary to manage particular needs. We are strengthening coverage of SEN and disability issues within initial teacher training. In June 2008 we launched new units for primary undergraduate initial teacher training courses. These include material for sessions entitled “Introducing behavioural, emotional and social difficulties” and “Planning for pupils with behavioural, emotional and social difficulties”. Around £500,000 has been pledged to support incorporation into existing courses. Similar material is in preparation for secondary undergraduate initial teacher training courses and postgraduate certificate in education primary and secondary courses, for release in 2009.

The national strategies make available to teachers a continuing professional development (CPD) scheme, which includes study materials on addressing BESD. The department has also commissioned the national strategies to produce and disseminate inclusion development programme CPD materials to build school workforce confidence in addressing a range of special educational needs. These materials currently focus on communications difficulties and dyslexia. In 2009 they will focus on autism, and in 2010 they will focus on BESD, including ADHD.

Guidance on educating children and young people experiencing behavioural, emotional and social difficulties (BESD) was published in May 2008. It is designed to help school staff and local authority officers consider what support and provision are most likely to help remove barriers to achievement, health and emotional well-being for those children who are experiencing persistent behavioural, emotional and social difficulties—including children with ADHD. The guidance reminds school staff of advice contained in our 2001 guidance on Promoting Children's Mental Health within Early Years and Schools Settings. This sets out general information on how mental health problems present in children and practical suggestions on what classroom interventions can support children in addressing associated difficulties.

Annexe 1 Proportions of children achieving expected levels of attainment at key stages 2 and 4, 2006-07 academic year

KS2 English level 4 and above

KS2 Maths level 4 and above

KS2 Science level 4 and above

KS4 5A*-C including English and Maths

Children with BESD, at school action plus





Children with BESD, with statements





Children with no identified SEN





Source: DCSF: National Curriculum Assessment, GCSE and Equivalent Assessment and Post-16 Assessment by Pupil Characteristics, in England 2006-07