HC Deb 28 February 1989 vol 148 cc152-3
13. Mr. John Evans

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many children in St. Helens have received statements for special educational needs.

Mr. Butcher

A total of 479 children in St. Helens have statements of special educational needs.

Mr. Evans

I thank the Minister for that reply. Is he aware that, using the Warnock definition of children with special needs, there are some 5,000 children in schools in St. Helens who have special educational needs but who are not statemented? How does the Minister intend to ensure that the interests of those children are protected when individual schools shortly receive their budgets under the terms of the Educational Reform Act 1988?

Mr. Butcher

I think that the hon. Gentleman may not have underst000d that circular 7/88 on local management of schools makes it clear that variations in special needs between schools should be taken into account in the local education authority's resource allocation formula. Local education authorities will have discretion to except from delegation specialised support services such as education psychologists, peripatetic teachers and educational welfare officers. On the broader question, I shall be happy to speak to the hon. Gentleman and to his friends from the LEA if he wishes me to do so, but for the time being the LEA says that there are 479 pupils in this category. That did not come up as a subject when our officials visited the authority recently. [Interruption.]

Mr Speaker

Order. I ask hon. Members to desist from private conversations during Question Time.