HC Deb 13 December 1994 vol 251 cc757-8
4. Mr. Bayley

To ask the Secretary of State for Education what funding has been added to local education authority budgets to meet the extra costs incurred by the implementation of the new code of practice for special educational needs in primary schools.

Mrs. Gillian Shephard

The code of practice has been widely welcomed as reflecting existing best practice in schools. Many schools will have been following the procedures recommended in the code, and its purpose is to encourage others to do so.

Mr. Bayley

Given the great demands on the special educational needs co-ordinator, as spelt out in the code of practice, will the Secretary of State say what account she has taken—in the funding that she has made available to local authorities—of the problems of rural authorities such as North Yorkshire, which has a large number of small primary schools, and where the heads of schools, who would normally be the special educational needs co-ordinators there, also have formidable teaching commitments?

Mrs. Shephard

As the hon. Gentleman will know, the code followed extensive consultation and included points on the work load of teachers, head teachers, and so on. Indeed, it was redrafted in the light of the concerns expressed. The Department is funding research into effective practice by SEN co-ordinators, or those who have to fill that role in small rural schools. We will publish the results and will look at all aspects of implementation, as it is obviously very important, including the question of resources. The main point is that the code is building on existing best practice.

Sir John Hannam

I congratulate my right hon. Friend on the new code of practice. Will she outline what measures are in place to ensure that schools spend what they should on children with special educational needs?

Mrs. Shephard

The only extra requirement for schools, resulting from the code, is that they should publish their policy on special educational needs by August next year. In-service funding of £5.6 million will be provided through grants for education support and training to local education authorities to help schools with that.

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