§ Mr. Alfred Morris
asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many handicapped children of pre-school age are at present attending playgroups or nursery schools where they are cared for by specially trained staff, and whether she is encouraging local authorities to increase such provision in view of the fact that these facilities are even more essential for handicapped children and their families than other children.
§ Mr. St. John-Stevas
Information about the number of handicapped children in ordinary nursery schools and classes is not available; but local education authorities have been encouraged to increase provision for them under the nursery education expansion programme beginning 225W in 1974–75. A letter was sent to chief education officers on 24th September giving guidance about handicapped children in ordinary nursery schools and classes and about their admission to special nursery units. In January 1973 there were about 3,300 children of pre-school age in special schools for the handicapped. Playgroups are the responsibility of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Services.