§ Mr. Hannam
asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what plans he has to increase parental choice of schools for parents of children with special educational needs.
§ Mr. Ashley
asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what plans he has for extending and improving the quality of teacher training for those who teach children with special educational needs.
§ Mr. Dunn
The Government are committed to providing the highest quality of training for specialist teachers of children with special educational needs. The change to an entirely in-service specialist training should improve the education of children with special educational needs by ensuring that newly-qualified specialist teachers have received a high level of both general and specialist teacher training. On 1 April my right hon. Friend introduced a new scheme to support expenditure by local education authorities on training teachers and other related professionals. The scheme helps authorities to organise in-service training more systematically so as to meet both national and local training needs and priorities. The national priority areas for 1987–88 and 1988–89 include training to meet the special educational needs of pupils with learning difficulties in schools.
Expenditure incurred by local authorities in this area will he supported by grant at a rate of 70 per cent. up to limits set by my right hon. Friend, and expenditure beyond that is eligible for further grant at a rate of 50 per cent.
§ Mr. Ashley
asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science (1) what plans he has to ensure that funding arrangements for schools which receive grant aid from central Government will not result in discrimination against those children whose special educational provision may require more space or equipment or more intensive teacher involvement;
(2) what plans he has for ensuring the continuation of provision for children with disabilities in those schools which opt out of local education authority control.
§ Mr. Dunn
It is proposed that a grant maintained school would receive the same level of funding from the Secretary of State as it would have done from the local education authority had it not opted out. The Government intend to issue shortly a consultative document which will give details of the possible shape and nature of the scheme.