§ Mr. Keith Hill
To ask the Secretary of State for Education (1) what action he is taking to ensure that children's special educational needs are being identified and met at the earliest possible stage;
(2) what action he is taking to improve the information and support available to parents during the full assessment and drawing up of statements on children with special educational needs.
§ Mr. Forth
The Education Bill, currently before Parliament, provides for the Secretary of State to issue a code of practice which will give practical guidance to which LEAs must have regard when fulfilling their duties towards children with SEN. The Government have tabled amendments in another place, which, if accepted, would ensure that the code applied to all LEA maintained and self-governing (GM) schools and offered those schools guidance on early action to identify, assess and monitor pupils with special educational needs. The Government envisage one of the guiding principles of the code will be that it should promote partnership between LEAs and parents, not least by ensuring that parents are kept fully informed of the authority's thinking and the reasons268W behind an authority's decisions at all stages of the process of making assessments and statements. The guidance will be tightly defined to ensure that all children who need an assessment and subsequently a statement are properly safeguarded and will ensure that full parental involvement is encouraged at all stages.