HC Deb 02 February 1993 vol 218 cc150-1W
27. Mr. Rowe

To ask the Secretary of State for Education if he will make a statement on the availability of professional services to children with special educational needs.

Mr. Forth

I have this last week, in the Committee stage of the Education Bill, tabled a new clause which puts beyond doubt the ability of local education authorities to continue to provide a range of professional support services to all pupils with special educational needs.

Mr. Dafis

To ask the Secretary of State for Education what specific action is currently undertaken by his Department to assist parents who wish to move their child with special education needs from the special school sector to the integrated mainstream school sector.

Mr. Forth

The Education Act 1981 and the Education Bill presently before Parliament place local education authorities under a duty to secure that a child with special educational needs is educated in a mainstream school, so long as certain conditions apply and such integration is compatible with the wishes of the child's parents. Both that Act and the Bill provide for the annual review of statements of special educational needs. Part of the purpose of such reviews is to consider whether the school placement remains appropriate. As a result of a Government amendment the Bill provides for the Secretary of State to make regulations governing those reviews.

Schedule 9 of the Bill provides a new right for parents of children with statements, subject to certain timing conditions, to ask the LEA to substitute a particular named LEA-maintained or grant-maintained school of their choice for the one named in the statement. Subject to certain conditions, the authority will have to comply and regulations may set time limits within which the authority must take action. If the authority do not comply, the parent will have a right of appeal to the tribunal.

Mr. Cousins

To ask the Secretary of State for Education if he will give the number of INSET courses and the numbers of teachers completing training from them, for teachers of young people with special learning difficulties for 1990–91, 1991–92, 1992–93 and that projected for 1993–94.

Mr. Forth

All the figures requested are not held centrally. However, this Department provides funds to LEAs under the grants for education support and training (GEST) programme to support them with the costs of such training. In 1992–93, funds were allocated to support the INSET training of 296 teachers of children with severe learning difficulties (SLD). Of these, 206 were teachers beginning new courses.

In 1993–94, the eligibility for grant under the GEST programme has been extended to support teacher training in all areas of special educational needs. As a result, the amount of eligible expenditure to be supported has been increased by nearly 40 per cent. to £10 million in order to meet the expansion in training activities. It is too early to say with certainty how many teachers of children with severe learning difficulties will be trained by LEAs under GEST in 1993–94, but preliminary indications suggest that figures will be comparable with those for previous years.

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