HL Deb 10 February 1998 vol 585 cc161-2WA
Lord Morris of Manchester

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many children with autism are currently not receiving the schooling or other educational provision appropriate to their special needs and are in the care of staff with no specialised training for teaching them; and [HL459]

In respect of children with special educational needs and particularly autism, what is the current policy and provision for:

  1. (a) assessing children to identify such special needs;
  2. (b) specialist provision for such children at school;
  3. (c) specialist training for teachers; and
  4. WA 162
  5. (d)assessing the satisfaction of parents of such children with their children's education. [HL460]

Baroness Blackstone

Schools and local education authorities are under a duty to identify children with special educational needs, including those with autistic spectrum disorders, and to make provision which the needs of individual children call for. In doing so, schools and LEAs must have regard to statutory guidance contained in theCode of Practice on the Identification and Assessment of Children with Special Educational Needs. The Government do not collect centrally figures by type of special educational need.

Placements of children with statements must be able to provide the facilities and equipment, staffing arrangements and curriculum required to meet their individual needs, as specified in the child's statement.

There are no requirements for teachers of children with autism to hold specific qualifications, but training for such teachers is a priority in the current year's SEN element of Grants for Education Support and Training. Returns for previous years show that LEAs have been increasingly using GEST funding to support autism-related training, and that in 1996–97 some 1,155 teachers were trained under this programme.

Parents have the right to appeal to the independent Special Educational Needs Tribunal against a wide range of decisions by LEAs in respect of their child's needs. The report by the President of the Tribunal shows that, in the year ended August 1997, 6 per cent. of appeals to the tribunal related to children with autism.

The SEN Green Paper Excellence for all children suggested autism as one area of provision where the department could promote research into best practice and disseminate the results. The DfEE has accordingly commissioned as urgent review of autism research, and is co-operating with the Local Government Association on research into the comparative outcomes from different educational interventions for children with autism.