HC Deb 03 March 1999 vol 326 cc786-7W
Mr. Wigley

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what are his arrangements for monitoring the implementation of his Department's guidance on best practice in providing education for(a) those with learning difficulties and (b) children with autism spectrum disorders. [73647]

Mr. Hain

Local authorities and schools are responsible for ensuring that their respective duties for the provision of education to children with special educational needs (SEN), including children with learning difficulties associated with autistic spectrum disorders, are discharged in accordance with the legislation and the associated guidance issued by the Department, principally the 'Code of Practice on the Identification and Assessment of SEN' [ISBN 0 85522 444 4].

Schools are subject to inspection by The Office of Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Schools in Wales (OHMCI) which is responsible for evaluating and reporting on standards in each school to the Secretary of State. Inspections include an assessment of the provision being made for pupils with SEN, having regard to guidance issued by the Department.

In 1996, OHMCI published a report entitled 'The Implementation of the SEN Code of Practice in Primary Schools in Wales' following a survey in primary schools during the two years following the introduction of the Code in 1994. A copy of its report was placed in the Library of the House. More recently, OHMCI has carried out a survey of the National Curriculum in special schools. Its report will be published later this year.

'Shaping the Future for Special Education—An Action Programme for Wales', published in January, explained that from September this year LEAs will be required to publish details of their SEN policies in their Education Strategic Plans. As part of the new arrangements for delegating funding to schools from 1 April, LEAs will publish notional funding figures for each school for the SEN provision they are expected to make within their delegated budgets; and publish details of the funding for SEN support services which the LEA will provide centrally. These arrangements will help to improve transparency and accountability. A copy of the 'Action Programme' can be obtained from the Library of the House.

Following the transfer of functions, this issue will be a matter for the National Assembly.

Forward to