HC Deb 24 January 2000 vol 343 c29W
Mr. Robertson

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what is the procedure which must be followed by local education authorities before closing special needs schools; who makes the final decision in such instances; and if he will make a statement. [105577]

Jacqui Smith

[holding answer 19 January 2000]: A local education authority wishing to close a special school must first consult all interested parties, including the school itself, parents who have children at the school and any other local education authorities placing children at the school. If, after consultation, the local education authority decide to proceed with closure they must publish notices advising of their intention and providing information about alternative provision to be made for pupils who would be displaced by the closure. The notice must also be sent to whomever will be deciding the proposals. Usually, this will be the local School Organisation Committee; exceptionally, where a local School Organisation Plan has not been agreed, the decision will fall to the Secretary of State.

Following publication of a proposal there is a statutory period during which anyone can send objections to the proposal to the local education authority. The authority then have a further statutory period in which to send their comments on the objections to the School Organisation Committee (or the Secretary of State).

The School Organisation Committee's decision on statutory proposals, or that of the Secretary of State, is final. However, in cases where the School Organisation Committee cannot reach a unanimous view, the proposal must be referred to an independent adjudicator for decision.

Mr. Boswell

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment how many students with special educational needs receive an assessment and have a plan prepared for their transition from school to further education, as a proportion of those so entitled; and what action he is taking to ensure that local authorities carry out their statutory obligations in this area. [106039]

Jacqui Smith

This information is not collected centrally. We would however expect LEAs and schools to have regard to their statutory duty to carry out a transitional review of a young person's statement of special educational needs following his or her 14th birthday; and to produce a transition plan covering all aspects of the young person's future development. The evidence is that LEAs and schools are meeting their obligations in this area. My Department is however ready to investigate any cases brought to its attention in which a school or LEA is not so complying.

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