HC Deb 13 February 2004 vol 418 cc196-7W
Mr. Nigel Jones

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if he will make a statement on education provision for(a) children and (b) adults with profound and multiple learning disabilities. [153785]

Mr. Stephen Twigg

The Education Act 1996 places duties on local education authorities (LEAs) and all LEA-maintained schools to identify, assess and make suitable provision to meet children's special educational needs (SEN), including the SEN of children with profound and multiple learning difficulties. In doing so, maintained schools and LEAs must have regard to the SEN Code of Practice, which gives practical guidance on identifying and meeting children's SEN, covering all areas of need—communication and interaction; cognition and learning; behaviour, emotional and social development and sensory and physical needs.

The Government's new SEN Strategy "Removing Barriers to Achievement", launched on 11 February, will build on the improvements to the statutory framework brought about by the Special Educational Needs and Disability Act and the SEN Code of Practice, both 2001. Children with Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities will benefit particularly from the proposals in the Strategy to improve early support for children with special needs from birth, to improve multi-agency working throughout education and in the transition to adult life, and to transform special schools, giving them an important role to play in providing education for children with the most severe and complex needs and sharing their specialist skills and knowledge with mainstream schools to provide children with a range of inclusive experiences.

My Department has strengthened the rights of people with learning difficulties and/or disabilities (LDD), including those with profound and multiple learning disabilities, to appropriate post-16 provision through a combination of legislative change and collaborative work with key organisations representing disabled learners. Under Section 13 of the, Learning and Skills Act 2000, the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) has a specific responsibility to help young people and adults with LDD. Although the LSC does not develop policies relating to specific groups of learners, its broad remit means that it can fund a wide range of provision to ensure these learners have access to suitable provision which meets their needs and, where appropriate, the additional support they require to undertake it.