HC Deb 17 May 2004 vol 421 cc712-3W
Mr. Simmonds

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what assessment his Department has made of the effectiveness of special educational needs co-ordinators. [171367]

Margaret Hodge

Special educational needs co-ordinators (SENCOs) play a vital role, in conjunction with head teachers and governing bodies, in co-ordinating schools' work on identifying, assessing and meeting the needs of children with special educational needs.

The Office for Standards in Education considers the effectiveness of schools in meeting the needs of all learners and this takes account of the contribution made by SENCOs. Ofsted is currently carrying out a thematic study of the implementation of the inclusion framework introduced through the Special Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001 and the Special Educational Needs Code of Practice 2001. The code of practice introduced changes to the school based elements of SEN provision, including measures designed to help reduce paper work for SENCOs.

Mrs. Brooke

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what steps he is taking to ensure that teachers have appropriate training to identify and to respond to the special needs of children in school settings. [172342]

Margaret Hodge

New standards for Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) came into effect in September 2002 and new induction standards came into force a year later. Both place a greater emphasis on special educational needs (SEN). The Department's guidance on induction also reflects the duties of head teachers and schools under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995.

In order to be awarded QTS, trainee teachers must demonstrate that they understand their responsibilities under the statutory SEN Code of Practice, know how to seek advice from specialists on less common types of SEN, can differentiate their teaching to meet the needs of pupils, including those with SEN, and can identify and support pupils who experience behavioural, emotional and social difficulties.

The standards for the Induction Support Programme for those awarded QTS require that newly qualified teachers can demonstrate that they can plan effectively to meet the needs of pupils in their classes with SEN, with or without a statement, and, in consultation with the SEN co-ordinator, contribute to the preparation and implementation of individual education plans or the equivalent.

Once qualified, teachers are expected to identify their developmental needs through performance management arrangements, and to address identified needs, including improving their teaching skills in the area of SEN, by undertaking appropriate professional development.

Our recently published SEN Strategy, "Removing Barriers to Achievement", recognises the importance of training. We are committed to working closely with the Teacher Training Agency, higher education institutions and other interested parties to ensure that effective arrangements are in place.