HC Deb 26 May 2004 vol 421 cc1649-50W
Mrs. Iris Robinson

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what estimate he has made of the costs of educating every child currently in a special school in Northern Ireland in a mainstream school. [175222]

Mr. Gardiner

I have not made an estimate of this kind. The forthcoming Special Educational Needs and Disability Order aims to strengthen the right of children with special educational needs to be educated in mainstream schools. Any costs arising from this will be dependent on the nature and extent of the exercise of this right over time, and will depend on the needs of the individual child. Educational provision will continue to be tailored to meet these needs, whether in mainstream schools, special units attached to mainstream schools, or special schools. I anticipate that special schools will continue to play a vital role in supporting pupils with significant and complex needs, in accordance with parental wishes and professional advice, and that they are likely to develop their role further in the future in the provision of specialist advice and support to mainstream schools.

The Government's investment of significant capital funding in the schools estate will continue to improve disabled access. In particular, all new and recently built or refurbished schools will comply with the requirements for physical access contained in the draft Special Educational Needs and Disability Order.