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Head backs better deal for SEN leavers

School-leavers with special educational needs deserve more than a career watching daytime television, says headteacher Cliff Warwick.

Mr Warwick, of Trinity Fields special school in Ystrad Mynach, Caerphilly, spoke out at the unacceptable way young school-leavers with SENs are treated following the launch of the third and final Assembly report on special-needs provision in Wales.

The report, drafted by a cross-party committee, recommended that more should be done to convince employers to take on pupils with a special-school education.

Calls were also made for a champion to be appointed to fight for the rights of SEN school-leavers when they apply for jobs, as well as counselling sessions to prepare them for life at work and in further education.

Assembly figures reveal that employment rates of SEN school-leavers in Wales are often as low as 5 per cent, compared with up to 50 per cent in other countries.

"For those youngsters with more severe and complex needs, the most likely outcome on leaving school is a career of daytime television, with social services to care. That is totally unacceptable," said Mr Warwick.

The report, which emerged from a review by the Assembly's education, lifelong learning and skills committee, also recommended more ring-fenced funding for schools and the sharing of good practice between agencies supporting SEN pupils.

Peter Black, who chaired the committee, said it was vital that the education of these pupils was not wasted.

Janet Ryder, Plaid Cymru's education spokeswoman, said it was now up to the Assembly government to ensure the committee's recommendations were acted upon. She pointed out that previous proposals to address a lack of language therapists had still not been acted upon.

The report was launched at Trinity Fields on Monday. At the event, Chris McClure, a 17-year-old pupil at the school, spoke about work experience he had recently undertaken with the Assembly government.

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