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New deal for special needs pupils in service families

Teachers should work with local authorities to ensure pupils who move frequently because their parents are in the armed services still get help for special educational needs, writes Kerra Maddern.

In a letter sent to all school governors, Hardip Begol, deputy director of the Department for Children, Schools and Families, said many military parents were concerned about gaps in special needs provision. The move is part of a drive to improve the way schools look after service children.

Mr Begol said statutory guidance will be included in the SEN code of practice when it is next revised. Parents can register children with the Children's Education Advisory Service, established by the Ministry of Defence to provide advice and support when they change schools.

"It is important that special educational provision is put in place speedily when a child from such a family arrives at a new school," Mr Begol said.

Since 2008, the Annual Schools Census has recorded the number of service children in schools. Mr Begol said that teachers should also ensure they are aware of the numbers and identities of pupils from military families on their rolls, particularly if they are a school away from an armed forces base.

Mr Begol also said the pupil record and other information about the pupil should be sent on in advance before they are transferred to other schools so that special educational support can start as soon as they arrive.

He said he plans to send a separate letter about provision for service children with statements of special educational need.

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