Special needs in school boost

SCHools look set for extra special needs training, in a bid to reduce the rising number of SEN statements.

They will also be held more accountable for how they spend the portion of their budget allocated by education authorities to cover special needs.

The proposals are expected to feature in an "action programme", due out next week in response to consultations on last year's Green Paper. They may need to reassure parents and some schools who see the statementing process as a guarantee of extra money for their child.

The programme will set a series of targets, and is expected to trigger a significant amount of additional research and case-study work on specific aspects of the service, to establish what works best. Key features of the Green Paper included the teaching of special needs children in mainstream settings, working with parents, and tackling emotional and behavioural difficulties.

A member of the National Advisory Group on SEN, which is chaired by schools minister Estelle Morris, said: "The action programme is going to be very strong on beefing up the school-based stages of the SEN code of practice.

"The culture has got to change so parents realise they don't have to have a statement before their child gets the resource. Schools don't always disabuse parents of that notion."

She added: "We have never been absolutely clear as to how schools spend their SEN budget."

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