Special educational needs leaders in schools should pioneer social support and liaison with families and the community as well as focusing on learning, according to education minister Sarah McCarthy-Fry.
Speaking yesterday at a conference to launch the national representative body for SEN experts, the Federation of Leaders in Special Education, the junior schools minister also said special schools should consider formal collaborations such as federations and trusts.
She said she believes SEN leadership in "21st century schools" should involve the mainstream and the special needs sectors working together and stressed the importance of high quality specialist teachers for all pupils.
The federation was first planned three years ago by the then schools minister, Andrew Adonis, to be a "collective voice". The Department for Children Schools and Families gave Pounds 150,000 to the federation when it formed.
The federation's aim is to "shape and deliver SEN policy to ensure every child's needs are met".
They do this by working closely with ministers, encouraging co-operation between schools and promoting inclusive education.
Mrs McCarthy-Fry also gave more details of how the Pounds 12 million identified for SEN in the Children's Plan will be spent.
Gerry Gamble, FLSE chairman, commented: "Working in partnership with leading organisations such as Ofsted, TDA and nasen we aim to shape and deliver SEN policy to ensure every child's needs are met.
"It is our mission to create a powerful voice for SEN leaders and to fully support the development of SEN networks in all regions across the UK."
Other conference speakers included Pauline Pittman and Jenny Digges, regional SEN advisers with the National Strategies, who talked about the progression of children who struggle with core subjects.