Special needs strategy is needed

7th April 1995 at 01:00
Your small item "Forth's plea" (TES, March 24) reported that Eric Forth, Minister of State for Education, wanted teachers and health workers to work together more to the benefit of children with special educational needs. Hear, hear!

However, those at the "sharp end" cannot counteract the total lack of policy at local and national government levels. There is no pol- icy framework for the National Health Service in respect of SEN; there is patchy support at health authority level for the idea of co-operation; there are not enough speech therapists, occupational therapists or physiotherapists to offer assessments, let alone therapy.

While education authorities are obliged by law to make provision for each and every special educational need they identify, there is no such compulsion on health authorities to meet the non-educational needs of a child.

I would ask Mr Forth to sit down with his ministerial colleagues first to determine a real strategy for inter-agency co-operation, matched with the resources required to implement it. Only then can he insist that the staff delivering the services do the same.

EILEEN GASCOIGNE

Action for Special Educational Needs

Dunsley Orchard

London Road

Tring, Herts

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