I believe it is vital that young people with disabilities can access the services they need for a good education. I am assured that the system for identifying and meeting the needs of children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) is designed to deliver the right support where it is needed.
To be awarded teacher status, all trainees must satisfy the teachers’ standards, including a requirement that they have a clear understanding of the needs of SEND pupils and are able to support them. I am pleased that the Whole School SEND Consortium have been awarded a contract to embed SEND within approaches to school improvement and to equip the school workforce to deliver high quality teaching for all pupils with SEND. The programme of work includes building a Community of Practice with the involvement of 10,000 schools by 2020, and 15,000 schools by 2022, across the 8 Regional School Commissioner regions.
Colleagues tell me the Department for Education has considered the National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS) proposals for a government funded bursary scheme. Officials are now working with the NDCS and other organisations in the sensory impairment sector to identify other solutions to support teachers wishing to train as Teachers of the Deaf, and qualified teachers of the sensory impaired more widely.
More generally, I was delighted to hear that £300 million in funding has been allocated for 2021-22 to create new school places for children with SEND. Ministers have also assured me that high needs funding will be increased by a further £780 million for 2022-23, which is specifically for children with more complex SEND.