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 glad that the Whole School SEND Consortium has 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 15,000 schools across the eight Regional School Commissioner regions.
It is a legal requirement for qualified teachers of classes of pupils with sensory impairments to hold the relevant Mandatory Qualification for Sensory Impairment (MQSI). To offer MQSIs, providers must be approved by the department. The Government has developed a new approval process to determine providers of MQSIs from the start of the 2023/24 academic year. The Government's aim is to ensure a steady supply of teachers of children with visual, hearing and multi-sensory impairments, in both specialist and mainstream settings.
In the SEND and Alternative Provision Green Paper, the Department of Health and Social Care committed to work with Health Education England, NHS England and the DfE to build on existing evidence and produce a clearer picture of demand for support for children and young people with SEND from the therapy and diagnostic workforce. This will allow workforce planning to focus on the priority areas of the health workforce for meeting the needs of children and young people with SEND.
As part of the SEND Green Paper, DfE has pledged to introduce a number of measures, including increasing the total investment in the schools' budget with an additional £1 billion during the 2022-23 academic year to support children and young people with the most complex needs. A further £2.6 billion will be invested over the next three years to deliver new places and improve existing provision for SEND pupils.
Furthermore, in March 2022, the Department announced High Needs Provision Capital Allocations (HNPCA) amounting to over £1.4 billion of new investment. Prior to this, the Government had also invested a total of £300 million HNPCA funding in the 2021/22 financial year and £365 million through the Special Provision Capital Fund from the 2018/19 financial year to the 2020/21 financial year.
Unfortunately, I will be unable to attend the Westminster Hall debate on 22 March 2023 due to prior Parliamentary commitments. However, please be assured that I will look carefully at any briefing provided for this debate, given that this is such an important issue.