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Pupil Support & Access
Special Educational Needs
Update 3
November 1999
This newsletter reports on further
developments in special educational
needs since November 1998 when DfEE
published Meeting Special Educational
Needs: A programme of action
All schools, LEAs,
Social Services
Health Authorities
and NHS Trusts in
Date of Issue: 12/11/99

Progress in Implementing the SEN Action Programme

Meeting Special Educational Needs: A programme of action (DfEE November 1998) was published
following consultation on the SEN Green Paper. To support the Action Programme we virtually doubled -
to £35 million - the targeted support for SEN under the Standards Fund in 1999-2000. Jacqui Smith has
recently announced a further substantial increase to £55 million for 2000-2001. SEN Update 2 (DfEE
June 1999) reported on the progress made during the first half of 1999 on each of the Action
Programme’s five key areas. Recent key developments are:

Regional Co-ordination
Encouraging and developing partnerships to better meet special needs is a key theme within the SEN
Action Programme. Spearheading action in this area is the expansion of our SEN regional co-ordination
projects to the rest of England by April 2000. All local education authorities (LEAs) in England have now
signed up to take part.

The projects bring together groups of LEAs, the private and voluntary sectors, health, social services,
training providers and other interested local partners. The aim is that they will help to establish a more
effective co-ordination of special needs provision and services. This will ensure their general availability -
particularly for low incidence disabilities - and efficiency.

The five phase 1 projects are now firmly established. They cover the West Midlands, Merseyside, South
West, London and Eastern regions. Each is led by a facilitator and the focus of the project is determined
by the local partnership. Phase 1 is looking at a wide range of subjects including inclusion, autistic
spectrum disorders, hearing and visual impairment and post 16 issues. To expand the projects to the rest
of the country we are setting up six new phase 2 projects. These will cover the East Midlands, North
West, Northern, Yorkshire and Humber, South East and South Central regions. These other projects will
come on stream fully during the spring term 2000. The map below shows the regions taking part in
phases 1 and 2.

We are not seeking to create new boundaries or barriers. The projects are about voluntary co-operation.
A number of the projects are working together informally and some local authorities are acting as
observers on projects outside of their region. We are providing pump priming funding for two years. Once
they are established we hope the projects will continue indefinitely.

Further information on the projects can be found on our web site at www.dfee.gov.uk/sen

New Partnerships with Special Schools

As part of our practical approach to promoting greater inclusion a special/mainstream links working group has been
set up. It includes SENCOs, headteachers and others from both sectors. The group’s task is to identify and
disseminate examples of good practice in establishing effective links between special and mainstream schools
within the context of inclusive education. The group is producing a CD ROM training package which will be
launched in the summer at events jointly run by the National Association for Special Educational Needs and the
DfEE. The group is gathering information during this term and would welcome any examples you may have before
31 December 1999 that could be used in the package.

Multi-agency Working

The Health Act 1999 received Royal Assent at the end of June. Section 31 of the Act provides for
partnership arrangements between health bodies and local authorities so that health services provided by
the NHS can be linked more closely to health related functions of local authorities. These new powers will
come into force in April 2000.

The new arrangements are designed to lead to improvements in services which would not otherwise have
happened. They allow for pooling of resources, lead commissioning and integrated provision. This does
not mean that a particular agency sheds its statutory responsibility for a given service, rather it confers
greater flexibility as to the method of delivery and ensures improved inter-agency working.
Review of the SEN Code of Practice

During the summer we started work on revising the Code in the light of the hundreds of responses we
received to our earlier consultation paper. The responses showed general agreement with many of the
changes we proposed.

We believe the revised Code will be of most use to schools and others if it takes account of the changes
flowing from our White Paper, Learning to Succeed: a new framework for post-16 learning, and the
forthcoming recommendations of the Disability Rights Task Force. It should also reflect the outcomes of
the working parties on speech and language therapy and on the future role of educational psychologists.
We shall not be able to take
account of these until next spring. By then we shall also have received the report of the current research
by Newcastle University on the ‘thresholds’ which schools use for placing children with different forms of
SEN at stages 2 and 3 of the Code of Practice; this will be helpful in producing guidance on the
placement of children under the proposed School Action and School Action Plus. We now intend
therefore to consult on a revised Code of Practice next summer, and expect the revised Code to come
into effect at the start of the 2001-2002 academic year.

SEN Tribunal and Conciliation
The SEN Action Programme announced our intention to improve the effectiveness of the SEN Tribunal.
We have recently invited comments from statutory and other organisations in England and Wales on:

 draft revised regulations for the SEN Tribunal; and

 timescales for implementation of Tribunal orders.

The main changes to the regulations include: strengthening the rights of children; a new two stage
appeals procedure; new arrangements for late evidence; and a change in requirements for membership
of lay panels.

We are also consulting on draft guidance for LEAs in England on resolving SEN disputes through
conciliation. This draws on recent small scale DfEE research and is designed to be helpful without being

Learning Support Assistants
Learning Support Assistants play an important role in supporting pupils with SEN and in helping to make
inclusive education effective for them. In October we published the results of a research project on
Learning Support Assistants (LSAs) in schools carried out by the University of Manchester (Research
Report No. 161). The aims of the study were: to obtain the views of a range of stakeholders, including
parents, teachers, senior staff in schools, LEAs, pupils and LSAs about the role, management and career
structure of LSAs. Key findings show that:

 There is no consistent pattern of working practices for LSAs.

 There is no clear distinction between the work of LSAs with pupils with SEN and that of other general
  teaching assistants.

 The lack of planning time for LSAs and teachers was consistently reported as a key factor that
    reduces the
effectiveness of their work.

 Training at present, is highly variable with no common core. There is a need for a nationally
  recognised and accredited training programme for LSAs.

The research findings support the proposals in the Teachers Green Paper for a single profession for
teaching assistants with a unified career structure. They will also inform the development of good practice
guidance for all teaching assistants, including those working with children with SEN.

Disability Discrimination Act (DDA)

The provision of education is currently excluded from Part III of the DDA (provision of goods, facilities and
services). However, with effect from 1 October 1999, where schools provide non-educational services,
such as holding governing body meetings to present the annual report to parents or community use of
school premises, they have a legal duty to make reasonable adjustments for disabled people to enable
them to access services. For example, schools may in future need to provide information for disabled
parents in an alternative format or change their policy to allow guide dogs onto the school premises.
Further information on this and other aspects of the DDA are contained in Circular 20/99 What the DDA
1995 means for Schools and LEAs, obtainable from the DfEE Publications Centre from the end of
November. The Circular will also be available on the Internet at

Mainstreaming SEN in Other Schools Policies

Since the launch of the SEN Action Programme renewed efforts have been made to ensure that the
needs of pupils with SEN are fully considered in the development, implementation and evaluation of all
new Government education initiatives. Examples of the steps that have been taken to promote inclusion
and increase access include:

National Literacy Strategy - The National Foundation for Educational Research are carrying out a
review to collect, collate, review and disseminate the available research evidence relating to the
development of literacy for pupils with significant special educational needs to support practitioners
working with these pupils.

We have allocated £22 million to provide training and support through the Additional Literacy Support
programme to help pupils in the middle years of primary education who have fallen behind. An extra £48
million has also been made available to expand the popular ‘Booster’ programme, which will provide extra
literacy and numeracy classes for year six pupils in need of assistance. Both programmes will include
pupils with SEN. We also invited Local
Education Authorities to bid for a project piloting an early intervention programme at Key Stage 1. The
intention is to help those children who are already having difficulties reading in year 1 to get back on track.

National Numeracy Strategy - In preparation for the recent launch of the National Numeracy Strategy,
SENCOs attended numeracy training conferences organised by LEAs. These were well received. In
December schools will receive further development materials targeted at supporting pupils with SEN in
both special and mainstream schools.

Review of the National Curriculum - The Secretary of State announced his decisions on the revised
National Curriculum in September. The new general statement on inclusion will provide guidance on how
teachers should set suitable learning challenges, respond to the diverse needs of pupils and overcome
potential barriers to learning and assessment for individuals or groups of pupils. Work is also continuing
on subject specific guidance to support the inclusion of pupils with SEN across the curriculum.

Early Learning Goals - The QCA booklet, Early Learning Goals, which was published in October
following consultation on the review of desirable learning outcomes, takes account of the needs of
children with SEN. It acknowledges the diversity of young children and the need to recognise the
achievements of all children in working towards the early learning goals. More detailed guidance will be
available next summer.

Study Support - A number of special schools were successful in their grant applications from the New
Opportunities Fund for out of school learning activities in October. Some applied in their own right, and
others as part of LEA-wide bids. Alongside this new source of funding, study support money is available
through the Standards Fund. A Guide to Study Support in Special Schools has been published by
Education Extra recently.

Specialist Schools Programme - Since October 1998 secondary special schools have been eligible to
apply for Technology, Language, Sports or Arts College designation. Three special schools have now
been approved as Technology Colleges - two have been jointly designated and the third has been jointly
designated with a mainstream school. Examples of the activities which are planned include:

 developing an interactive website to encourage increased computer literacy and confidence among

   pupils with SEN in communicating with others;

 ensuring fuller access to design and technology facilities for more pupils;

 supporting the LEA’s policy of inclusion by using ICT to enable more pupils with SEN to access
  mainstream secondary provision;

 encouraging the use of school facilities for wider community projects; and

 increasing staff expertise in technology in collaboration with nearby FE Colleges and training

Beacon Schools - Good practice in the area of SEN is reaching more and more schools as the Beacon
schools initiative expands. From the beginning of this term around 25% of the current network of 200
Beacon schools, which includes 16 special schools, are involved in activities designed to disseminate
good practice in the area of SEN. They are providing guidance and support in a wide range of areas
including working with children with physical disabilities, severe learning difficulties, emotional and
behavioural difficulties and autism. They are also providing training for SENCOs in other schools. The
Beacon network is set to expand to 1,000 schools by 2002.

Target Setting - Guidance on target setting for pupils with SEN, including the use of differentiated scales
for assessing pupils’ achievement below level 3 (the P scales) is contained in the joint DfEE/QCA booklet
Supporting the target setting process: Guidance for effective target setting for pupils with special
educational needs, available from DfEE publications centre.

The DfEE and QCA are now working together to develop assessment criteria that schools can use to
demonstrate the progress of pupils’ emotional and behavioural development. The University of
Birmingham has been commissioned to undertake this work. Draft assessment criteria will be trialled in
sample schools, mainstream and special, during next spring term. A guidance booklet, incorporating the
assessment criteria, will be published in autumn 2000.

P Scales Data Collection - During summer 1999, the QCA commissioned a pilot project with Durham
University to collect information on pupil performance measured using the P scales and to establish a
database. Data has been contributed on a voluntary basis from a sample of schools within LEAs who
expressed an interest in participating in this project. It is hoped that the database will provide a starting
point in gaining a detailed picture of the progress and attainment of pupils who are working significantly
below the expected national curriculum levels at each key stage.

SEN Research Projects

Dyslexia - The Helen Arkell Dyslexia Centre’s final report, Individual Styles in learning to spell: Improving
spelling in
children with literacy difficulties and all children in mainstream schools was published in June (Research
Report No. 108).

Parent Partnership - Research by the National Children’s Bureau on Parent Partnership and Special
Educational Needs: Perspectives on Good Practice was published in October (Research Report No. 162).
The qualitative study on which the report is based involved examining a range of partnership activities in
order to identify emerging good practice among schools, LEAs and voluntary organisations. This included
examination of LEA based parent partnership services and parallel services offered by local schools and
voluntary organisations.

English as an Additional Language - The final report of research and developmental work by Professor
Tony Cline, University of Luton, into the relationship between pupils learning English as an additional
language, and the identification and assessment of SEN is expected to be published in January 2000.

Special Educational Needs Seminars
Three half day seminars brought together the main government departments and agencies, and external

partners for an exchange of views on the key educational issues in the areas of dyslexia, autism and
visual impairment. The seminars, held in July, September and October, were well received. Ways in
which individual expertise and resources can be pooled were identified, and a consensus reached over a
shared agenda for tackling issues in the areas of early identification, teacher training, the provision of
specialist support and the use of ICT. Informal working groups will be set up to take matters forward. A
further seminar focusing on educational issues in the area of
emotional and behavioural difficulties will take place this month.

SEN Publications

National SEN Specialist Standards - These will be published by the Teacher Training Agency later this
term. The standards have been developed in conjunction with teachers, headteachers, LEAs, teacher
trainers, and others. They have been written to help teachers in mainstream schools, special schools,
pupil referral units and those working in support and advisory services to identify specific training needs in
relation to the effective teaching of pupils with complex and severe SEN.

Report of the Review of the Role of Educational Psychology Services - This report of the Working
Group on Educational Psychologists will be published next term. Details of the key findings will be
included in the next edition of SEN Update.

Good Practice Guide on SEN for Early Years Development and Childcare Partnerships - This
guide which will set out our expectations of Partnerships in relation to early education and childcare for
children with SEN or disabilties will be published later this term.

Are you Prepared for the Future - Inclusive Education - This
leaflet published by Disability Equality in Education (DEE)
advertises courses for schools and colleges on inclusion and
disability equality. The leaflet, further information, and bookings
are available from DEE, Unit 4Q, Leroy House, 436 Essex Road,
London N1 3QP. Tel: 0207 359 2855.

Comments and Further Copies
We expect to publish a further Update in the spring term. Comments on this newsletter should be sent to
Glenn Bedford at:       SEN Division
                        Great Smith Street
                        London SW1P 3BT
                        Tel: 0171 925 5545
                        Fax: 0171 925 6986
                        Email: glenn.bedford@dfee.gov.uk

Further copies of this newsletter (stock code SENUP3) and summary versions of all the research reports
mentioned are available from the DfEE publications centre on 0845 60 222 60.

The Update 3 is also available on the Internet at http:// www.dfee.gov.uk/sen/update.htm


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