MEMORANDUM FROM THE SOUTHERN EDUCATION
AND LIBRARY BOARD
The Board's current expenditure on Special Needs
Education is £10 million (1997-98 financial year). A breakdown
of this expenditure is shown in Annex 1. Expenditure over the
past seven years has increased annually at a rate of approximately
10 per cent. The figures relating to number of children statemented
and the support provided are shown in Annex 2.
The demand for Special Needs Education has grown
steadily since the introduction of statementing in 1986. In addition
to the demand being prompted by statutory agencies, voluntary
groups are requiring the Board to consider a wide range of minority
handicaps which require specialist provision. Specialist support
e.g., in areas such as Dyslexia, Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity
Disorders (ADHD), and Dyspraxia arises from an improved understanding
of the education process and from parents/groups who believe that
"education " is appropriate and should be available
to children with such disabilities.
The Board, through its officers and committees,
continually assess the needs of the community for education provision.
The Board's Special Education Committee, in addition to its role
in formally statementing children with Special Educational Needs,
monitors appeals and listens to representation from parents of
pupils considered to have such needs.
The Board has formal mechanisms for consulting
schools on the in-service training needs of teachers and other
staff in schools, including staff who teach pupils in both mainstream
schools and special schools.
4. SHORTFALL IN
The Board has in place a number of specialist
facilities including 63 special units in mainstream schools and
six special schools. The Board has identified the need to replace
three of the special schools at a cost of approximately £6.1
A recent innovation has been the creation of
a centre for pupils with emotional and behavioural problems. Recent
trends in suspensions and expulsions suggest that additional centres
will be required to provide appropriate therapy alongside normal
The Department of Education has indicated to
the Board its expectation that, under its behavioural management
strategy, further pupil referral units will be required including
a Board-provided behavioural management team.
Schools' main concerns relate to the lack of
staff time and resources (clerical and administrative) needed
to implement the growing number of Government policies in general
and the Code of Practice and Children Order in particular.
5. CODE OF
The full impact of the Code of Practice and
Children Order has yet to be determined (fully implemented in
September 1998). However, there is evidence of increased workloads
for both schools and the Board.
At school level, considerable additional training
is needed for all staff and governors. The role of the SENCO (Special
Needs Co-ordinator) is evolving with a growing workload in co-ordinating
the provision made for children with special needs. All teachers
are involved in the development of Individual Education Plans
At Board level there is growing demand for professional
staff to support schools, for a reappraisal of policy and resourcing
for special needs, and the need to monitor and evaluate and ensure
It is agreed that a multi-disciplinary approach
to the planning provision for young people with special educational
needs is required.
Many agree that the proxy socio-economic indicator
of free school meals is a robust means of predicting the number
of pupils with special educational needs and as a means of distributing
resources at school level. However, this indicator is becoming
less useful in the light of the Code of Practice, where the emphasis
is clearly on identifying the special educational needs of individual
pupils. A needs-led approach is required.
6. FUTURE REQUIREMENTS
Schools are seeking to have pupils referred
without having followed the stages in the Code of Practice, and
in addition some schools (both special schools and units in mainstream
schools) are being selective with regard to the pupils they are
prepared to admit. Frequently they do not see a difference between
a statemented pupil and a non-statemented pupil in terms of admission
The growing number of pupils with emotional
and behavioural problems has tended to make school managers very
aware of the difficulties in admitting such pupils.
Until the Code of Practice and the Children
Order have been operational for a number of years, it is difficult
to estimate the shortfall in places for children with special
educational needs. The Government has already asked the Education
and Library Boards to provide an additional 200 withdrawal places
by September 1998 and to prepare plans to develop alternative
educational provision on a multi-agency basis for pupils for whom
mainstream education is not suitable.
In the Southern Education and Library Board,
there are approximately 790 children either waiting for assessment
or in the process of being assessed (Annex 3). Assessment is in
many cases a complex process requiring a multi-agency approach,
including medical and educational advice. The resources required
are not always within the control of the Education and Library
Board. This, together with the wide range of disabilities, means
that the assessment process sometimes takes longer than expected.
In general, the requests for assessments come
from parents via the school. However, there is growing involvement
from voluntary groups and professionals encouraging parents to
seek assessment without following the formal process of the Code
10 March 1998