OFSTED changes will help schools which make extra effort for children with special educational needs, say Derek Thomas

New proposals about the way OFSTED inspectors are assessed will help those schools and colleges which make an extra effort to help children with Special Educational Needs (SEN), says West Cornwall MP Derek Thomas.

Speaking in a debate on Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Funding led by Sir Vince Cable, Mr Thomas praised schools in West Cornwall which “excel because of their support for SEN”  and welcomed the OFSTED plans which showed “positive signs of movement towards a proper, sensible approach to the education of children with SEN”.

“Ofsted recently launched a consultation and said that it is now prepared to look more at teaching rather than school results,” he said.

“The consultation finishes on 4 April. I encourage everyone to take part, so that Ofsted can genuinely recognise good schools, even though their attainment might not be quite as good as it could be, due to the children that those schools support.”

Mr Thomas also won an admission from the Apprenticeships and Skills Minister Ann Milton that schools which place a special emphasis on SEN education were being disadvantaged by the way that Government funding of £6,000 for each SEN child was allocated.

“If children arrive after 1 October, there will not be any funding for them until up to 18 months later,” he said. “And the school will still have to find the £6,000 as well as pay for the normal education costs that are incurred.

“We must simplify the way that school funding is distributed, particularly for children with special needs.”

The Minister said: “There is an expectation that mainstream schools pay for the cost of SEND support—up to £6,000 from their core budget—before accessing additional top-up funding from the local authority. We are very aware that that arrangement is deterring schools from meeting the needs of pupils with special needs.”