§ Mr. Alfred Morris
asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science, pursuant to his reply to the right hon. Member for Manchester, Wythenshawe, on 9 November, what reply he has sent to the Royal Association for Disability and Rehabilitation in relation to the findings of its report on British disabled schoolchildren entitled "Beyond the School Gate"; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Dunn
I have written to the director of the Royal Association for Disability and Rehabilitation and the text of the letter is as followsThank you for your letter of 7 November addressed to the Secretary of State enclosing a copy of "Beyond the School Gate". I am replying as I have responsibility for school matters within the Department.I share your view that every effort should be made to improve the academic achievements of disabled children and I hope you would agree that some special schools and units have very sound educational records and take great care to prepare their pupils for adult life.In his speech on 8 April 1983 to the National Council for Special Education the Secretary of State said, of special schools and units: "what we need to look at closely is whether the arrangements in the schools are drawing out the children as much as they might; whether the schools are being ambitious enough in the aims which they are setting before themselves and the children; and whether the schools are responding to the changes in our society so that the young people are sent out into the world as well fitted for adult life as society can make them, and indeed as they deserve, notwithstanding their handicaps and disabilities.Some initiatives have been taken. The Department has allocated over £1 million during the present academic year for in-service training for teachers who have responsibility for special education in ordinary schools. The Advisory Committee on the Supply and Education of Teachers (ACSET) has accepted the Secretary of State's invitation to review the training of teachers for special education and hopes to report by Easter 1984. From its inception, the microelectronics education programme has allocated funds specifically for development in special education and has established four regional centres specialising in this work. As you may know, the programme, which was originally funded to March 1984, has been extended until 1986.There is much of interest to the Department in "Beyond the School Gate" and I welcome your suggestion of a meeting with officials. Mr. Peatey, the Head of Special Education Division, will be getting in touch with you very soon to make the necessary arrangements.