§ Lord Rix
asked Her Majesty's Government:
Whether they will initiate a joint inspection by Ofsted and the new Commission for Healthcare Audit and Inspection to establish whether health and education authorities are adequately addressing children's health needs in a way which meets their educational needs. [HL1956]
§ Baroness Ashton of Upholland
There are no plans at present to require joint inspections by Ofsted and the proposed new Commission for Healthcare Audit and Inspection. Plans for the new commission will be contained in a Bill to be placed before Parliament in due course. More broadly, the Government are encouraging all those in education, health and social services to work together to support improvements in the way children's special educational needs are identified and met.
A national service framework for children is being developed to promote an integrated approach to supporting children with disabilities and SEN, ensuring that services are designed around the needs of individual children and their families. Children's trusts will pilot new models of local joined-up working in planning, commissioning and delivering services for children with SEN and disabilities, and the forthcoming Green Paper on Children and Young People at Risk will look across government to address a number of key issues concerning preventive strategies and early intervention.
In relation to early intervention, we are promoting more coherent practice in co-ordinating services for disabled children aged 0–3 and their families through the Together from the Start guidance for education, health and social services professionals and our Early Support pilot programme, which will test the principles of the guidance and related guidance on early intervention/support services for deaf children and their families in practice. The programme is currently supporting 27 individual projects involving a 156WA variety of agencies at both local and national level. We recently announced additional funding of £12 million to extend the programme to March 2006.
We intend to publish later this year an SEN action programme setting out the Government's objectives and priorities for special educational needs. It will build on current activity and focus on improving outcomes for children and young people with special educational needs and their families. Improving multi-agency working will be the key theme.