HC Deb 08 September 2003 vol 410 cc141-2W
Mr. Damian Green

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what types of specific handicap or special need are defined as constituting special needs; and how many children there were with each specific type of handicap, at 11 July. [127923]

Margaret Hodge

Section 312 of the Education Act 1996 sets out that children have special educational needs if they have a learning difficulty which calls for special educational provision to be made for them. Children are defined as having a learning difficulty if they:

a. have a significantly greater difficulty in learning than the majority of children of the same age; b. have a disability which prevents or hinders them from making use of educational facilities of a kind generally provided for children of the same age in schools within the area of the local education authority; OR c. are under compulsory school age and fall within the definition above or would so if special educational provision was not made for them.

Four main areas of difficulty or need are identified in the statutory SEN Code of Practice, published in November 2001. Some of these can be sub-divided to give 11 categories:

a. Cognition and learning needs Specific learning difficulty Moderate learning difficulty Severe learning difficulty Profound and multiple learning difficulty b. Behaviour, emotional and social development needs Behaviour, emotional and social difficulty c. Communication and interaction needs Speech, language and communication needs Autistic spectrum disorder d. Sensory and/or physical needs Visual impairment Hearing impairment Multi-sensory impairment Physical disability

The Department does not currently collect data about the numbers of children with specific types of special educational need. However, we will be collecting this data from January 2004 and have recently published guidance to support this process. I will ensure that the hon. Member receives a copy.