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January 2011



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The Children, Schools and Families Bill had its second reading in Parliament on January 11 2010. 

Two parts of the Bill create new duties specifically to support children with special educational needs (SEN) and disabilities. The Bill will create a new requirement for Ofsted to report on SEN and disability issues when they do school inspections. This was one of the key aspects of our private members bill on SEN and Disability Support taken forward by John Bercow MP last year.

The Children, Schools and Families Bill will also introduce a new right to go to tribunal if the local authority refuses to amend a statement at annual review, which we have also called for. 

We strongly welcome these new measures and believe that they could make a significant difference in helping children with autism to get the right support at school.  

However, the Bill also contains some measures which we have concerns about. The NAS will be focusing on these parts of the Bill to make sure that the needs of children with autism are recognised.   

New individualised home-school agreements between the school, parent and pupil will set agreed standards around the pupils’ education, behaviour and well-being. We believe these should acknowledge schools’ responsibilities in supporting the behaviour of children with autism and other SEN.

For children who are not in school because they are ill or excluded, local authorities will be able to provide part-time education, rather than full-time. While we think this may be appropriate in some circumstances, we want to make sure that it does not allow local authorities to avoid providing full-time education simply because it is not convenient.

The Bill also contains measures to monitor and register home educators. We are seeking commitments that detailed proposals recognise the needs of children with special educational needs, including providing appropriate support from people who understand autism. 

We will be raising more detailed concerns at committee stage, in particular that families should not be penalised if they feel that it is not appropriate for their child to have a one-to-one meeting with local authority officers.

You can read our briefing for second reading below.

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