George Freeman calls for more special educational needs skilled staff in mainstream schools

4th February 2019

George Freeman highlights the excellent work of Chapel Green School for its teaching of those with the most severe educational needs and calls on the Government to tackle the lack of skilled staff in the mainstream sector which has resulted in the school being massively oversubscribed.

Disadvantaged Children: Attainment Gap

17. What progress he has made in closing the attainment gap for disadvantaged children. [908968]

I am pleased to say that the attainment gap is down by 13% and 9% respectively at ages 11 and 16. This year, almost £30 million in pupil premium is allocated to schools in Norfolk, and schools, of course, have the work of the Education Endowment Foundation on which to draw.

I am grateful to the Secretary of State for that answer. Chapel Green School in Norfolk is one of the country’s finest institutions for the teaching of those with the most severe educational needs. I am grateful that I can put on record the thanks of the school and all its governors for the major funding from the Government to move from its cramped facilities to its state-of-the-art facilities. The school has reported that one problem is that, because of a lack of skilled staff in the mainstream sector, it is massively oversubscribed. I invite the Secretary of State and our former Minister, Mr Timpson, who I know are working on this, to come to Norfolk, meet the team and discuss that wider problem.

My hon. Friend has touched on a really important and wide-ranging issue. First, I am grateful to him for mentioning Chapel Green School and the excellent work that it does, and also our investment in its new facilities, but he is also right that, in thinking about high needs and special needs, we also need to think about how teachers and others in mainstream schools are equipped. That is one reason we are looking at what happens in initial teacher training and with the specialist qualification, and also the key role of educational psychologists in that regard.