Supplementary memorandum from Baroness
Ashton of Upholland (DFES 09) (continued)
(QCA) ABOUT MINIMISING
QCA has submitted its report of incidents of
malpractice in this year's National Curriculum Assessment Tests
to the Department. QCA's evaluation of the National Curriculum
tests each year looks at how the testing regime can be strengthened
and improved. Although there is no way of making the tests or
their administration completely immune to cheating, QCA continues
to look for better ways to monitor possible malpractice. They
are running a series of seminars in the autumn for Local Education
Authority (LEA) assessment advisers. These will help raise assessment
advisers' awareness of what constitutes maladministration or malpractice
and will be used to develop common procedures and closer inter-working
between LEAs and the QCA.
A NOTE ON
PM'S 2005 TARGET
In 1999 the DfEE commissioned Regional Broadband
Consortia (RBCs), groups of local education authorities, to provide
cost-effective and co-ordinated Internet connectivity at 2 Mbs
or faster for 20 per cent of all schools in their region, including
all secondary schools, by August 2002. Local education authorities
that are not part of an RBC are similarly required to meet this
A DfES review of RBCs carried out in June 2001
identified that strong local partnerships had been developed to
ensure high quality, high value broadband connectivity, content
and service for 20 per cent of schools by August 2002.
Additional funding has been made available to
RBCs and LEAs for 2002-03 to maintain existing levels of broadband
connectivity and increase the proportion of schools with a two
Mbs or faster Internet connection beyond the current target. The
DfES will be negotiating local targets with RBCs and LEAs for
2003. I am confident that in 2003, LEAs in partnership with RBCs
can achieve a significant increase in the proportion of schools
with a broadband connection of 2 Mbs or faster.
Beyond 2003, the Department expects to take
part in a wider exercise to aggregate procurement of broadband
services across a number of sectors eg schools, colleges, libraries,
post offices, etc. This will have significant benefits in terms
of economies of scale, and improved availability of broadband
in rural and hard-to-reach areas.
Ensuring schools can use the infrastructure
properly, have got the right kind of support, and can use it right
across the curriculum.
Between 1998 and 2004, the Government's direct
investment in schools ICT will have been some £1.8 billion.
Schools themselves are adding many more millions to this investment.
In order to ensure that teachers and learners obtain real value
for money from this investment, we want to help them procure their
ICT efficiently and go on managing it effectively.
This is why the DfES launched a package of four
new services on 13 November 2001:
A technical support website: http://technicalsupport.ngfl.gov.uk
This contains advice for schools on all aspects
of technical support, including:
case studies on a range of different
approaches showing good practicewhether there is a large
reliance on suppliers or whether there is a high degree of reliance
on schools' own technical staff;
illustrative job roles (called "skill
sets") for those working directly in schools, to help schools
identify which jobs can be done by support staff at various levels;
suggestions about sources of help,
including whether NGfL Standards Fund can be used to pay for technical
The website went live on 13 November.
An Independent Procurement Advisory Service
This is a pilot service that will work with
schools in five LEA areas over the next two years. It will offer
consultancy services, on-line courses, workshops, a call centre
operation and other assistance to help schools in buying their
computing systems, networks and support.
A website will be established to disseminate
the lessons learned and good practice, for the benefit of schools
not in the pilot areas.
A Customer Satisfaction Survey
This is a survey to find out the extent to which
schools are, or are not, satisfied with their ICT suppliers. It
is starting now, and the results will be available in January.
The survey covers: desktop and portable computers,
Internet services and technical support. The exercise will be
evaluated to assess whether it should be run on a regular basis.
A Telecommunications Intelligence website (Known
as "get connected"). http://getconnected.ngfl.gov.uk
This will give educational institutions practical
help on obtaining their connectivityon getting started,
on licensing, regulatory issues and information on telecommunications
issues and on the services offered by the various Internet service
The website went live on 13 November.
These initiatives are being managed on behalf
of the Department by BECTa (the British Educational Communications
and Technology Agency). BECTa is NDPB funded by the Department,
which provides the Department with independent advice and support
on ICT related matters.
Teachers are now expected to use ICT to deliver
the National Curriculum where appropriate. ICT is also a National
Curriculum subject in its own right. It therefore follows that
teachers are expected to be familiar with ICT as a teaching tool,
and to be both confident and competent in its uses.
Under the Initial Teacher Training National
Curriculum in the use of ICT in subject teaching, which was introduced
in September 1998, newly qualified teachers are required to meet
a minimum standard of ICT capability. The purpose of the ICT training
programme being implemented by the New Opportunities Fund (NOF)
is to give serving teachers in the maintained sector the opportunity
to receive comparable training.
The New Opportunities Fund, in conjunction with
the Teacher Training Agency and the Department of Education and
Skills, has had the remit in delivering the training, which has
been funded at £230 million. Schools are able to choose from
a number of approved training providers and much of the training
is delivered on school premises. By 31 July 2001, 355,000 serving
teachers in the UK had signed up for NOF ICT teacher training
and over 190,000 have completed it.
Twenty-three per cent of maintained schools
in England are faith based. This breaks down as 28 per cent of
all primary schools and 15 per cent of all secondary schools.
The majority of these schools are mainstream Christian. Less than
0.5 per cent of pupils attend minority faith schools.
Whilst these schools are faith-based, many admit
children from outside their faith, notably the Church of England,
particularly in rural areas where their schools tend to serve
the whole community. Twelve per cent of all pupils are educated
in Church of England schools, which equates to 18 per cent of
all primary-age pupils and 5 per cent of all secondary-age pupils.
The needs of the great majority of children
who have special educational needs should be met effectively through
the three school based stages of identification and support suggested
in the SEN Code of Practice ("Stages 1-3" of the Code,
soon to be replaced by School Action and School Action Plus under
the revised Code of Practice coming into force from January 2002),
without the statutory involvement of the local education authority.
In a small number of cases, perhaps 2 to 3 per cent of children,
the LEA will need to make a statutory assessment of special educational
needs. LEAs are under a statutory duty to identify those children
in their area with special educational needs for whom they are
responsible and for whom they must make provision through a statement
of special educational needs.
A statutory assessment means that the LEA will
need to obtain advice from the child's school, parents and other
professionals where they have been involved with the child, as
to the nature, extent and cause of the child's learning. This
process is intended to take a minimum of six weeks and no longer
Statutory assessment itself will not always
lead to a statement. The information gathered during an assessment
may indicate ways in which the child's needs can be met by his
or her school without the need for any special educational provision
to be determined by the LEA through a statement. It may be, for
example, that the provision of a particular piece of equipment
would allow the school, guided as appropriate by expert help,
to meet the child's needs.
Having received all the advice obtained from
a statutory assessment of a child's special educational needs
carried out under the provisions of section 323 of the Education
Act 1996, the LEA must decide whether they need to make a statutory
statement under section 324 of the Act. Where they decide to do
so, they must give notice in writing to the parent of the decision
and their reasons for making it.
Time limits are currently set out in the Education
(Special Educational Needs) Regulations 1994 (to be superseded
in January 2002 by new Special Educational Needs Regulations 2001)
in relation to making statutory assessments and statements of
children's special educational needs. There will of course be
circumstances in which it is not reasonable to expect the bodies
concerned (LEAs, health and social services) to meet the time
scales set for the assessment and statementing processes. The
regulations therefore prescribe exceptions to the time limits.
It is good practice for parents to be told if the exceptions apply,
so that they understand the reasons for the delay.
The whole process should take no longer than
26 weeks and each stage should be completed within the following
time scales (subject to allowable exceptions):
six weeksfor the LEA to consider whether
a statutory assessment is necessary. This period is from the issue
of a notice to assess by the LEA, or the LEA's receipt of a parent's
or school's request to conduct an assessment;
10 weeksto make the assessment. This is
the period from the LEA's decision to make a statutory assessment
of the LEA's decision on whether or not to make a statement; and
two weeksto draft the proposed statement
or note in lieu. This is the period starting from the LEA's decision
on whether or not to make a statement to the issuing of a proposed
statement or of a notice of the LEA's decision not to make a statement,
giving full reasons, preferably in the form of a note in lieu.
eight weeksto finalise the statement.
This is the period from the issue of the proposed statement to
the issue of the final copy of the statement.
A flow chart summarising the process in diagrammatical
form is attached to the end of this note.
As the Code and the SEN legislation is about
systems and procedures that protect the rights of the individual
child and their parents we could not remove all systems but we
have tried to ensure a reductionin administrative workload
and red tapein the following ways:
the current five stages of identification
and assessment will be reduced to three, which will lead to a
consequent reduction in paperwork;
we will require schools in future
to keep records of children with SEN receiving school-based provision,
and those with statements, which are not burdensome for schools.
This is in place of the requirement to maintain an SEN Register;
there will be a reduction in the
amount of information required in Individual Education Plans (IEPs).
We are therefore cutting demands on all teachers'
time without diminishing the quality of the teaching response
to the individual child. We have deliberately reduced the guidance
on IEPs in the Code as we are aware from the responses to the
original consultation on the revision of the Code in 1999 and
2000, and the HMI report on the Code and IEPs, that there is a
great deal of excellent work done around IEPs but a great deal
of variation as schools have developed their own systems, procedures
and formats. However, we will be producing guidance on managing
In addition, in relation to statutory assessment:
while early education setting and
schools will now have the right to request a statement, this should
not mean that schools have to provide more paperwork than LEAs
currently require for a referral for assessment;
in fact, the Code recommends that
LEAs should not make demands for any other reports or paperwork
than that which the school should have anyway. But this does mean
that the LEA system will need to process school and (early education)
settings requests to the same time scales as parental requestssix
weeks for a decision as to whether to asses amendments to the
annual review process.
Instead of the LEA, as now, being required to
send a notice to the school and the parents two months before
each child's annual review, the LEA will be required to send one
list on a termly basis to each school (and to the Health Authority
or Trust and the Social Services Department) with the names of
all the children needing reviews in that term. The head teacher
(who has to anyway) will contact the parents when they organise
the review meeting. The head teacher will only be required to
send the review papers to those people who have said they will
be attending the review meeting rather than everyone who was invited
and will only send the review report to the LEA, the parent and
those who attended. This will provide reductions in paperwork
whilst protecting the rights of parents and enhancing the rights
of children. The workload is cut for both schools and LEAs.