Speaking at the launch Mr Blunkett said:
'Schools identify almost one child in five as having some sort of special educational need. That is why provision for children with SEN has to be part and parcel of our whole approach to raising standards for all children. Our proposals, in the Green Paper, for improving special education build on the principles of our White Paper, Excellence in schools. Indeed our policies for effective early intervention where children are falling behind in basic skills should mean that in future fewer go on to develop a special educational need.
'This Green Paper proposes practical steps - including the use of information and communications technology - to bring about a transformation in the way we help children with special educational needs
schools not necessarily to be there throughout their school career; better partnership with parents, with schools and local authorities really involving parents in decision making; better training in SEN for teachers and others, ensuring that staff have the skills, knowledge and understanding to make a reality of our proposals for raising standards for all children with SEN; innovative developments in the role of special schools; emphasis on practical support, not bureaucracy; and better co-operation between local agencies to support children with SEN.
'The present law, including statements for some children, is there to protect the interests of the vulnerable. We shall not change that. But we want the emphasis to be on practical support, not procedures. Schools should take responsibility for all their pupils, with support
from the LEA where necessary, but with as little formal machinery as possible.
'We are setting out proposals to realise our vision. The first step is very wide national consultation on the ideas in this Green Paper. At the same time, we are announcing an early programme of practical projects, to get off the ground over the next few months. This will
working with a group of schools and LEAs on how to promote inclusion and find ways for special and mainstream schools to support one another; setting up pilots in two regional Government Offices, to consider regional planning arrangements for some aspects of SEN provision; and running a programme of practical workshops to help special schools for children with emotional and behavioural
difficulties improve the achievement of their pupils.
'Following the consultation period, our new National Advisory Group on SEN will put to me proposals for action over the next five years to put in place the measures necessary to raise standards for all
children with special needs.
'We recognise that, in the long run, we shall not get far without putting real resources behind these initiatives. This will be a priority area as more money becomes available. This Green Paper sets out clearly the targets against which we are prepared to be judged. I believe that in five years' time we will see real progress.'
1.Copies of the Green Paper are being sent to all schools in England, local education authorities, social services departments, health
authorities and voluntary organisations with an interest in special education. The consultation period on the Green Paper runs until 9 January 1998.
2.A separate Green Paper will shortly be published for Wales.
3.Comments on the Green Paper should be sent to Alison Britton, Department for Education and Employment, Special Educational Needs Division, Area 2T, Sanctuary Buildings, Great Smith Street, London SW1P 3BT. The Green Paper and its summary version will be available on LGCnet.