Speaking at the National Children's Bureau annual conference in London, Mr Forth said:
'Better co-operation between the education service and the health and social services is clearly needed. It is not enough, however, to adopt co-ordination and co-operation as pious watchwords. We have to root out the real obstacles to co-operation.
'Individual professionals - health workers, teachers, social workers - have to recognise that they are not doing their jobs properly if they are not making sure that their work meshes with that of others.'
'The Code of Practice on Special Educational Needs, issued by my department last year, set a framework for services to work together, with the focus very much on the needs of the child and the active involvement of parents.
Putting the code into practice will test co-operation between LEAs, the health service and social services.
'There is already close working, both nationally and locally, in the difficult field of speech therapy. For example in Northampton, where there are close links between the education and health authority, every school has a designated speech therapist; and in Plymouth the NHS trust's speech and language therapy services are training teachers and assistants to work with children with speech and language difficulties.