COMMONS

Statement from PAC Chair on oversight of special education for young people

04 November 2011

National Audit Office: Oversight of special education for young people aged 16-25

A statement from The Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, Chair of the Committee of Public Accounts

A third of young people with Statements of Special Educational Needs are not in education, work or training at the age of 18 – more than double the level for young people with no special educational need.

That is extremely worrying, and we will want to know what steps the Department for Education is taking to improve participation.

The NAO report highlights concerns that young people with special educational needs face a postcode lottery.

There are wide variations between local authorities in the types of providers they use for students with special educational needs, the amount of money spent on students and the information available to support student choice.

For example, spending per student on Additional Learning Support varies from £6,600 to £17,900.

Only 25% of local authorities provide parents with information on the outcomes achieved by education providers and only 20% provide any information on quality.

We will want to explore with the Department why these differences exist and what steps they are taking to ensure students are not disadvantaged by where they live.

The Government spends £640 million every year supporting around 147,000 students aged 16-25, but it doesn’t know whether this money is being well spent because of a lack of data on costs and outcomes. We will want to know how the Department is addressing this weakness to get to grips with what works and secure best value for money.

We support the Department’s objectives of achieving greater independence and employability for young people with special educational needs, which would improve their quality of life and reduce costs to the taxpayer. We will want to know how the Department is going to measure the success of its interventions.

The report is available to read on the National Audit Office website

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