The funding made available through the new Department for Education contracts covers a wide range of activity designed to support the education workforce, support families, and support local authorities and their partners. Within this, £3.4 million has been provided for the special educational needs and disability (SEND) Schools’ Workforce contract, a strand of which is a study to understand the supply, demand and drivers for SEND continuing professional development (CPD). Also included is an exercise to map access to CPD and an analysis of the gaps in training and resources available to schools. The aim of the contract is to ensure that all teachers are equipped to respond to the needs of their pupils, including those with hearing impairment.
Supporting teachers of pupils with sensory impairment is part of the contract, but direct funding for Teachers of the Deaf is not included in this activity and the department does not fund the training of Teachers of the Deaf. It is up to local authorities to work with the schools in their area to identify the nature of specialist support services they commission according to the needs of schools in their authority. The SEND Code of Practice makes clear that all local authorities are required to publish a local offer, which sets out information about provision they expect to be available for children and young people with SEND in their area. The local offer must include relevant regional and national specialist provision, such as provision for children and young people with low-incidence and more complex special educational needs (SEN).
Under the SEND Schools’ Workforce contract, eight regional hubs will be created, consisting of a Regional and Deputy Regional SEND Leader in each region. Their role is to identify and bring together local SEND networks and to support school improvement, including condition specific networks. As part of that work, they will make links with the SEND leads in local authorities and will use those discussions to identify weaknesses and priorities for school improvement in the area.
Our work with the whole school SEND programme will help us understand the gaps in training and resources available to schools to support pupils with SEND, including the needs of mainstream schools to support pupils with hearing impairments. As we review the conclusions of that analysis, we will also consider the information received from the National Deaf Children’s Society on trends in the recruitment of Teachers of the Deaf.
The department is reviewing recruitment and retention data to understand whether special schools and alternative providers are facing teacher shortages and how this compares to mainstream teaching as part of a wider focus on teacher recruitment and retention.