Question to the Department for Education:
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent estimate her Department has made of the level of demand for staff who are qualified to provide childcare for children over the age of five with special educational needs.
Local authorities have a legal duty to report annually on how they are meeting their duty to secure sufficient childcare for children aged up to 14, and up to 18 for disabled children. Local authority reports should include specific reference to how each local authority is meeting the needs of children with Special Educational Needs (SEN), including how any gaps in provision will be addressed. The report should be made available to parents.
Where adequate childcare provision is not available, parents have the right to request a wraparound or holiday childcare place for their child. Local authorities also have a statutory duty under the Children and Families Act 2014 to maintain a local offer which provides clear, comprehensive, accessible, and up-to-date information about support and services for children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND).
The department recognises the importance of good quality and inclusive school-aged childcare that supports working parents and carers. The government is investing £289 million in a new wraparound childcare programme to support local authorities and providers in England to introduce or expand childcare provision for primary school-aged children, as part of the largest ever investment in childcare. The programme aims to deliver provision that is child-centred, easily accessible and responds to the needs of the families, including those of children with SEND. Local authorities and childcare providers should recognise the different needs of children who will be accessing childcare and ensure that new and existing provision is accessible to all, including children with complex needs and those in specialist school settings.
The department does not hold data on the demand for staff who are qualified to provide childcare for children over the age of five with SEN. However, as part of the national wraparound programme, local authorities have the flexibility to use some of the funding provided to pay for training for wraparound staff, including specialist training for staff to ensure they feel equipped to support children with SEND.