SEN training grants on offer for support staff

Written by: HTU | Published:

Hundreds of school support staff are to get government-funded degree-level training to help support children with SEN and/or disabilities.

Hundreds of school support staff are to get government-funded degree-level training to help support children with SEN and/or disabilities.

A £500,000 scholarship programme will give up to £2,000 to each candidate to fund as much as 50 per cent of the cost of specialist courses and qualifications.

A competitive application process will open next week for support staff who hold A level or equivalent qualifications or those who have higher level teaching assistant status.

Children's minister Sarah Teather said the programme would fund staff to take “a wider range of degree-level equivalent qualifications and specialist diplomas in specific impairments such as in dyslexia or autism".

It comes after the SEN Green Paper, published a year ago, included plans to develop the expertise and expert knowledge of the wider school workforce.

Ms Teather said: “These scholarships identify and train talented professionals, with the potential to develop their specialist knowledge further and pursue a teaching career in the future if they want.

“We know that support staff can make a real difference to the achievement of pupils with SEN and disabilities. They are never a substitute for a qualified teacher – but we know that when used effectively, they are vital to giving the most vulnerable pupils the support they need to get the most out of school."

Sarah Lambert, head of policy at the National Autistic Society, said: “Many parents told us that because autism and other SEN are 'hidden' disabilities in that you don't see them, teachers and educational support staff may not recognise their needs or offer appropriate support. Our hope is that this training will change that.

“For this to work effectively, the government should target those schools that need it most and look at ways to encourage those who go on this programme to share their knowledge, skills and learning with colleagues."

Applications for the scholarship fund opened on Monday, April 30, and will close on May 17, with the first scholarships to be awarded later this year.

Applications will be scored by Teaching Agency and Department for Education officials with funding only being awarded to “the highest scoring applicants whose proposals meet stringent criteria".

The Department for Education has also confirmed funding for 2012/13 to train 1,000 new SENCOs through the Master's-level National Award for SEN Co-ordination. This year the scheme has been extended to include qualified teachers working in pupil referral units.

Details of the SEN scholarships are available from the Department for Education.

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