Special needs pupils get pounds 11m boost for access to schools

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The Government yesterday announced a boost of pounds 11m to help mainstream schools become more accessible to special needs children. Estelle Morris, the schools minister, told MPs that the almost three-fold increase on the pounds 4m set aside by the previous administration for the Schools Access Initiative was the most that had ever been spent on the initiative in any year.

The initiative is part of the Government's overall commitment to improving special needs education, which is the subject of a consultative Green Paper, entitled Excellence for All Children. Ms Morris said: "In our Green Paper ... the Government committed itself to announcing a significant expansion in the School Access Initiative, to help mainstream schools become more accessible to children with disabilities. We are honouring that commitment. We inherited funding for this initiative running at pounds 4m a year."

That sum would be increased to pounds 11m next year - "the most that has ever been spent on the initiative in any year."

She said all mainstream schools would be eligible for support under the initiative, which is designed to increase physical access to mainstream schools and which she described as "an important part of our programme to help disabled children attend mainstream schools".

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