Hundreds of support staff and people working in teaching assistant jobs will get funding for degree-level training in special educational needs or disabilities (SEND) as part of a programme announced by the government.
Under the annual SEN support scholarship, candidates will be offered as much as £2,000 towards the cost of courses designed to provide specialist, rigorous and high-quality SEND training.
A total of £500,000 has been allocated for the scholarships.
The programme follows a green paper published a year ago that outlined an overhaul of SEN teaching jobs by developing expertise and knowledge in the challenging profession.
It is hoped that by improving the standards of SEN teachers and support staff, more vulnerable young people will be identified at an early age and have their educational needs properly met by a specialist.
Evidence highlighted by the paper suggested that in many cases SEND pupils are left to rely on under-qualified teaching assistants which could potentially isolate them from their peers.
Providing highly-trained support staff and teachers is crucial for these children and the green paper recommended the creation of the national scholarship scheme in a bid to raise the profile and career development of SEN professionals.
Sarah Teather, the Liberal Democrat children's minister, said the funding would help get the best from school staff by recognising and training talented education professionals.
"We know that support staff can make a real difference to the achievement of pupils with SEN and disabilities," she said.
"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."
Successful applicants will receive funding for half of their course fees, to a maximum of £2,000, and will be able to study a diverse range of degree-level qualifications.
Applications are being accepted between April 30th and May 17th.
Posted by Harriet McGowan