Posted on Wednesday 17th February 2021
Improvements planned with parents of children with special educational needs have been backed.
Staffordshire County Council’s Cabinet has approved its five-year Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) strategy following lengthy consultation with parents, as well as professionals, the NHS and school representatives.
Practical commitments include educating more children closer to home, providing more support for teaching in mainstream classrooms and funding the appointment of extra staff to process Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP) assessments more quickly.
Jonathan Price is Staffordshire County Council’s Cabinet member for Education and SEND, and the father of a child with SEND. He said:
Parents of children who will benefit from this have been at the heart of this process and I thank them for their passion and commitment.
We are all determined to do the best we can so that all children with special educational needs and disabilities are able to reach their potential by receiving the right support at the right time in their own communities, at their local school or place of education.”
A report to Cabinet said:
- more than 5,000 parents and carers had been contacted directly;
- about 13.5 per cent of Staffordshire pupils have special educational needs;
- a quarter of those children with SEND are currently being educated in a special school, compared to the national average of nine per cent;
- the number of children and young people with an EHCP has risen from 3,500 in 2014 to 6,100 this year.
The expectation in future is that more children with SEND will be taught in mainstream schools, with additional support.
Key to delivering the strategy for children and young people aged 0-25 are the joint groups set up in each of the county’s eight boroughs and districts to focus on providing early support locally to prevent initial problems being exacerbated by delays and for children to then need Education Health and Care Plans (EHCPs).
As well as making the right support available for children, other priorities to emerge from the consultation process include services improving the timeliness of their communication with families and improved access to out-of-school activities for children with SEND.
SEND support in the county is commissioned and delivered in partnership between the county council, schools and other education settings together with the Staffordshire NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs).
Jonathan Price said:
All Staffordshire’s special schools are rated as ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ and the number of people with SEND in education, employment and training is good, so we have a strong base from which to start, but clearly we are determined to do better.”