Posted on Tuesday 9th February 2021
Thousands of children and their families are being promised more, better-timed support for their education.
About 13.5 per cent of Staffordshire pupils have special educational needs, lower than the national average.
Staffordshire County Council is planning to invest more in services and support for children and young people aged 0-25 with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND).
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:
The intention is simple, we want all children with special educational needs and disabilities to be 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.”
The five-year strategy follows lengthy consultation with parents, professionals, the NHS and school representatives in the county.
It includes improving communication with families and joint working between the county council, NHS and schools; providing support to children and young people more quickly; and improving awareness of SEND in the community and increasing access to out-of-school activities.
A report to be considered by Staffordshire County Council’s Cabinet next week says:
- The number of children and young people with an EHCP has risen from 3,500 in 2014 to 6,100 this year;
- About 13.5 per cent of Staffordshire pupils have special educational needs compared to 15.3 per cent nationally;
- Almost a quarter of children with SEND in Staffordshire (24 per cent) are educated in a special school, compared to nine per cent nationally;
- Long-term national underfunding has led the county council to use reserves each year to support its work.
Now, joint groups have been set up in each of Staffordshire’s eight boroughs and districts to focus on providing early support locally to those who need it.
Jonathan Price added:
We understand parents want us, the different parts of the NHS and schools to work closely with families to allow their children to live as safely and independently as possible and for them to learn and achieve as much as possible in their own communities.”
The good news is that we have strengths to build on. All Staffordshire’s special schools are rated ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted, the number of people with SEND in education, employment and training is good, and we have improved the online help and advice available.”
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).