North Yorkshire County Council’s Executive has agreed to move forward with a strategic plan for the transformation of special educational needs and disabilities provision.
The long-term plan has been developed in collaboration with children and young people, their parents and carers, and professional partners. Its aim is to create a more inclusive culture and provide more local provision.
It is based on detailed forecasts of future demand in each locality to ensure the Council is commissioning the right type of provision in the right place to create a more sustainable and effective service.
The strategy outlines initiatives to promote effective early intervention; more specialist targeted and long-term provision in mainstream schools; more places in special schools; a flexible system of teaching and learning and continuation of support through to adulthood.
“A great deal of thought and care has gone into this ambitious plan” said County Councillor Patrick Mulligan, Executive Member for Education and Skills. “Supporting children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities is one of the most important jobs that we do so we must ensure in these very challenging times that our funding is spent in the best way possible for the most effective support.
“Many parents have told us that if decisions could be made locally by people who work with their children every day, it would help young people to get the right support more quickly. They acknowledge that implementation would be challenging but the right thing to do. We also want to provide more local provision so that whenever possible children can learn close to their communities in an environment that’s right for them.”
Key points to the plan include:
- more specialist targeted and long-term provision in mainstream schools;
- closer working between special and mainstream schools;
- reduce the number of exclusions by closer working between mainstream schools and the pupil referral service;
- setting up local inclusion steering groups which will include parents and carers, local government officers, professionals and headteachers to monitor performance and level of need and to shape future developments.
- the creation of locally-based multi-disciplinary teams with enhanced therapeutic intervention;
- increase the number of places in the county’s special schools and address gaps in specialist provision in some areas of the county – this includes submitting an application for a new special free school in Selby and working towards establishing satellite specialist provision in the Ripon area;
- revise the model for the education of children with medical needs and their preparation for transition into adulthood.
North Yorkshire is facing unprecedented and increasing demand on its special educational needs and disability budget. High needs funding in 2018/19 has remained broadly similar to 2017/18 despite demand rising by 15 per cent . The Council has a High Needs budget of £44.8 million and is currently projecting financial pressures in the order of £3.9m.
“The strategic plan we have agreed this week will help to shape our future service and guide us through the difficult funding decisions we will have to make in the shorter term,” said Cllr Mulligan.
There are almost 163,000 children and young people aged 0-25 in North Yorkshire and the numbers with Education and Health Care Plans are rising. There are currently more than 2,650 with plans but this is predicted to rise by nearly another 1,000 by 2022, in line with national trends.
This is addition to over 10,000 children with SEND receiving support in school without the need for an Education and Health Care plan. Over 10 per cent of the school population is provided with special educational needs support and this is also expected to increase.
The figure for those with Social, Emotional and Health needs has increased by almost 38 per cent in the last two years and growing numbers of those with communication and interaction needs (particularly autism) is also contributing to the overall rise. Together, these groups account for almost 73 per cent of the total increase.
“We go to great lengths to do the right thing by our children and young people and our children and families service has been praised as outstanding in every category by Ofsted”, added Cllr Mulligan. “We will continue to lobby Government about the serious challenges we face and have written to our MPs asking for their support”.