North Yorkshire has pushed ahead to achieve real change in the first year of its plan to transform provision for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities.
In carrying out its ambition to create more and better local provision and a more inclusive culture for children and young people with SEND, the County Council has created capacity for nearly 100 additional special school places this year alone and in the coming year will provide 72 targeted permanent full time places for children with SEND within mainstream schools.
This mainstream SEND provision will be complemented by the creation across the county of county council multi-disciplinary teams who will provide targeted enhanced therapeutic intervention for pupils in mainstream schools and also guidance for professionals working with children and young people with SEND aged 0-25.
A review of the first year of the County Council’s SEND strategic plan, which has just been published, highlights the significance of the changes. As well as creating additional special school places, including a Ripon site for Mowbray School with the capacity to provide up to 60 places, North Yorkshire has successfully bid for a special school in Selby.
The county council has also transformed the pupil referral service working with headteachers across the county, creating a new funding structure and more local control. This will enable the PRS to focus on supporting children at risk of exclusion so they remain in mainstream school and close to their own communities. There is evidence this year that the number of permanent exclusions is falling. The council has also increased the educational opportunities for children with medical needs.
“Our long-term plan was developed in collaboration with children and young people, their parents and carers, and professional partners,” said County Councillor Patrick Mulligan, North Yorkshire’s Executive Member for Education and Skills. “The strategic plan outlined 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.
“It was 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.
“We have lost no time in working with all our partners to bring these much-needed changes about. Supporting children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities is one of the most important jobs that we do and when we look back over this first year, we can see that we are already well on our way to making this plan to improve the life chances of young people with SEND a reality.”
North Yorkshire is facing unprecedented and increasing demand on its special educational needs and disability budget.
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 3,200 with plans but this is predicted to rise by nearly another 1,000 by 2022, in line with national trends.
This is in 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”, added Cllr Mulligan. “We will also continue to put the case to Government about the serious challenges we face”.