UK government boosts support for pupils with additional needs

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The UK government has announced several new measures to boost support for children and young people with additional needs.

The measures, which include new contracts worth more than £25 million, follow the publication of data showing more than 98 per cent of statements of special educational needs (SEN) were reviewed by the 31 March 2018 deadline, as part of the introduction of new Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans.

There were 236,225 statements on 31 August 2014, at the start of the transition period.

Minister for Children and Families, Nadhim Zahawi said:

We want every child to have the support they need to unlock their potential, no matter what challenges they face. Today’s data shows that almost all of SEN statements were reviewed on time, which is testament to the hard work of councils, their partners and families all over the country, to give children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) the support they deserve.

The new contracts we are announcing today, worth more than £25 million, will build on the progress we have seen over the last four years to make sure children, young people and their families have access to excellent support to help guide them through the new system.

We are also putting in place new measures to improve the SEND training available to school staff, including tools to develop the role of early years SEND coordinators — building on a commitment set out in our Early Years Workforce Strategy.

The new measures include:

  • A contract worth £20million with the Council for Disabled Children (CDC), in partnership with Contact, to provide families and young people with SEND with impartial advice, support and information about the services and support on offer.
  • A two-year contract worth £3.8million with Contact, in partnership with KIDS, the Council for Disabled Children and The National Network of Parent Carer Forums to promote and develop strategic participation by young people and parent carers.
  • A two-year SEND school workforce contract with nasen and University College London’s (UCL) Centre for Inclusive Education, on behalf of the Whole School SEND consortium, worth £3.4 million to bring together schools, voluntary organisations and experts so that schools can deliver high-quality SEND.

The winning consortia were named as preferred bidders in April.

Responding to the news of the £20 million contract at the time, Dame Christine Lenehan, CDC’s Director, said:

The Council for Disabled Children is pleased once again to be working in partnership with Contact to ensure that, in every local authority area, children and young people with SEND and their families have access to impartial information, advice and support covering SEND issues —including access to a dedicated Freephone service.

Both organisations have worked closely with the Government on the development and implementation of the SEND reforms and together are best placed to ensure children, young people and their parents have access to quality local advice services and information, so that children and young people are supported to achieve the best possible educational and other outcomes.

In respect of the £38 million contract KIDS said:

All four organisations are delighted that our consortium bid has been successful, and we are looking forward to working together over the next two years to build on our current individual support offers learning from each other’s experiences and developing new synergised approaches that further enhance both children and young people’s, and parent carer participation.

nasen said its new project with UCL’s Centre for Inclusive Education will seek to:

  • drive education institutions to prioritise SEND within their continuing professional development and school improvement plans including facilitating greater links between mainstream and special schools.
  • equip schools to identify and meet their training needs, so that they can go on to deliver high quality teaching in SEND.
  • build the skills of teachers working in mainstream and special schools and of SENCOs and teachers of classes of children and young people with sensory impairments by promoting best practice.
  • identify and respond to any gaps in the training and resources available to schools.

This project will build on existing work undertaken by the Whole School SEND Consortium to train over 500 practitioners in the use of the SEND Review and will see a number of school improvements and specialist organisations come together to build on an existing community of practice of more than 4000 schools, which aims to reach at least 10,000 schools over the next two years through the creation of eight school-led regional hubs across England. The hubs will work to bring together local SEND networks to support school improvement within their region.

The work will be delivered through the Whole School SEND consortium which is hosted by nasen and chaired by Dr Adam Boddison, nasen’s Chief Executive.

Alongside these new contracts, the Department for Education has developed new tools in partnership with nasen and Action for Children to create a job description and specification for Level 3 Early Years Special Educational Needs Coordinators (SENCOs).

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Special World, from Inclusive Technology, is a free website linking 125,000 special education teachers, speech therapists and occupational therapists in 150 countries. Special World readers and contributors work with children who have additional needs or special educational needs including those with severe, profound and multiple learning difficulties and disabilities.

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