Government pledges £45 million to ‘fully embed’ SEND reforms

Government pledges £45 million to 'fully embed' SEND reforms

The government has announced a £45 million pot to support pupils with special educational needs and disabilities, with the lion’s share of the funding going to helping councils.

Following the introduction of Education Health and Care Plans (EHCP) in 2014, councils have struggled to convert old statements into the new plans, as well as deal with high volumes of applications for pupils to have EHCPs.

Without a plan or statement, schools are not legally required to make sure pupils can access specified tailored support such as one-to-one classroom mentoring or speech and language therapy.

Now, the government has announced an extra £29 million just for councils “to continue pressing ahead with implementation of the reforms to the SEND system.”

A further £9.7 million will go on setting up “internship forums”, which will aim to create work placements for young people with SEND so they can move into paid work. The funding could also be used to train job coaches, said the government’s release.

Finally, £4.6 million will go towards parent-carer forums, which sim to give parents voice in the processes involving children with SEND.

The announcement comes after Schools Week highlighted last week that Ofsted is concerned pupils categorised as needing “SEN support” are getting a worse deal than those with a full EHCP.

Children categorised as needing “SEN support” are more likely to have their needs overlooked, be excluded, and achieve less well than those with a legally binding EHCP, the report on local area inspections concluded.

But this new funding pot does not mention “SEN support” pupils, who make up 80 per cent of those with some kind of special need in schools.

Data shows that even where pupils get EHCPs, they are increasingly likely to leave mainstream schools and go to special school to have their needs met.

An analysis of government statistics by the National Association of Special Educational Needs showed that the proportion of pupils with statements or EHCPs in special schools rose from 36 per cent in 2007, to 44 per cent this year.

But the new announcement does not earmark any funding for SEND Co-ordinators or special needs provision in schools.

However Robert Goodwill, minister for children and families, said that while councils were making encouraging progress in implementing SEND reforms introduced three years ago, “here is still work to be done to fully embed this improved system.”

Goodwill also said that further funding will be announced to support the delivery of the SEND reforms over the next two years.

Invitations to bid for contracts, which will include “continuing support for the SEND workforce”, and expert support to local areas, will be published shortly.