Deal to support special needs provision

Published: 17 March 2023

The news comes in the same month the government accepted a major bid by the council to build a new special needs school on the Island. 
Today's (Friday) announcement will see an additional £12.7 million invested in local SEND services over the next five years — the result of a 'safety valve' deal between the council and the Department for Education.

As part of the agreement, the council must deliver a balanced schools budget by 2027 — ensuring in-year spend matches in-year grant funding. 

The council, like almost all others across the country, is experiencing additional pressure on its services to SEND children.

Recent overspending has been attributed to numerous factors including increases in the number of children and young people in need of additional support, as well as rising costs associated with these services.

The council has drafted a comprehensive set of proposals to ensure the focus stays on meeting the needs of the Island's most vulnerable children by investing in early intervention, but also supports mainstream schools to enable greater inclusion and targeted support.

The plans are designed to maximise value for money to ensure services are sustainable.

The proposals will see:

• an emphasis on meeting needs early rather than waiting for statutory assessment;
• investing in training and helpful resources for school staff;
• a new special needs support line for school staff;
• a new Island-based primary behaviour service to support schools around behaviour management strategies;
• greater support in annual meetings for children with special educational needs;
• continuing the roll-out of electronic Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs);
• ensuring that financial support for each EHCP is right sized to ensure individual objectives are met;
• increasing the number of SEND caseworkers;
• increasing the number of specialist placement on the Island through the creation of a new SEN school and more resource provision places;
• a new employability hub to create better pathways for young people into supported internships and apprenticeships;
• additional post-16 placements through the creation of a new independence hub.

The plans are in the early stage of development and the council will work with parents, professionals and young people to shape them.

Councillor Debbie Andre, Cabinet member for children's services, education and lifelong skills, said: "This agreement will enable the council to continue to prioritise and support children and young people with special educational needs working with providers and parents.

"We aim to be there to provide the right level of support at the right time, at every step of a young person’s journey, and we work to ensure we make the right arrangements for children in our community.

"We are listening to parents and our Island children and we are taking a more joined up approach to provide the very best support possible for children and young people with SEND, putting their needs at the heart of decision-making, to ensure they are able to flourish and achieve their full potential.”