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Government Announces Increased Support for Children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND)

SEND

Under plans announced by the Department for Education today, over a thousand new special school places have been confirmed, along with the building of an additional seven special free schools in Cambridgeshire, Kent, Merton and Norfolk.

Enhancing support for SEND

Over one thousand children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) are set to benefit from new plans unveiled today. In addition to the announcement of the building of more free schools yesterday across England, this investment will more than double the number of special free school places available across the country – from around 8,500 to 19,000. The Government argues this will ensure all children receive a quality education, tailored to their needs.

Furthermore, under new proposals, local authorities across the country have been selected to deliver a programme to test and refine the reforms to services for young people and families. Backed by £70 million, the local authorities will help inform the development of new national standards to improve the consistency of provision across the country. To address feedback from families that the current system is often fragmented with agencies not collaborating effectively, each area will also bring together education and health services, as well as parents and families to develop an inclusion plan that sets out how they will deliver local services in a coordinated way.

The Government is also confirming today an expansion in training for early years staff, adding an extra 2,000 training places for early years special educational needs coordinators on top of the 5,000 already announced.

This follows recent confirmation that high needs funding is increasing by a further £440 million for 24/25, bringing total funding to £10.5 billion – an increase of over 60% since 2019-20.

Measures confirmed in the Improvement Plan included:

  • A new leadership level National Professional Qualification for Special Educational Needs Co-ordinators (NPQ for SENCOs), ensuring SENCOs have the training they need to provide the right support to children.
  • A new approach to AP will focus on preparing children to return to mainstream or prepare for adulthood. AP will act as an intervention within mainstream education, as well as high-quality standalone provision, in an approach that meets children’s needs earlier and helps prevent escalation.
  • An extension until March 2025  to the AP Specialist Taskforces, which work directly with young people in AP to offer intensive support from teams made up of experts, including mental health professionals, family workers, and speech and language therapists, backed by an additional £7 million investment.
  • A doubling of the number of supported internship places by 2025, from around 2,500 to around 5,000, backed with £18 million of funding to help young people make the transition into adulthood.
  • £30 million to go towards developing innovative approaches for short breaks for children, young people and their families, providing crucial respite for families of children with complex needs – the programme funds local areas to test new services including play, sports, arts and independent living activities, allowing parents time to themselves, while their child enjoys learning new skills. 13 local authorities are taking part in the second year of the programme.

Responses

Minister for Children, Families and Wellbeing, Claire Coutinho said: Making sure children with special educational needs and disabilities get a superb education is a priority. Today we’re making sure that those reforms are informed by the experiences of real families, up and down the country, and creating the thousands of new places at specialist schools and in staff training courses that are needed to make sure our plan is a success.

Moreover, Education Secretary, Gillian Keegan, celebrated the announcement on X arguing that “every child deserves a world-class education, and today, we’re taking the next step towards delivering this”.

Moreover, Secretary for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Michael Gove regarded the announcement as “brilliant news” and stated that “free schools have transformed the lives of thousands of children for the better – these new schools will help even more succeed”.

Curia’s Levelling Up Commission

The Levelling Up Commission intends to consider ways to implement the Government’s Levelling Up White Paper and subsequent Bill from the perspective of local and regional government. Too often the Levelling Up agenda is something being done ‘to and for’ local and regional government, the Commission intends to make sure it is done ‘with and by’ them.

Through roundtable meetings with MPs and senior leaders of local and regional government from across the UK, quantitative data analysis and regional sprints, the Commission intends to set out a series of recommendations to consider how regional inequalities can be reduced from the perspective of public services in four key areas:

Health and Social Care

Housing and Homelessness

Education, Skills and Training

Crime, Justice and Rehabilitation

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