Northumberland County Council is consulting on its Draft Strategy for Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND), which aims to increase school place capacity to meet the demand for children with SEND in specialist and mainstream provision. This is compulsory under Section 30 of the Children and Families Act 2014.
Approximately 1400 (3%) of the school age population in Northumberland will have complex Special Educational Needs (SEN). This does not include a wider group of children who do not have Education and Health Care (EHC) plans, but are identified and recorded as needing additional SEN support. Taken together, this accounts for approximately 7000 (16%) children in Northumberland.
Northumberland faces a number of challenges:
A lack of places in specialist schools to meet age ranges and SEND.
Rapidly increasing demand for provision for learners with high needs Autistic Spectrum Disorder and Social Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH).
New pattern of service needs in younger age groups.
Specialist provision is difficult to access across the whole of the county.
Out of county placements are increasing and are therefore not easily available to parents and children.
The aim of the draft strategy is to grow specialist provision within Northumberland to ensure children with SEND are educated close to home in high quality education establishments.
This will provide specialist places for pupils who can’t access mainstream education, locally based specialist provision in the mainstream schools and affordable and sustainable provisions within current and future national funding streams.
Therefore, the key part of the proposals is an expansion of SEN provision in existing providers and new sites. This is broken down in a very broad potential model based on school partnership areas at the end of the consultation document.
The draft strategy also proposes to:
Develop transition pathways from childhood into adulthood so that it is clearer how young people are supported moving into adulthood. This will include a review of Personal Budgets across education, health and care and ensuring there are clear pathways and information available for children and young people.
Develop joint commissioning with education, health and social care working together and pooling their money to ensure best value and outcomes for children, young people and families.
Continue working with all partners to raise standards of attainment for SEND children with special reference to Key Stages 2 and 4, widening options for post-16 learners and strengthening the contracting arrangements to include the provision of individualised performance data.