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New programme to improve support for children and young people with SEND

Norfolk County Council, 23 January 2023 00:00

A new six-year programme to improve support for children and young people with SEND will see increased outreach support and advice for schools and early help for families, according to a report due to be considered by the council's cabinet next week.

Called Local First Inclusion, the new special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) improvement programme aims to continue to deliver hundreds of new specialist education places through two more new-build schools, and more specialist resource bases (SRBs) and school-led Alternative Provision.

New local support teams, due to be launched later in the year, aim to significantly improve support for schools and families providing earlier help to prevent needs escalating.

To help create the funding needed for Local First Inclusion, the cabinet report recommends asking Norfolk Schools Forum to agree 1.5% of schools' funding is moved to the high needs SEND budget to provide an additional £9m. This would need to be ratified by the Secretary of State for Education.

If agreed, the cash would be added to other funding for SEND from the Government's Dedicated Schools Grant of around £135m, plus £5.5m per year from the county council, achieving an overall sum of £150m for 2023/24.

Cllr John Fisher, cabinet member for Children's Services, said: "Our Local First Inclusion programme aims to build on the success of our SEND transformation programme, further improving and increasing the level of support not only for schools but also for communities.

"We aim to create a stronger, more sustainable system which not only meets needs but offers help earlier to prevent children and families getting to crisis point.

"Our recent Ofsted report upgrading Children's Services to good across the board with exemplary and exceptional practice demonstrates our proven track record for delivering real change."

Cllr Fisher added: "These are really tough times. Tough for schools, with pressures across the system, and challenging both locally and nationally for the council and schools in terms of supporting children and young people with SEND.

"Demand for specialist help and placements continues to outstrip both existing supply and our funding for the future provision which is so badly needed.

"We're confident Local First Inclusion will help us to ensure children and young people with SEND can get an education with the right support for their particular needs in their local area first, whether that's a special school or well-supported provision within the mainstream."

Local First Inclusion will be run by the county council working closely with schools. The council is awaiting confirmation of support for the programme by the Department for Education, which is working closely with 40 other councils across England and Wales on similar programmes.

Subject to additional financial support from the DfE, the aim of Local Inclusion First is that by 2029 there will be the right mix of educational places with the right support for all children and young people with SEND with a balanced budget providing a sustainable and effective system enabling this group of youngsters to flourish in their education.

Norfolk County Council currently has a deficit of £73.6m in its high needs SEND budget.

Last modified: 14 May 2024 12:44

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