Express & Star

Enhanced support to be provided for children with special needs in Staffordshire

Support for children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) in Staffordshire is set to be enhanced as part of new plans.

Councillor Jonathan Price said: "Our goal is to provide every child and young person in Staffordshire with the best start in life and the opportunity to achieve their full potential."

Over the last few years, the county has seen a significant increase in the overall SEND population, with 16 per cent of children in Staffordshire schools currently requiring special educational needs support or having an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP).

In Staffordshire, fewer children with Educational Health and Care Plans attend a mainstream school (27 per cent) compared to elsewhere in the country (40.5 per cent).

Two new strategies are due to be discussed at Staffordshire County Councils cabinet meeting on September 20 that will increase support for these children sooner and within their local mainstream school and increase special school places.

Firstly, the introduction of earlier enhanced support for mainstream educational settings to support children with additional needs. This support will be provided by the development of local SEND teams.

These teams will see Local Authority services working in partnership with groups of schools to provide rapid and effective support for children and their school.

Secondly, the Strategy for Special Provision sets out plans focusing on creating additional provision in Staffordshire’s special schools.

This provision has been developed in partnership with Staffordshire special schools and focuses on meeting the rise in needs associated with social, emotional, mental health needs and Autism.

Jonathan Price, cabinet member for education (and SEND) at Staffordshire County Council, said: "Our goal is to provide every child and young person in Staffordshire with the best start in life and the opportunity to achieve their full potential.

"These proposals mark a significant step towards achieving that vision. By increasing support within mainstream schools and creating additional provision in special schools, we are working to ensure that children with SEND receive the tailored support they need in their local communities."

Earlier this year, the proposals were shared as part of a formal consultation. More than 400 shared their thoughts on the proposals, ranging from parents, carers, health care professionals, schools, and colleges.

Councillor Price added: “We carefully considered the valuable feedback received during the public consultation and are confident that these initiatives will result in positive outcomes for our children and their families."

If the proposals are approved at Cabinet, it is expected that the new way of working will start in January 2024.