More than £16 million to be ploughed into SEND schemes over the next two years, council says
More than £16 million will be spent on providing spaces for special needs children in mainstream schools and stop others from being sent outside Staffordshire.
Staffordshire County Council will spend £16.4m this year and 2023/2024 to support SEND youngsters to be educated in mainstream schools "where appropriate".
And the availability of high needs places will be increase in special schools to reduce the number of children being educated further afield, council chiefs have said.
Councillor Jonathan Price, Staffordshire County Council’s cabinet member for education and SEND, said: “Putting the right support in place in mainstream schools allows us to teach more children locally in their communities, rather than travelling each day to special schools often some distance away.
“Parents have told us that this what they want and we’re working with them and with schools to make this happen.”
The number of pupils with an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP) – a plan for those who need more support than is available through special educational needs support – in Staffordshire stands at 6,697, an increase of one per cent over five years to over four per cent
The figure is higher than the West Midlands average of almost four per cent. And the proportion of children in the county with an EHCP in mainstream education is 29 per cent, compared with 39 per cent nationally.
Councillor Price added: "We will be looking across the county to see where there is the greatest need and we will take action accordingly.
“This is a good news story of massively increased funding for an area where we can work with families to make a real difference so that their children, and pupils in future years, can be given the best opportunities to reach their potential by receiving the right support in their own communities.”
On Monday almost 300 people ranging from parents and carers to representatives of the county council and NHS will be meeting to discuss the way forward for implementing the new approach and the sharing of best practice across the eight districts and boroughs.