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County plans for special education needs heads to consultation

County councillors have agreed to put proposals out for consultation
County councillors have agreed to put proposals out for consultation

A consultation will be launched on a strategic plan by North Yorkshire County Council for how special education needs for children and young people are provided.

County councillors have agreed to put proposals out for consultation, which will begin next Friday (May 18). Currently operating with a high needs _budget of £44.8 million, the county council says it expects to spend £48.6 million, with an overspend of £4 million for the 2018/2019 period.

The plan for children and young people with education needs and disabilities (SEND) will see savings made and more flexible provision, say the county council.

Coun Janet Sanderson, North Yorkshire County Council Cabinet Member for the Children and Young People’s Service said: “We know that the demand for special educational needs is increasing, while our funding remains static.

“But we also believe that by using our funding to better effect by creating more localised, flexible and targeted provision, the County Council can make savings on expensive out-of-county placements and on home-to-school transport.”

She added: “The aim of this plan therefore is to create the best educational opportunities as locally as possible for those with special educational needs and disabilities in order to achieve the best outcomes in learning, social and emotional health and preparation for adulthood.”

The plan includes proposals such as an application for a new special free school in Selby, and exploring the potential for specialist satellite provision in the Ripon area.

It also aims to increase the number of places in the county’s special schools and address gaps in specialist provision.

Steering groups could also be set up, with parents, carers, headteachers and other professions helping to monitor performance and need of provision.

Out of almost 163,000 children and young people in North Yorkshire there are currently 2507 with Education and Health Care Plans. This is expected to rise to 3,450 by 2022.

While putting the plan to consultation, the county council is also lobbying the Government for higher levels of funding, and is calling on the support of MPs.

Coun Sanderson said:“Our high needs budget is under increasing pressure. In 2018-19 the budget will increase by only 0.3 per cent while overall demand rises by 15 per cent. We are lobbying Government for increased high needs funding and calling on the support of our MPs in this respect.”