"Call to arms" issued for North Yorkshire special education funding

North Yorkshire County Council chief Richard Flinton issued a "call to arms" about special education funding on Monday.
North Yorkshire County Council chief Richard Flinton issued a "call to arms" about special education funding on Monday.

North Yorkshire County Council chief executive Richard Flinton has issued a "call to arms" for Government help on special education funding at an inclusion conference run by the county council in York.

Senior officers, directors of service and chief executives from councils across the North attended the conference, which saw Mr Flinton call on the Government to urgently join council leaders “to help young people and their families to face their difficult circumstances with more hope and more support”.

Mr Flinton said in his opening address that since 2015 the North has seen a 38 per cent rise in children and young people with Education Health and Care Plans, five per cent higher than the national rise.

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The ballooning figures of students requiring support has led to a high needs overspend in Yorkshire and the Humber predicted to reach £43m this year alone.

"We urgently need Department of Education, ministers and officials to sit down with representatives from local government to look at how we can, together, make the case for more funding and how, together, we can make the system work more effectively," Mr Flinton said.

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It came the same day as it was announced a new school for children with special educational needs will open in Selby, following a successful bid for Government funding from North Yorkshire County Council.

The county council put in a bid to the Department of Education last year for a special school at Selby, which currently doesn't have one, with the success of that announced on Monday.

The Selby school will be one of five new institutions for Yorkshire and the Humber, with Hull, Leeds, North Lincolnshire and Sheffield also securing successful bids in a move that is expected to create up to 500 new places for children with special education needs.

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North Yorkshire County Councillor Patrick Mulligan, executive member for education and skills, said the development would aid both local children and the wider region.

"Having a special school in the Selby area will bring benefits that we expect would see improvements for children and young people across education, health and care," he said.

The bid for the school was part of the North Yorkshire County Council’s Strategic Plan for Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Education Provision.

The Selby school will cater for up to 100 pupils aged three to 19.

Free schools are state-funded academies operated by academy trusts, with the Department for Education now set to invite applications to finds trusts to open the school.