The county council have agreed to invest more than £1m
Investments will be made to tackle Devon’s failing to meet the needs of children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities.
Devon County Council’s cabinet last week agreed to invest more than £1m to pay for around 23 full-time equivalent employees to accelerate the improvements required.
It follows an Ofsted report that concluded Devon has been ‘too slow’ in implementing national reforms that came into force in 2014 and that too few children and young people having an education, health and care (EHC) plan that meets their needs and aspiration.
The cabinet also agreed the Devon Children and Families Partnership Children and Young People’s Plan to be approved, the Education, Health and Care Plan (ECHP) Task Group recommendations be noted, and to once again lobby the Secretary of State for Education over the pressing need to increase funding for schools in Devon as there has been a real term reduction in schools funding of 10 per cent since 2009/10 and Devon gets £294 per pupil less than the national average.
Cllr Su Aves, Chairman of the Education Health and Care Plan task group, said that she welcomed the planning increased staffing levels and the other investment to improve educations plans in Devon, but that central government’s shortfall in special needs provision was a scandal.
She said: “This is clearly a crisis, with pupils and parents bearing the brunt of real-terms funding cuts and the wholly inadequate planning by Government. I hope that the work we have done, with this task group calling for action to tackle this crisis in SEND provision locally, will push the issue into the spotlight ahead of the government’s spending review later this year.”
“Across the country, despite a 33 per cent increase in the number of children requiring additional support since 2015, funding for SEND provision has only risen by six per cent in cash terms in the same period, this is obviously unsustainable.”
“The government should really be ashamed of this scandal. As is widely known Devon currently gets £294 less per pupil compared with the average given to other councils. Government needs to increase the amount of money going to our Devon children now so that the schools have the staff and resources to support the needs of children with SEND.
“This will also enable the Educational Health and Care plans to be followed and enacted in a timely way. The future of our SEND children and young people should be aspirational so that they are happy with their outcomes. Then they can hopefully lead more fulfilling and independent lives.”
“Devon children with SEND are being terribly let down and parents are getting extremely frustrated with the length of time it takes to get resources for schools to help their children.
“The fact that the majority of Education Health and Care (EHC) plans, previously statements, were not being completed within the statutory 20 week period in Devon was highly concerning. So the Devon County Council Children’s Scrutiny Committee in 2018 set up a task group to gather evidence to discover why this was the case, and what needed to be done to improve this service.
“The overriding evidence was that communication between all those involved in the production of an EHC plan was not good enough. This resulted in many plans not being specific enough for the young person or focussed enough on their needs which means the process of producing EHC plans urgently needed improving.
“I really welcome the planned increased staff levels and other investment to improve education plans for Devon children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities. Our local children with special educational needs will now get more help quicker due to recommendations from our task group.”
Five roles would help young people support, including those with autistic spectrum conditions and complex needs, prepare for adulthood, six would help deliver more timely Education, Health and Care Plans and 3.2 roles would increase capacity across children’s services.
For the temporary roles, one would be a Transformational Change SEND officer, four would be in the Eclipse team, three Quality Assurance Manager posts would be created, and there would be a part time Designated Social Care Officer would be hired.
Cllr James McInnes, cabinet member for children’s services, said that the investment being made supported the recommendations from the report and it would also be an invest to save scheme as it would strengthen the service and remedy some issues that children face.