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Additional funding agreed to meet rising demand for SEND support

Wiltshire Councillors have agreed to fund additional posts to meet rising demand and provide effective ongoing support for children and young people with special educational needs and or disabilities (SEND).

Published 21 July 2021
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Wiltshire Councillors have agreed to fund additional posts to meet rising demand and provide effective ongoing support for children and young people with special educational needs and or disabilities (SEND).

Council leaders today (21 July) were asked to agree to provide an additional budget of £1.742m for 2022-23 to create additional posts within the Special Educational Needs and Inclusion Services

The financial investment will provide additional capacity to support the increased demand which has seen the number of Education Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) more than double in Wiltshire since 2015. This increase reflects the changes which were implemented as part of the Children and Families Act in 2014, including the increased age range encompassed within the legislation and an increase in new assessment requests, which is seen in national data.

The money for additional SEND officers will be used to provide support across all areas. This includes to support those in early years settings to identify and support pre-school aged learners with SEND and help them move successfully to schools.

The early years team is experiencing a marked increase in the number of children within early years presenting with additional needs in pre-schools, nurseries and childminding settings as more children return to their early years setting following lockdown and practitioners are able to identify their needs.

At the end of June 2016 the number of EHCP learners was 2,540, at the end of June 2021 these had risen to 4,219; an increase of 66% over five years.

The funding will also help officers currently having to deal with high caseloads. More resources will mean more scope for future planning to ensure adequate school places for learners with SEND, and more capacity to provide assessment, recommended packages of learning and ongoing support to families with children and young people with a EHCP.

Cllr Jane Davies, Cabinet Member for SEND said: "Our officers work hard to provide good ongoing support to our families and carers with SEND children. They are doing this against a backdrop of extreme pressures as cases have soared.

"This funding for additional posts will mean more available expertise to recognise early signs and provide support early so people are able to access the help they need. It will also help with future planning and ensuring families continue to receive the support they need and overall this will be good news for families and schools. We need to ensure a fit for purpose service to deliver our SEND and Inclusion Strategy, into the future."

Cabinet approved an additional £0.861M draw down from the latent demand reserve to fund the required part year investment in 21-22, rising to a total £1.742M in 2022-23 to increase capacity within SEND and Inclusion Services

Meanwhile the council continues to join calls for greater government funding to meet rising education costs for learners with SEN & disability.

The council has taken part in evidence gathering which it hopes will feed positively into discussions with Treasury and the DfE's SEN Review. 

The council recently received notification the high needs capital allocation of £2.055M for 21-22 which will assist with the creation of more specialist places in Wiltshire schools.

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Published 21 July 2021