The Joint Additional Needs and High Needs transformation programme (JHNTP)
The number of children who need help and support because they have learning difficulties or they struggle to cope with life at school, continues to grow. With Covid-19 bringing more uncertainty to many, this need is expected to be even greater going forward. In some cases, children only get the help they need once they have been excluded from school, are too anxious to attend or have had to wait for a formal assessment of their special educational needs.
At the moment, the education system is not working well for some children with ‘additional needs’. The number of children having to rely on an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) to get support in school is increasing rapidly and the progress of children with additional needs is not as good as that of other children. Too many children are being excluded from school. These issues are in common with other local authorities across the country.
In addition to these concerns, like other local authorities, our High Needs budget is overspending but there are changes we can make that will improve the lives of children with additional needs and will use our funding more effectively. This is not about spending less, but spending it in a better way for children.
With the growing number of young people needing help, the council knew they needed to re-think the way they did things. So, in June 2018, children and their families, as well as schools and other professionals, were asked for their views on a number of proposals to change the way services support children with additional needs. The feedback from this consultation helped to inform the High Needs Strategy which was approved by council’s Cabinet in March 2019. This set out actions for the council to take which are underpinned by the broader commitment of agencies in the county to provide the right support, in the right place, at the right time for children and young people through the Joint Strategy for Children with Additional Needs, including SEND (2018-21).
To help us fulfil the High Needs Strategy, the Joint Additional Needs and High Needs Transformation Programme (JHNTP) was set up to drive this transformation work forward.
The JHNTP aims to identify a child’s needs at the earliest point in their education so that professionals in education, health and social care can work together sooner to put a plan in place, which will further enhance a child’s whole school-life experience.
The programme will include a number of projects that will help children get the help they need, when they need it. These include:
- Making funding available to schools earlier. The council will make existing funding and support available to schools much earlier; so that children and young people have the help they need, when they need it.
- School inclusion clusters. The council will support the development of primary and secondary school inclusion clusters to help schools and families enable children to learn and thrive in the best way possible. The clusters will be led by schools and supported by teams of professionals in education, health and social care, with inclusion at the heart of each assessment.
- Alternative provision. The council will transform alternative provision in the county to support children and young people who have been, or are at risk of exclusion. The council will focus on high quality, ‘closer to home’ interventions and provision for primary school children.
Since the consultation, the council has continued to work with schools and the Parent Carer Forum, who represent parent carers in the county, to develop what the agreed proposals will look like in practice.