Cabinet to consider new approach for supporting children and young people with additional needs
On 30 January, Gloucestershire County Council’s cabinet will be asked to approve plans for new ‘primary hubs’ to help children and young people with additional needs make better progress at school.
More children than ever need intensive help and support because they have learning difficulties or struggle to cope with life at school. If approved, the new primary hubs will provide a variety of support for all primary schools in the county to further meet the individual needs of children, including outreach support and short term placements.
In addition, the progress of children with additional needs is not as good as that of other children and too many young people are being excluded from school. The primary hubs will also aim to reduce exclusions and provide peer support for parents and carers within a school community.
Like many other local authorities, this increase in demand is putting huge financial pressures on the funding available for supporting children with additional needs, resulting in a projected overspend of £4.7million in the high needs budget in 2018/19.
In June 2018, Gloucestershire County Council launched a public consultation asking children, young people and their families, as well as schools and other professionals, for their views on a number of proposals. The proposals, including the primary hubs, are designed to maximise support for children and young people with additional needs, and use high needs funding more effectively. 75 per cent felt that the hubs would help children access quicker and more effective support.
Richard Boyles, cabinet member for children and young people said “Supporting all children in the county to reach their full potential is a must. Like all local councils demand for additional support is increasing. We need to be looking to the future, finding long term solutions to bridge this gap. The primary hubs will not only provide effective early intervention – working with the child at the earliest possible time – they will help to reduce the need for Education Health and Care Plans, and the number of permanent exclusions from primary schools.”
High needs funding is a national government responsibility but the recommendation is that the council use some of its own money, currently in an Education Risk Reserve to get work started. If approved, the council will work closely with headteachers, parents, and others to make sure that this additional funding quickly and effectively helps those children who are struggling, for whatever reason.