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Earlier support for children with additional needs at heart of council plan


The county council will push forward with plans to improve the way children with additional needs are supported at school and as they move into adulthood.

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 we see children who 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.

Children need to be healthy and happy to learn at their best. The Joint Additional Needs and High Needs Transformation Programme (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 includes a number of key projects:

  • 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 which will enable schools and families to help children 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.

With a 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 inform the High Needs Strategy which was approved by council’s Cabinet in March 2019.

Since then, 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.

Cllr Richard Boyles, cabinet member for children’s safeguarding and early years, said “Supporting all children in the county to reach their full potential is a must. Identifying that a child needs support, as soon as they need it, will also help reduce the need for Education Health and Care Plans (EHCP), and the number of permanent exclusions from school.

“This isn’t about less funding or less support, it’s about using the money and the resources we have available to ensure we make the most impact on a young person’s school life and beyond. We will continue to work closely with parents and carers, schools and other professionals as we start to put the agreed plans into action.

This work will support our wider Children’s Services Transformation Programme which will continue our journey of improving services to children and bring together all support that we offer.”

For more information about the 2018 consultation and the JHNTP click here.

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