• Victoria Gallagher

Staffordshire Council Pledges To Improve Services For Special Needs Children

Youngsters living in Staffordshire could benefit from better facilities and services in the future, as the local authority has promised to do more to support families of children with educational needs or disabilities.

Last week, Staffordshire County Council revealed a report created by Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission into how Special Education Needs and Disability (SEND) is delivered in the area.

The report highlights several things that could be improved, with the help of the local authority, schools and Staffordshire NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups. These included more support for kids with Pupil Referral Units; improving co-ordination and delivery across services; and sharing good work around the region.

The council’s cabinet member for children and young people Mark Sutton noted the number of children with special educational needs or disabilities in Staffordshire has grown by 33 per cent, totally over 15,800. However, he said: “Government funding has not kept pace.”

While Mr Sutton claims the authority has “done a great deal”, it has found it hard to cope with the large demand on its services, adding: “The report clearly identifies where we need to focus and we are committed to working with health services, schools and parents themselves to do better.”

Before Christmas, parents, schools, MPs and user groups in Staffordshire were asked what changes could be made to the SEND provision, with their answers helping to formulate the plan for improvement.

This comes after the BBC revealed 26,505 children in England with special educational needs between 2014 and 2018 waited more than 20 weeks for an education, health and care plan (EHCP), which outlines the support the child requires and are entitled to. One applicant in Suffolk waited nearly three years to find out about their EHCP.

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