Extra £3.5m funding for children with special educational needs in Peterborough

An extra £3.5 million will be made available for special educational needs and disability (SEND) children in Peterborough next year, a meeting has heard.

Sunday, 22nd December 2019, 12:52 am

Members of Peterborough City Council’s Children and Education Scrutiny Committee were told on Tuesday by Jonathan Lewis, director of education: “The council and its partners has a number of statutory duties that are outlined in the SEND Code of Practice 2014, including the production of Education Health and Care Plans (EHCPs).

“The findings of the SEND Local Area Inspection and the associated Written Statement of Action will be presented in a report which we will then share regarding the development and launch of the joint SEND strategy across Peterborough and Cambridgeshire.

“Part of that includes an additional £3.5 million that will be made available in 2020 for SEND.”

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A protest in Peterborough over the support for children with special educational needs
A protest in Peterborough over the support for children with special educational needs

Mr Lewis was joined at the meeting by Tony Bailey, assistant director for SEND, Sheila Sullivan, head of SEND Inclusive Services, and Louise Ravenscroft from the National Network of Parent Carer Forums (NNPCF) and CEO of Family Voice Peterborough, an organisation supporting parents and carers of children and young people with disabilities.

Ms Ravenscroft said: “I live in Peterborough and have a son aged 21 who has profound and multiple learning disabilities and a daughter who is 18 and has complex mental health needs and a learning difficulty; it is partly due to wanting to achieve the best for them that led me into becoming involved in parent participation.

“During 2019, SEND gained a lot of publicity in Peterborough from parents protesting over a crisis in the system – including children being wrongfully excluded from schools. There has been strong criticism from regulators over the implementation of reforms in the city and desperate pleas for further funding from both charities and the city council.

“So the news that there will be additional funding of £3.5 million for SEND in 2020 comes as a welcome relief to many like me who have increasing numbers of children who need help and support.”

Mr Bailey said: “The report links to the ‘Children in Care Promises’ pledging: to support them to have a good education; making sure they are treated at school like any other pupil; supporting them to learn and achieve their full potential; and helping them to get skills so that they can care for themselves when they are older.

“In June 2019, Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) conducted a SEND inspection of Peterborough local area, and a number of strengths were identified, but also some areas for development. These included joint planning, including commissioning, that were not sufficiently well established to make sure that all agencies and services play an active role in meeting the requirements of the SEND reforms.

“In addition, while support is well embedded for children in early years it doesn’t follow through in all areas of the lives of children and young people as they get older. It takes too long for children, young people and families to get the support they need. The provision for young people aged 18 to 25 is not sufficiently developed to make sure that they have the full range of opportunities and support needed as they move through into adulthood.”

Cllr Nicola Day said: “I am delighted this additional funding will be used to alleviate the crisis that was well publicised earlier in the year. What outcomes do you expect in 2020 as result?”

Ms Sullivan replied: “SEND is everybody’s business, and our pledge is to improve the life outcomes for children and young adults expressed in our joint SEND strategy. As part of that we want to ensure that we continue improving our services so that Ofsted and the CQC rate the work done as ‘good’, with an ultimate goal of achieving an ‘outstanding’ rating.”

Robert Alexander, Local Democracy Reporting Service