Peterborough’s children may be “more needy” than in other parts of the country, a senior city council officer said during a meeting on special educational needs.
Sheelagh Sullivan, head of Special Educational Needs at Peterborough City Council, said: “Maybe the children of Peterborough are just more needy than in other parts of the country.”
She made the comment at Thursday’s Children & Education Scrutiny Committee which looked at a report on children and young persons special educational needs – SEN.
The report was generally positive, but highlighted the fact that the percentage of Peterborough’s children being looked after with SEN is 37.6 per cent, much higher than the national average of 26.7 per cent.
The report, which outlined the key elements of the city’s SEN strategy for the next five years, aims to improve outcomes for children and improve performance.
Among the strategic aims are:
. More timely identification of SEN
. A reduction in the number of exclusions involving children with SEN
. Parents to have increased confidence in the system
. The progress and attainment of youngsters with SEN to be as good as, or better than, those in comparable authorities.
Ms Sullivan went on to say: “I accept that a lot more improvement is needed, but I also see that we are moving in the right direction. It is vital for the children of Peterborough that this draft five-year strategy must get the theme right – SEN is in everybody’s interests.”
Cllr Alan Dowson said he was concerned that Peterborough’s academies were ‘removing’ youngsters with SEN and were ultimately being placed back with council run schools.
He said: “Are children with SEN being removed from Peterborough’s academies simply because they have the right to do so?”
Council director of education Jonathan Lewis replied: “I will not tolerate any school that does not give a child fair access to education.”