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Surge in children seeking special educational needs support

Surge in children seeking special educational needs support
The number of children seeking support from councils has risen by nearly a quarter in a year.

The number of children in England seeking special educational needs and disability (SEND) support from councils has risen by nearly a quarter in a year, according to the latest data.

O Local Government Association has called for emergency action to ensure this rising demand for support is met.

The LGA has said that Governo needs to resolve the high needs deficits built up by councils as a result of rising costs which outstrip the SEND budgets available to them.

The fact that 170 children and young people with SEND are starting EHC plans each day demonstrates the huge pressures councils are under to ensure every child gets the very best support that meets their needs

Councillor Anntoinette Bramble

The number of initial requests for an Education, Saúde and Care plan, setting out the individual SEND support a child needs, fell to 75,951 dentro 2020, following four consecutive years of increases, and then jumped by 23% para 93,302 dentro 2021, according to the latest figures.

The LGA said there were 62,180 new EHC plans made in the last year, equal to 170 children and young people starting a plan each day. It said there are now nearly half a million – 473,255 – young people on EHC plans, an increase of over 100% since eligibility for SEND support was extended to those aged 16 para 25 dentro 2014.

Councillor Anntoinette Bramble, chair of the LGA’s Crianças and Young People Board, disse: “The fact that 170 children and young people with SEND are starting EHC plans each day demonstrates the huge pressures councils are under to ensure every child gets the very best support that meets their needs.

“While it was good the Government set out much-needed reforms to tackle where the current SEND system is not working, these will take time to be implemented.

“Action is needed now to help councils meet the rising demand and spiralling costs of providing support that they are seeing on a daily basis.

“This is why we are urging the Government to eliminate councils’ high needs deficits, which would help to significantly relieve the strain on councils’ budgets and enable them to better support children with SEND.”

The LGA added that improving the inclusion of pupils with SEND in mainstream schools was also “vital” in easing the strain on councils, such as the introduction of incentives for schools to take more pupils with SEND, and powers for councils to hold schools accountable over their provision.

The Government is consulting over proposed SEND reforms set out in a green paper earlier in the year. Council leaders will gather at the LGA’s annual conference in Harrogate to discuss the reforms on Thursday, with education secretary Nadhim Zahawi set to address the conference.

Mary Bousted, secretário-geral adjunto da União Nacional de Educação, said that the LGA’s calls for more inclusion and an end to high needs deficits was correct but that a “more fundamental change in attitudes” across the school system was needed.

She said that the value of an EHC plan had been cut by 29% in real terms since 2015-16, resulting in a funding gap of £3.6 billion.

“Funding pressures in schools in general are leading to reduced not increased inclusion in mainstream schools," ela disse.

“The loss of experienced and qualified teaching assistants and learning support assistants working with students in class means that many SEND students have little or no additional class support in mainstream settings, which leads to increased EHCP applications.

“The Green Paper fails to recognise the value of this support and includes just one paragraph about support staff.”

She added that pressures for all pupils to sit SATs and GCSEs had created greater levels of anxiety and disaffection among pupils and more applications for EHC plans.