Education Secretary announces Special Educational Needs boost

Since my election last year, I have made it a priority to visit each of the 42 schools in the constituency in order to get to know the school community and its needs. 

The pressures on special educational needs services in Havering has been a consistent theme in my discussions with teachers and the parents of SEN children. I have therefore continued to highlight those pressures both to the Secretary of State for Education and to Havering Council's lead for children’s services.

I am very pleased to say this week that these representations have borne fruit, with Education Secretary, Damian Hinds, announcing an additional £250 million of high needs funding – £125 million for 2018-19; and £125 million for 2019-20. 

Looking at the breakdown of that figure, our borough of Havering will receive £611,278 extra in 2019-20 in high needs funding. This will be on top of its existing allocation.

Meanwhile the Secretary of State has allocated a £100 million top-up for new high-needs school places and improved facilities, and a removal of the cap on the number of special and alternative provision free school bids.

Alongside the additional cash will come a package of other measures to improve outcomes for those children and young people with special educational needs, and I paste below the full letter I received from the Education Secretary outlining these.

 

Rt Hon Damian Hinds MP
Secretary of State
Sanctuary Buildings Great Smith Street Westminster London SW1P 3BT

 

17 December 2018

Dear Julia,

EDUCATION: HIGH NEEDS PROVISION AND SUPPORT

I announced today via a Written Ministerial Statement, allocations to local authorities (LAs) of the Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG). In recognition of the cost pressures that LAs are experiencing on the high needs element of this Grant, I have also set out a range of further measures that I am taking alongside these allocations.

Our ambition for children with SEND is exactly the same as for every other child – to achieve well in school and college, find employment and go on to live happy and fulfilled lives. High needs funding has already risen by £1 billion, from £5 billion in 2013 to £6 billion this year. As part of our wide-ranging reforms to the SEND system in 2014, we introduced Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans, to ensure that support is tailored to the needs of individuals, and families are put at the heart of the process. Already, more than 320,000 children and young people are benefiting from these.

Today I am announcing, on top of existing high needs allocations:

 an additional £250 million of high needs funding – £125 million for 2018-19; and £125 million for 2019-20. I have published individual LA allocations today;
 a further £100 million top-up to the Special Provision Capital Fund for local authorities in 2019-20 to take our total investment to £365 million across 2018-21, for the new places and improved facilities they have identified they need in order to put more cost effective provision in place. This funding can be used for more places in SEN units and resourced provision in mainstream schools or colleges; in special schools; or in any of the other types of provision used for pupils and students with EHC plans. This funding is for places needed up to 2021 and the specific amount for each LA will be published in due course; and,
 removal of the cap on the number of special and alternative provision free school bids that we will approve as part of the current wave. Instead of approving around 30 bids, as we previously proposed, we now anticipate being able to approve all those LA bids that fully meet the criteria for the wave and will, therefore, contribute to relieving high needs funding revenue pressures.

Many LAs have already proposed to move funding between blocks of the DSG in 2019-20, principally from the schools block to the high needs block, in the
usual way. Given the announcement today of additional funding for the high needs block, we expect that some LAs may therefore want to review these
proposals. Where they have submitted requests to the department to do so, they may wish to reduce or remove their requests. We will provide a window
early in the New Year for authorities to do so.

Of course, extra funding cannot be our only response. Alongside central government, LAs, play an essential role in providing strategic leadership and
oversight of the services, provision and funding for children and young people with SEND in their area. While LAs must take the lead in this, I am clear that
they cannot act alone. There is a vital role for all education providers in an area - whether mainstream or special, school or college, within the area or outside it
– along with health services and working with families. Many LAs have embraced their new role as strategic commissioners, but more remains to be done.

We are seeing some excellent practice through our joint Ofsted/CQC local area SEND inspections, for example the recent positive inspections in Lincolnshire
and Milton Keynes, and I am pleased that the revisits to local areas who were required to produce a Written Statement of Action are now beginning. However,
the inspections are also showing that the experiences of children, young people and their families are inconsistent across education, health and social care.

Therefore, I have written today to Chairs and Chief Executives of LAs to outline several further supporting measures. These include:
 outlining the next steps to establish a new SEND System Leadership Board focused on improving local joint commissioning as recommended by Dame Christine Lenehan’s review into the experiences and outcomes of children in residential special schools and colleges. We are also establishing joint Ministerial roundtables with the Department for Health and Social Care to give providers, users and voluntary sector organisations further opportunities to input their views and insight across the SEND system. Nadhim Zahawi, Minister for Children and Families, has written separately to Dame Christine today to provide further details
on this;
 reviewing current SEND content in Initial Teacher Training provision (ITT) and building on our existing SEND specialist qualifications to develop a continuum of learning from ITT, through teachers’ early careers and into specialist and leadership roles in support of the upcoming Teacher Recruitment and Retention Strategy;
 ensuring a sufficient supply of Educational Psychologists (EPs), trained and working within the system to carry out the statutory functions linked to the EHC plan process, and to support teachers and families. We will be funding three more cohorts of EP trainees, starting in September
2020; and will increase the number of trainees from 160 to at least 206, to reflect increased demand;
 holding, in early 2019, an evidence-gathering exercise on the financial incentives in the current arrangements, in particular on the operation and use of mainstream schools’ notional SEN budget, which pays for the costs of special educational provision up to £6,000;
 commissioning ‘SEN Futures’, a flagship package of long-term research and analysis to provide evidence on the impact of current SEN provision on children and young people’s outcomes, and to assess the value for money of SEN provision in England. Procurement for the first pieces of work in this programme has begun today: more details on this can be found here.

I recognise the rising demand for EHC plans for those over 19, and the need for education, health and social care services to agree a shared vision of what good
life outcomes look like for an individual, and when it is right to cease an EHC plan. We have commissioned one of our delivery partners, the National Development Team for Inclusion to work with 20 local authorities to develop and model effective practice on this, and to share their findings across regions.

I also want to continue to ensure that services for young people with SEND effectively prepare them for adulthood, including employment: raising expectations and aspirations for young people, their parents, education providers and employers. My officials are working closely with the Department for Work and Pensions on this, and the Work and Pensions Secretary and I are committed to finding ways to support more young people with SEND into sustainable employment. I want our wider reforms to post-16 education, including T Levels, to be accessible to those with SEND and will continue to support close working between colleges, schools and local authorities to improve pathways to adulthood.

I want to continue engaging with local authorities, health providers, families, schools and colleges to better understand what is driving the cost pressures on high needs budgets, and to work with the sector to help manage them.

Damian Hinds
Secretary of State for Education