by Carol Linton on 16 January, 2018
Education, Health and Care Plans were introduced in 2014 to identify additional support requirements for children and young adults up to 25 years of age. They aim to be more robust than the previous Special Education Needs (SEN) assessments and cover a wider age range.
Bucks County Council has been struggling to convert 100 SENs into EHCPs a month, and yet they assured the Scrutiny Committee on Jan 10th 2018 that they will complete over 200 a month before the deadline at the end March.
Of the new requests for EHCPs in the last year, just 24% were completed within the target 20 weeks. Half the requests are still outstanding at this moment. The department has admitted that it has no information on children who receive developmental support or speech and language help prior to starting school. This means that the department has no means of planning support for those children as they start school and the children are without support until the school identifies a problem and requests assessment by the council. School are reluctant to do this because they know the paperwork involved and the small amount of support that may eventually be provided.
Children and families are not receiving simple support early enough, raising the risk of expensive and long-term support later. These children could suffer life long difficulties because they can’t learn to read (until they can speak clearly) or because they cannot fit into a social group.
The 2018/19 Budget for Special Educational Needs is being cut, while talking about more preventive services to reduce the high number of permanent exclusions. Bucks has high levels of pupils in (expensive) Special schools and a large disadvantaged pupil attainment gap. It seems as though the budget is being balanced by pushing all the educational support requirements into the schools (with no funding) and telling the schools to coordinate between themselves to solve any problems.
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