Members of Lancashire County Council’s cabinet today (Thurs) approved the principals behind a new framework to re-focus the way Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) education is delivered in Lancashire.
There are currently 7,300 children and young people in the county who receive extra support with their schooling through an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP).
The majority of these pupils attend special schools, with others supported in mainstream schools, special educational needs units and resourced provision or Post 16 education.
However, The Children and Families Act 2014 and the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Code of Practice set out an expectation that most children and young people should be in mainstream schools, with additional support provided where appropriate.
At present 48.4 per cent of children and young people with an EHCP in Lancashire attend a special school, compared to the English average of 38.6 per cent.
The new framework will aim to improve outcomes for children with SEND by looking at a variety of factors, including enhanced provision in mainstream school.
The framework will also consider how the capacity of good and outstanding local specialist provision could be maximised and as well as whether the size, age range and school populations of existing special schools could be expanded to improve use of resources.
It will also look at developing a consistent offer providing choice and equality of access as well as sharing information to inform decision making.
County Councillor Phillippa Williamson, cabinet member for children, young people and schools, said: “”Our aim is to ensure we can deliver the best quality education for all pupils in Lancashire.
“Wherever possible, children should be educated in a mainstream school with their peers.
“But unfortunately at the moment it appears that too many children with special educational needs and disabilities do not get this chance.
“At the same time the cost associated with meeting need in special schools and independent provision is actually significantly more than in mainstream schools.
“This framework will allow us to consider the needs of children and young people with SEND, while ensuring choice for parents and carers.”
The new framework comes at a time other improvements are set to be made to the service provided to children and young people with SEND.
Cabinet members also agreed to review and redesign the short breaks service in partnership with parent carers, young people and providers following a consultation earlier this year.