Campaigners cautiously welcome county council efforts to improve SEND services - The Rugby Observer

Campaigners cautiously welcome county council efforts to improve SEND services

Rugby Editorial 8th Jun, 2024   0

CAMPAIGNERS have cautiously welcomed efforts to improve special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) services in Warwickshire.

Warwickshire County Council has approved a SEND Delivering Better Value programme – expanding specialist resource provision in the county’s schools from 176 to 529 places by 2028, backed by a £25million investment.

Other measures include ensuring more children with SEND receive support in the community, reviewing social care support, and a scheme to address school attendance.

The SEND National Crisis Warwickshire group said it was ‘broadly in support’ of the proposed improvements.




But a spokesperson criticised the Treasury’s refusal to fund the duties incumbent on schools and local authorities in the 2014 Children & Families Act and SEND Code of Practice.

They said: “This sought to address the systemic failures of previous governments to expect, plan and provide for the equitable education entitlements of the estimated 20 per cent of school aged children with additional needs.


“Added to this are successive cuts made by the government to vital services and education budgets since austerity was implemented from 2012 onwards.

“Layer on inflationary impact through cost of living and rising need and complexity due to disappearing and stretched services locally and we have the perfect storm.”

They also said WCC cuts made to children’s services and SEND budgets back in 2017 ‘harmed the county’s disabled and multiply disadvantaged children the most’.

They added: “The same Cabinet closed special nurseries, the Pupil Referral Unit, Sure Start centres and cut vital support for disabled children and those with additional needs, which has led to long waiting lists for many or the requirement to go out of area.

“Since 2019 we have campaigned for cross party lobbying for increased SEND funding in Warwickshire, which is significantly disadvantaged by the national funding formulae. We await a reply to our questions submitted publicly and privately to the council on this.”

WCC’s education spokeswoman Coun Kam Kaur said the new Delivering Better Value programme would ensure improved provision and help to keep pace with emerging needs and demand ‘while working towards longer term financial sustainability’.

She added: “This is essential so that we can continue to improve outcomes for children and young people and their families with SEND.”

A 2021 review into WCC’s SEND services raised ‘significant concerns about the effectiveness of the local area’, which led to WCC and the Coventry and Warwickshire Clinical Commissioning Group having to produce a Written Statement of Action to Ofsted that explained how ‘significant areas of weakness’ would be tackled.

And in January, the remarks of three Conservative councillors about SEND children were slammed as ‘offensive and ignorant’. An investigation into Councillors Brian Hammersley, Jeff Morgan and Clare Golby is expected to conclude this month. Visit https://tinyurl.com/427n34nj for updates.

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