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National bodies back improvement plan for children with special needs

A development plan to improve services for children in Staffordshire with special needs has been approved by Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission.

The County Council will now work with head teachers, the health service and parents in each of the county’s eight boroughs and districts to deliver the improvements.

Mark Sutton, the county council’s cabinet member for Children and Young People, said: “The last five years have seen the number of children with a special educational need or disability in Staffordshire increase by a third to more than 15,800.

“We made great strides in keeping up with the demands of this increase, which has been reflected across the country, but we must focus on working with health services, schools and parents to do more so that all children and young people with special educational needs are able to reach their full potential.

“Our detailed, practical plan on how we can achieve this has been endorsed by Ofsted and the CQC and we are determined to deliver its objectives.”

The plan was developed following a joint report by Ofsted and the CQC into the delivery of Special Education Needs and Disability (SEND) services in the county that are commissioned and delivered by the county council and schools with support of the Staffordshire NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs).

More than £350,000 has been earmarked by the county council for additional support workers and extra capacity to draft Education, Health and Care Plans for affected children.

The report’s authors noted that a great deal of new work had begun in the previous 12 months, including successful new approaches piloted in South Staffordshire and Leek where people are working together in their communities to reshape SEND support.

But it also asked for more to be done on several issues, including improved coordination and delivery across services, better sharing of good work across the county and improving pupils’ academic results.

The report also wanted more support for children using Pupil Referral Units and returning more pupils with SEND to mainstream education.

Mark Sutton added: “Doing more, doing it well and doing it consistently across the county with multiple partners requires more infrastructure and we are committing the necessary resource to make this work.”

Staffordshire County Council’s Cabinet will be updated on progress at a meeting next week.

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