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SEND In The Frame ! What A Surprise ? High Court Showdown : 26 June On Spending Cuts & Other News - Page 2 - Carers UK Forum

SEND In The Frame ! What A Surprise ? High Court Showdown : 26 June On Spending Cuts & Other News

For issues specific to caring for someone with learning disabilities
Special needs education breaking our budgets, warn councils

Sharp rise in pupils requiring special support leads to £100m overspend in England.

Anything but inclusive – no place for three sisters.

County councils across England are warning that the cost of covering special needs education is breaking their budgets, with local authorities overspending by more than £100m last year to meet the sharp rise in demand.

Research by the County Councils Network found that some councils had recorded a 90% increase in young people being given care plans requiring special support, with 27 county councils overspending by a total of £123m in 2018-19 at a time when local authority purses are under severe pressure.

MPs on the education select committee have published a report on school funding in England that calls for £1.2bn to fill the deficit in provision for special educational needs and disabilities (Send).

The county councils said the number of young people on education, health and care plans (EHCPs) requiring additional support in their areas had risen by 50,000 in five years following reforms introduced by the 2014 Children and Families Act.

Carl Les, Conservative leader of North Yorkshire county council and the network’s spokesman on children’s services, said the 2014 reforms – which raised the age limit for statutory support to 25 – had been “well intentioned” but were causing severe difficulties.

“Additional demand … has created a financial crisis for some local authorities, with huge rises seeing costs spiral out of control,” he said. “Counties already face a funding gap of £21.5bn over the next five years, and if we continue to overspend at the level we have done it will break many of our budgets.”

Les added that the cost burden was falling on other service areas, with local authorities shifting funds from “mainstream pupils” and reducing preventive services – an approach that would “only store up problems for the future”.

Councils would be forced to make further compromises on their quality of service, he added. “This is why we are urging the new government to urgently inject funding into special education.”

With the number of children and young people on EHCPs rising from 240,000 in 2015 to 354,000 this year, the impact on county councils has been repeated across England.

The network’s call was echoed by the Commons education select committee, whose report on school funding calls for a 10-year settlement along the lines of that agreed for the NHS last year.

It recommends an immediate increase of £760 per student in further education colleges to “urgently address underfunding” in the sector, with FE and sixth-form colleges among the hardest hit by funding contractions, and a “multibillion-pound investment” in schools.

Robert Halfon, the Conservative MP who chairs the education committee, said he wanted “a proper 10-year plan and long-term funding settlement” for school budgets.

“There is a crisis of confidence in the ability of mainstream schools to provide adequate Send support. This needs to be tackled through increased school funding to support better early intervention,” he said.

Jules White, a secondary school headteacher who helped found the Worth Less? group to lobby for better funding, welcomed the call for an increase in per-pupil funding and said there was an urgent need for more support for special needs education.

He said: “It’s a devastating report and the Department for Education and wider government should be ashamed that they have failed to publicly recognise and then adequately address a funding crisis that’s having severe ramifications for the most disadvantaged children and all schools across the country.”
Is Lancashire ready for special needs revisit ?

Lancashire could struggle to show that it has made enough progress in improving its special needs services for young people before regulators return to the county later this year.

That was the assessment of a member of the body set up to turn the service around after a highly critical OFSTED report back in 2017.

Sian Rees, improvement lead for the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) Partnership, said that Lancashire County Council and the NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) in its area needed to be “realistic” about the conclusions inspectors will draw during a revisit expected in the coming months.

“We are making progress, but the expectation from OFSTED is…that we will have made progress on every single one of the 12 areas [of weakness identified in the last inspection] by whatever they consider to be a sufficient amount.

“The word from other local authorities who have been through a re-visit is that you [have to be] making an impact – and that’s where we will struggle,” Ms. Rees told a meeting of the Lancashire health and wellbeing board.

She added that council and NHS partners had “probably done a bit too much talking” and now needed to move on to concrete action.

A 94-point improvement plan is being worked through over the next 18 months in an attempt to address the dozen concerns outlined by OFSTED last time they visited. They included a failure to engage effectively with parents and carers and the absence of a plan to improve outcomes for SEND children.

Edwina Grant, director of children’s services at Lancashire County Council, highlighted two specific OFSTED concerns which had been slow to see improvement.

“There are still issues for our young people as they transition [into adulthood]…even though we have made improvements,” Ms. Grant said.

But she presented a more nuanced picture about the process of drawing up education health and care plans (EHCPs) which identify the support which SEND children require.

“I get quite a lot of letters from parents expressing dissatisfaction at the speed of their EHCPs, but we need to [distinguish] between a parent who says they have no plan and a parent who hasn’t agreed to the plan yet.

“We do go the extra mile and work with parents to get the plan exactly how they wish it, but then you suddenly find you have gone outside the [expected] timeframe,” Ms. Grant added.

She also suggested that the complexity of working across so many CCG areas – while not “an excuse” – might explain the level of improvement which it had been possible to make so far.

Lancashire County Council leader Geoff Driver said he was not surprised that officers were being cautious about the possible outcome of the revisit.

“The last inspection resulted in the most damning report I’ve seen about a local authority service,” he said.

The meeting heard that while SEND services continued to attract complaints, they received an almost equal number of compliments.
HI Chris,
any further reports/info on this?

Chris From The Gulag wrote:
Wed Jun 26, 2019 12:56 pm
Under starter's orders ... and ... there off !

Families fight government in court over 'Chronic underfunding " for special needs.

Case to argue councils are unable to provide education to children with Send because of cuts.
Still in progress as I type.

( Last main media report ? Sky news ... 28 June : https://news.sky.com/story/we-feel-like ... g-11749019 )

One of over 40 ongoing issues I trawl through daily ... for my sins !

What will the forum do when I finally hang up me deerstalker ???
Thanks Chris.

I think there needs to be a similar social care challenge by disabled/families of disabled … (we are all just too busy caring and juggling to do it.)

Chris, you aren't thinking of giving up your News role, just yet, surely?! If you have a talent - use it!

More like explotation , Melly ... ???

Filling a chasm that CUK should be doing !!!

After all , what's the expertise in simply making Internet searches ?

Lost on most posters ???

As I type , thinking of ways to help the food banks more ... especially my fledgling local one.

The main difference is the users ... trapped in the System at the most basic level.

( Even the ladies running my local one flinch everytime a child accompanies their parent / guardian. )

Carers ?

Only they , collectively , can change things.

Hiding behind their role as carers is no excuse.
Hi Chris,
You get a lot more readers than you do comments - myself included - because the news is so depressing. Often, I'm speechless. I tend to stick to the threads that interest me/ are relevant to our situation when in member mode ( and not in mod mode,)

Spec for forum news editor: interest in the news, passion to keep carers informed, IT skills, ability and willingness to devote time ...

We have food banks here we donate too.

In our city this summer, there is a free scheme that offers food and activities to children four days a week for a month in various venues. Leaflets went out via schools etc

Good to see your manor responding to the call !

https://www.carersuk.org/forum/news-and ... t-we-37504

I trust that the CUK team are also contributing today in their curry / chips / bovril visit to the second city ???

( When many parents need to work during the school holidays , often leaving the eldest sibling in charge of the younger ones ,
who ensures that the eight year old has enough to feed his / her younger siblings ? )

Surge in reports of children being left at home during school holidays, NSPCC says.

Charity reveals 21 per cent rise in reports of children being left unsupervised over summer months.

Massive special report on the BBC web site on children with special needs staying at home :

The children with special needs who stay at home.

While most children around the UK are now on their school holidays, many children with special educational needs (SEN) have already been at home for months, in some cases years.

It is a trend which England's schools standards watchdog Ofsted has described as a "national scandal".

The BBC visited four children with SEN who spend their school days at home.


Picture gallery completed with individual stories.
Parents devastated by closure of Bristol special needs school.

Children " Traumatised " by sudden closure of St Christopher’s over safeguarding concerns.

Parents have expressed their devastation at the sudden closure of a special needs residential school in Bristol, which left their children – who have severe and complex learning difficulties – distraught and without suitable alternative placements.

Parents were called at work and summoned to pick up their children from St Christopher’s – an independent special school and care home in Westbury Park in the north of the city – after the schools’ regulator Ofsted suspended its registration because of safeguarding concerns.

Police have confirmed they are investigating allegations of child cruelty and a number of staff have been suspended pending the outcome of the investigation. However, parents are furious at the way the closure was handled, with little warning or apparent forethought.

Parents were handed their children’s belongings in black binbags, while some children were bussed to emergency placements around the country. Other parents, who have not lived with their children for years due to their extreme, challenging behaviour, had no choice but to take them home.

One parent described witnessing an “auction”, as alternative providers selected pupils they were willing to take on while rejecting others. Some parents said they were having to give up work to look after their children; others said their children had been traumatised by the experience and had regressed.

“I feel they have left the children in a more vulnerable position than if they would have stayed there,” said James Cole, whose 13-year-old son Jacob has lived at St Christopher’s for a year and a half. “To just pull the plug without any due care to the lives of those children is unbelievable.”

Jacob, who has autism, epilepsy and displays challenging behaviour, is now at home while his parents struggle to find an alternative place. “St Christopher’s was quite unique in that it took so many children with so many complexities because they had such good services there. It’s hard to find that replicated elsewhere.”

Cole said it took months of careful investigations for parents with children like Jacob to find suitable placements, which can cost around £300,000 a year. Yet the sudden closure of St Christopher’s meant some children were moved elsewhere in hours. “It was absolutely dreadful,” he said.

One mother, who asked to remain anonymous, described seeing her 15-year-old son lying on the grass sobbing, his carers lying alongside, cuddling him and crying too. “These poor children. It’s had a massive impact on them,” she said.

“It’s heartbreaking, absolutely heartbreaking. Parents were standing with their children’s belongings in black bin bags, crying, while their children were being loaded into vans and being sent to other areas of the country. I understand they had their reasons [for closing the school], they are protecting our children, but they’ve made these children very vulnerable.”

Her son is now at home, which will have an enormous impact on family life. “He is very stressed. He is going to miss all the really good carers who looked after him. He had an amazing team around him. We will not let our son go anywhere else now.”

Other parents are having to contemplate travelling huge distances to find a suitable placement. “We live in Bath and we’ve been offered a place in Northumberland or Shrewsbury,” said Kevin Maxwell, whose 16-year-old son, Jonah, is one of the 27 pupils moved out of St Christopher’s last week.

An Ofsted spokesperson said St Christopher’s was inspected in June and judged to be inadequate. The inspection related to the residential part of the provision, rather than the school. “On Monday 29 July, we issued St Christopher’s with a suspension of registration notice because of serious concerns about safeguarding.”

Avon and Somerset police confirmed: “We’re investigating allegations of child cruelty offences relating to a special education school in the north Bristol area. We’re working with our multi-agency partners to ensure that safeguarding measures are being put in place and Ofsted has been notified. Parents have been contacted. Some members of staff have been suspended while our investigation continues.”

In 2016 St Christopher’s was threatened with closure because it had become economically unviable and was taken over by the Aurora Group, a private company specialising in special education care. An Aurora spokeswoman said: “We are deeply concerned about the serious allegations against a small number of staff who were immediately suspended,” a spokesperson said.

“They were reported to the authorities straight away in line with our safeguarding procedures. We are now focused on doing all that we can to support the children, young people, their families and carers, and the many caring and dedicated staff who are affected during this difficult time.”

Dr Jacqui Jensen, executive director of people services at Bristol city council, which is one of the local authorities responsible for pupils at the schools, said: “We are working with the families, other local authorities and a range of partners to review everyone’s individual care plans and make alternative arrangements for the provision of care and education.”