Urgent Call for Local Government Empowerment in Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND)
The Local Government Association (LGA) has urgently called upon the Government to expedite legislation that would grant councils the authority to spearhead local ‘SEND systems’. This plea is made in light of an impending Commons debate on SEND provision and funding scheduled for Thursday, 11th January.
Councils have voiced concerns regarding previous reforms implemented in accordance with the Children and Families Act 2014, asserting that these reforms have fallen short of their objective to enhance provisions for children and young people with SEND. The LGA contends that these reforms lacked the necessary powers and funding to enable councils to adequately meet the needs of SEND children or hold health and education partners accountable for their contributions to local SEND systems.
In proposing a path forward, the Association recommends that the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) take on the role of coordinating capacity issues affecting children’s social care, SEND, and early years across the Government. Furthermore, it suggests that the Government utilise the SEND improvement plan to acknowledge the intricate relationship between special educational needs, emotional well-being, and mental health.
The LGA also advocates for the establishment of mental health support teams within schools and increased investment in community-based mental health support for children unable to access school-based mental health services. Councils caution that the current proposals fall short in addressing the escalating demand for mental health support and do not sufficiently cater to the specific requirements of children with special educational needs.
Demand for Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) continues to surge annually, with a 9% increase from 2022, resulting in 517,000 children and young people currently holding EHCPs. On this matter, the LGA expresses scepticism that the Government’s SEND and Alternative Provision improvement plan will lead to a slowdown or halt in this increase.
The LGA’s briefing can be found here: