Special Needs improvements a key priority in Essex County Council’s latest budget

Education / Tue 14th Feb 2023 at 08:57am

FURTHER investment in Essex Special schools and increased support for children and young people with Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities (SEND) attending mainstream schools, are just some of the planned improvements for Essex in the coming year.

As part of its latest budget, Essex County Council (ECC) has set out how it will continue to fund statutory SEND services and maximise additional funding from the Government to continue to improve outcomes for children, young people and families.

Like other areas of the country, the Essex SEND system continues to face challenges. This is due in large part to a growing number of requests for Education, Health and Care Needs Assessment each year and pressure on capacity at Essex Special Schools. 

To mitigate these pressures, ECC is continuing to invest in support, both financially and in terms of prioritising key areas for improvement. It will also receive additional funding from the Government to address the challenges faced locally.

During 2023/24, ECC will receive a total of £226.7 million as part of the High Needs Block of the Government’s Dedicated Schools Grant. It will also spend £6.3million on supporting children and young people with SEND, across a range of different areas and services. 

Cllr Tony Ball, Essex County Council’s Cabinet Member for Education Excellence, Lifelong Learning and Employability, said: “We have been very open about the challenges we face as a SEND system in Essex and how these cannot be addressed by one organisation alone. We, along with our partners, have made progress but there is more to do.

“Our aim is for every child, young person and their family in Essex to feel the benefits of the improvements we are making. We have high aspirations and will continue to listen carefully to families so that we can be sure that our work is having the intended positive impact.”

ECC has already made progress on its SEND improvement journey and during 2023 will continue to build on this. This includes:

  • Further capital investment in Essex special schools, including new provision at Harlow Fields School and improvements at Castledon School in Wickford and Cedar Hall School in Benfleet.
  • The development of more specialist provision in mainstream schools to support children and young people closer to where they live.  
  • A new school – Hawthorns in Chelmsford – which is now open for children and young people with autism.  
  • The new Greenwell School in Harlow for children and young people with social, emotional and mental health needs which will open later in the year.  
  • Developing a plan to address the current pressures on special school places, focused on maximising capacity and identifying how and where special and mainstream provision may need to be expanded.
  • Maximising the use of the High Needs Block funding we receive from the Government to enable strategic investment in the SEND system. This includes support at an individual pupil level funding, workforce recruitment, retention and development and the development of earlier support.
  • Bringing together the work we have done on the Inclusion Framework and Ordinarily Available provision to support mainstream schools in delivering a truly inclusive system across the county.
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1 Comment for Special Needs improvements a key priority in Essex County Council’s latest budget:

David Forman
2023-02-14 12:16:36

Pleased to hear the news of the new Greenwell School in Harlow for children and young people with social, emotional and mental health needs which opens later this year.

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