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Major investment plans to support improvement of SEND services

03 May 2024

WNC council offices

Councillors will meet next week to consider plans to invest an extra £1.35 million into services for children and young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) and those in need of Alternative provision to help address a significant and ongoing rise in service demand.

In just three years West Northamptonshire Council (WNC) has seen a 40% increase in requests for Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) – an important document that sets out the specific educational needs of a youngster with SEND and the support they require. The rise in EHCP requests from 2,612 in April 2021 to 3,646 this month is considerably higher than that faced by other councils, continuing to put unprecedented pressure on the Council’s SEND team, and wider partnership impacting the ability to manage demand.

At their meeting in Towcester next week (Tuesday, 7 May) the Council’s Cabinet will discuss proposed use of £1.35 million of Exceptional Financial Support funding from Government to invest in additional SEND staffing and resource to help achieve the following:

  • Improving the timeliness and quality of providing EHCPs to families: more resources will support issuing plans in line with statutory timescales and reduce complaints and tribunals often leading to compensation or expensive provision being put in place.
  • Slowing the demand and need for new EHCPs by investing in a SEND specialist teaching service, deployed into schools to work with academic colleagues to offer advice and support about developing and improving SEND curriculum and practice.
  • Improving the commissioning and oversight of specialist provision: with additional capacity, the Council will be able to improve how the partnership commissions and quality assures specialist provision for children with SEND.

These latest funding proposals come during the improvement journey underway within the wider SEND partnership, with organisations working hard to make much-needed improvements and implement change that will make a difference for children, young people and their families.

It also comes on top of Council investment made in 2023/24 to bring in a team of educational psychologists to reduce the number of overdue EHCP assessments which is already making positive progress.

“We recognise that we are very early on in our improvement journey with much work still to do, and that the impact from the actions we have taken are not yet being felt by families.  However, there are signs of positive progress with the recent educational psychologist investment already improving the speed and accuracy of assessments which we are confident will continue.

“The current experience of our services is not up to the standard that families expect, nor that we would like to be providing and because of this, there is a lot of frustration. The demand our teams are facing is presenting a significant challenge which is resulting in us not meeting the required deadlines and having an impact on children’s needs not being identified early enough nor being met in an effective way. This isn’t good enough and something that absolutely must change and that’s why this investment in our SEND team is so important.

“Along with the work already underway, if approved, this funding will make an incredible difference to how the Council is able to respond and improve services to meet the increased demand and complexity coming through, resulting in a better experience and outcomes for our children, young people and their families.”
Cllr Fiona Baker, Cabinet Member for Children, Families and Education

West Northants Voices in Partnership (WNVP), the local parent representative group have shared their full support for the proposed investment and if approved, will work alongside the Council to support delivery and recruitment to ensure investment makes the right difference to children and young people’s lives.

"WNVP fully supports the proposed investment in SEND and Alternative Provision services by WNC. The significant increase in requests for Education, Health, and Care Plans (EHCPs) underscores the urgent need for additional resources to address the growing demand and ensure not only timely but also quality support for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

“As representatives of parent carers in the community, WNVP is dedicated to collaborating with the Council to support the delivery of these investments and ensure that they make a meaningful difference in the lives of children and young people. Together, we will collectively work towards building a more inclusive and supportive environment for all."
West Northants Voices in Partnership (WNVP)

WNC’s Cabinet meeting will be held in the Council Chamber at The Forum, Towcester from 6pm on Tuesday, 7 May and will be streamed live on the Council’s YouTube channel

View the cabinet paper and proposals on our website here

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