Department for Education
More support for children with special educational needs
Over a thousand new special school places confirmed, as additional seven special free schools to be built
Over a thousand more children and young people with SEND are set to benefit from access to high-quality specialised learning, with seven new special free schools in Cambridgeshire, Kent, Merton and Norfolk selected to be built alongside the existing 83 already committed to opening, located across England from Devon to Darlington.
Once complete, this investment will more than double the number of special free school places available across the country – from around 8,500 to 19,000 – ensuring all children receive a quality education, tailored to their needs.
Today, local authorities across the country have been selected to deliver a ground-breaking new programme to test and refine the reforms to services for young people and families.
Backed by £70 million, the local authorities will help inform the development of new national standards to improve the consistency of provision across the country.
Each area will also bring together education and health services, as well as parents and families to develop an inclusion plan that sets out how they will deliver local services in a co-ordinated way – for example making sure a child with special educational needs who is behind in reading is quickly assessed and given the right support. This addresses feedback from families that the current system is often fragmented with agencies not working together.
This follows recent confirmation that high needs funding is increasing by a further £440 million for 24/25, bringing total funding to £10.5 billion – an increase of over 60% since 2019-20.
Minister for Children, Families and Wellbeing, Claire Coutinho said:
Making sure children with special educational needs and disabilities get a superb education is a priority.
Earlier this year our Improvement Plan set out systemic reforms to make sure every child and young person gets consistently high-quality support, no matter where in the country they live.
Today we’re making sure that those reforms are informed by the experiences of real families, up and down the country, and creating the thousands of new places at specialist schools and in staff training courses that are needed to make sure our plan is a success.
The government is also confirming today an expansion in training for early years staff, adding an extra 2,000 training places for early years special educational needs co-ordinators on top of the 5,000 already announced.
Measures confirmed in the Improvement Plan included:
- A new leadership level National Professional Qualification for Special Educational Needs Co-ordinators (NPQ for SENCOs), ensuring SENCOs have the training they need to provide the right support to children.
- A new approach to AP will focus on preparing children to return to mainstream or prepare for adulthood. AP will act as an intervention within mainstream education, as well as high-quality standalone provision, in an approach that meets children’s needs earlier and helps prevent escalation.
- An extension until March 2025 to the AP Specialist Taskforces, which work directly with young people in AP to offer intensive support from teams made up of experts, including mental health professionals, family workers, and speech and language therapists, backed by an additional £7 million investment.
- A doubling of the number of supported internship places by 2025, from around 2,500 to around 5,000, backed with £18 million of funding to help young people make the transition into adulthood.
- £30 million to go towards developing innovative approaches for short breaks for children, young people and their families, providing crucial respite for families of children with complex needs - the programme funds local areas to test new services including play, sports, arts and independent living activities, allowing parents time to themselves, while their child enjoys learning new skills. 13 local authorities are taking part in the second year of the programme.
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