Local authorities are to be given £29 million in funding to help change the way in which children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) are given support, the Department for Education announced today.
The money is aimed at helping councils move to the new system of education and healthcare plans introduced in 2014, which has families "at the heart of the process” and care plans “tailored to individuals”, according to Robert Goodwill (pictured), minister for children and families.
While there has been “encouraging progress” made by councils “there is still work to be done to fully embed this improved system across education, health and care sectors”, he said.
Mr Goodwill added: “I am pleased to announce this additional investment for councils and other groups who have been instrumental in getting us to this positive stage. Their hard work is raising the aspirations of these young people and giving them access to the same opportunities as their peers, helping them fulfill their full potential as adults”.
The funding is part of a package of more than £40 million for SEND, but does not include any new money to support children in schools.
A new £9.7 million fund has been set up to create work placements for young people with SEND, which the DfE claims will “provide them with the skills and confidence they need to move into paid work”.
The funding could also be used to train job coaches to help get those with learning difficulties into employment.
In addition, parent carer forums are to be given £4.6 million. These forums enable parents to have a "voice" in the SEND process, according to the DfE.
Mr Goodwill also stated that extra funding will be available to build capacity in the system and support the ongoing delivery of the SEND reforms over the next two years.
Invitations to bid for these contracts, which will include providing families with access to information, advice and support, continuing support for the SEND workforce, and expert support to local areas, will be published online shortly, according to the DfE.
Welcoming the announcement, Annamarie Hassall, director of practice and programmes at the National Children’s Bureau, said: “The funding announced today will help more children with disabilities and special educational needs get the support they need to live normal lives in their home communities”.
The investment in internships will help provide “young people with valuable work experience as they make the transition to adulthood” she added.