Particular wants training plans for Leeds pupils greater than double in simply seven years
The allegations were made during a meeting of the Leeds City Council Children and Family Committee to discuss a report on the City Council’s strategy for including children with special educational needs – known as SEND students – in mainstream schools.
A report by Leeds City Council officials claimed the number of children in the city with Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) more than doubled between 2014 and 2021.
An EHCP is a legal document created by a school, local authority, and a child’s family that identifies additional needs a student has and how they should be addressed by the school.
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Special education plans for Leeds students have more than doubled in just seven years
Helen Bellamy, a school staff representative on the panel, said, “Identifying needs early is really important, but there is a real conflict between what Ofsted wants and what schools can do for their difficult children.
“From talking to some really experienced SENCos over the past 18 months, I know that school principals are under so much pressure to bring as many children as possible to the expected level.
“The children they know have no chance of reaching the expected level – although they can make good progress – are pushed through the various levels towards an education, health and care plan by some school principals – they are not in their numbers counted in. Some of them try to get them into other settings.
“I don’t want to criticize these principals for being under so much pressure, but SENCos say that with the right time and effort, these kids can catch up and with the right emotional and educational support, the void can be filled.
SENCo refers to a special educational needs coordinator – these are teachers who specialize in making changes to the school curriculum to ensure that students with special educational needs are included.
She added, “The number of days SENCos were given to actually work as SENCo has been reduced. It’s a huge problem, and it’s a growing problem for these individual children. “
A report by council officials on the agency’s SEND strategy said the demand for EHCPs has increased in recent years from 2,041 in 2014 to 5,006 at the time of writing.
“This surge is expected to continue and is likely to be further affected by the pandemic,” he added. “This has resulted in considerable capacity pressure in the service teams responsible for EHCPs for learning integration and their ability to create and review EHCPs in accordance with legal requirements.”
It claimed the council will review its systems for managing EHCPs and reorganize its teams to better meet demand.
A council official told the meeting: “In relation to these competing agendas, this is something that is being emphasized. Ofsted is keen to identify the overall cohort of the school, the level of progress young people are making towards their needs, and overall achievement levels.
“For some schools it’s a competing agenda, and some children end up with an educational health and care plan, and parents prefer that they go to special schools rather than mainstream.”
She added that many mainstream schools were making good progress in enrolling students in SEND.