Pressing seek for high-need training funding in Hertfordshire as Stevenage runs out in three months
Education chiefs in Hertfordshire are urgently reviewing a locally administered stream of special needs funding after an area of the county ran out of funds in less than three months.
The Delivering Special Provision Locally (DSPL) funding – amounting to around £ 1.5m per year – will be split across nine areas of the county. And each area can then use its share of the financing to tailor the offer to local needs.
This is just one of the ways Hertfordshire has funding for children with special educational needs.
Read more: Current education news
And it is designed to support children and young people with emerging high needs or with needs that are outside the Education and Health Plan (ECHP).
But those funds, allocated to the Stevenage, Hertfordshire area – known as DSPL 2 – for the full year 2021/2 expired within three months.
And now, Child Services Director Jo Fisher is due to be leading “an urgent job” to investigate what happened – and whether there are similar problems with DSPL funding in other areas of the county.
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The ongoing review was made public on Friday (October 1st) when the subject was raised by Labor Cllr Sharon Taylor, who is also the Chair of the Stevenage Borough Council.
Cllr Taylor acknowledged that this was a very specific stream of funding for special educational needs.
But she said that this caused “great hardship” for the parents who were supported by it.
She said that school principals and kindergarten teachers had been informed in writing that the “money had been used up” – and that there was basically nothing left.
And for those affected it is very difficult to see how they would get through the year without the supplementary pension.
Meanwhile, Liberal Democrat Cllr Sally Symington also pointed to significant pressure – “Families cannot get EHCPs and are home-schooled because they do not have access to the system”.
At the meeting, Assistant Finance Director Steven Pilsworth admitted that there is undoubtedly a tremendous amount of pressure to deploy SEND and SEND.
And he referred to the changes to the Long-Term Care Act in 2014, which had expanded entitlement in terms of long-term care but did not involve state funding.
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Mr Pilsworth said the DSPL funding recognized that there were a number of children who did not have EHCP but needed support.
He said £ 1.5 million had been allocated to the allocation of these funds through a number of bodies.
He said it had become clear a little over a week ago that one of the panels had “already exhausted” funds in this area.
Cllr Taylor said she hoped funds could be found to make up for the deficit in the Stevenage area – which would otherwise be difficult for schools and kindergartens to access that support.
She asked if it was possible to give them some reassurance – or provide additional funding while the review was ongoing – so that the services would not have to be shut down.
The meeting of the Resource and Performance Cabinet Committee of the District Council took place on Friday (October 1). It can be viewed here.
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