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***(UK) Gloucestershire: 'There is no clear reason' for the explosion in SPED students

Feb 17, 2019, Stroud News: Gloucestershire schools' growing special needs demand https://www.stroudnewsandjournal.co.uk/news/17438688.gloucestershire-schools-growing-special-needs-demand/ The number of requests for education, health and care plans (EHC) for children with special educational needs has more than doubled in the last three years, according to official county council data…. Gloucestershire County Council received 297 requests for a needs assessments in 2014/15, but 650 in 2017/18 – a 118 per cent increase, according to a Freedom of Information request by the Local Democracy Reporting Service. The FOI also found the total numbers of children on EHC plans has soared by more than 30 per cent over the last four years, up from 2,496 in 2014 to 3,290 in 2018. The county council said there is no clear reason why requests for EHC plans are rising. And five or less children in Gloucestershire with special educational needs waited too long for an EHC plan, the FOI revealed…. Over the last four academic years, starting in 2014/15, five or less took longer than 20 weeks to finalise – all within the 2016/17 time period. Kevin Day, chair of Gloucestershire’s special schools and headteacher at Belmont School in Cheltenham, said headteachers and the county council are working together to find a solution. Mr Day said: “Gloucestershire special school headteachers are aware of the rising number of EHC plans. Headteachers and school governors are working with the local authority who have recently audited the physical capacity within our schools to help plan for the future needs of children with SEND who will require specialist provision. … In Gloucestershire, the money used to support children with special educational needs is overspent by £4.7million. The Government announced a cash injection into the county’s High Needs Block of £2.7million over two years in December. Charlotte Jones, head of services for children with additional needs at the county council, said: “The rise in the number of children with special educational needs requiring EHC plans is a national issue. There is no clear reason for this but the general population increase and a greater understanding of medical conditions and adverse childhood experiences will be having an impact. “Schools in Gloucestershire like many other areas, have an overspend in high needs funding to support these children and this has been recognised with additional funds being allocated from the Department for Education.”…