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(UK) Hertfordshire: $10M more for SPED not enough; 'not enough places, not enough schools'

Dec 10, 2021, Hemel Today: Hemel Hempstead mum calls for more support for children with special educational needs

Near London A mum from Hemel Hempstead is calling on the Government to do more to support local authorities when it comes to finding places for children with special needs. Jennifer Gover, of Nash Mills, has been fighting to find a place at a specialist school for her four-year-old daughter Ava Willats, who is non verbal and autistic…. Hertfordshire County Council has increased investment into SEND funding in mainstream schools across the country from £9.5m [$13M] to £17.5m [$23M] this year. The Department for Education says it is supporting councils by making £2.6 billion [$3.5B] available over the next three years to deliver new places and improve existing provision for pupils with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities…. "This is not an attack on the local authority, Hertfordshire County Council are doing what they can, but there are not enough places, not enough schools and not enough support. "The government should be doing more to support the local authorities, they should provide more funding for their education. "The council can not help, there are no spaces at special education schools."… Jen said: "Now, after almost two and a half years of fighting, Ava has a place at Woodfield School for Special Needs in Hemel, but there is a four-year waiting list. "Which means she won't start there until she is eight, people do move around for whatever reason, so it might not be four years, but that's what we are looking at. "It is not the school or council's fault - there are just no places and more needs to be done. "The local authorities have no choice but to send her to mainstream - where Ava would be uncomfortable, unhappy and it would be unfair to other children and the teacher - as there are just no places. There are not enough special schools…. "There are just not enough places for SEN children. More and more children are being diagnosed at an earlier stage, and we are becoming more aware, but with that we also need to ensure that they have access to education. "I have heard that the council has said in five years they will have more spaces in special education needs settings, but we need something now…. A spokesperson for Hertfordshire County Council said: “While we cannot comment on individual cases, we are fully committed to making sure that all children with SEND and EHCPs in Hertfordshire receive the support they need and deserve, and work in partnership with young people, parents and schools to achieve that end…. “The demand for SEND support continues to increase, raising challenges both nationally and here in Hertfordshire. In common with many local authorities, we are experiencing a high demand for specialist provision, with a 37% increase in pupils with Education and Health Care Plans (EHCPs) over the last three years, as well as the additional challenges due to COVID-19…. "Our Special School Place Planning Strategy 2020-23 sets out our commitment and investment to create over 300 new permanent special school places, and the development of a countywide pattern of specialist resource provision in mainstream schools. "We will continue to work hard with families to make sure that their children’s needs are met and that they are happy with the support received.” "We are supporting them to meet this duty by making £2.6 billion [$3.5B] available over the next three years to deliver new places and improve existing provision for pupils with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities, or who require alternative provision.”


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