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(UK) Norfolk failing SPED plans; referrals more than double in six years

Jan 27, 2023, Eastern Daily Press: Norfolk children's education, health and care plans fears
Only 53pc of youngsters had education, health and care plans (EHCP) put in place within the 20-week government target in 2022 - below the national average and a drop on the 54pc figure the previous year.

The plans are a formal acknowledgment of a child's special educational needs and disabilities, which lay out the support they need.

But officers at Norfolk County Council say a shortage of educational psychologists, and an increase in referrals for plans has made it a struggle to hit targets.
In 2016 there were 911 referrals, but that had increased to 2016 last year.

However, council officers say measures are in place to speed up the process, while a new six-year plan has been devised to reduce what can be an extremely stressful wait for parents and get important support for children sooner….

Labour county councillor Maxine Webb also questioned why so many parents were resorting to taking the council to tribunals over decisions around their children, with County Hall spending almost £500,000 a year to defend decisions.

Officers said, in many cases, the authority had acknowledged the child's needs, but did not have the special needs school spaces available.

They said the council sought to avoid tribunals and many issues ended up being resolved through mediation between the council and parents before reaching the tribunal stage.

John Fisher, Norfolk County Council's cabinet member for adult social care, said the council was spending £120m on new special schools, creating more places for children with special needs, which would reduce the number of tribunals once they were all open.


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