(UK) Surrey Council: SPED overspend; numbers continue to increase

May 11, 2021, Surrey Live: Demand for special educational needs assessments in Surrey soars - but most parents' requests are refused

(Near London) Demand is soaring for help for children and young people who have special educational needs or a disability (SEND), but most parents' requests for assessment are turned down. Requests for SEN assessments from Surrey parents have rocketed 171 per cent in the last five years, from 152 in 2015 to 412 in 2020. But 70 per cent of those they asked for in the last calendar year were refused, a Freedom of Information (FoI) request has revealed. PROMOTED STORIES This compares with between 46-55 per cent of parent requests refused in the five previous years…. As part of its transformation of SEND services, the council last year introduced a new Learners’ Single Point of Access (L-SPA) to advise parents and professionals on how to access a range of support without the need for a statutory assessment…. Parents can ask the authority for assessment if they want their child to get an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP), which sets out a plan of care for children and young people who have additional needs and require extra support in school. Taking all requests for this into consideration - be they from parents, schools, education psychologists or elsewhere - 1,750 were made last year - a 26% increase on all requests made in 2015. Back then, 27% were refused, which fell to almost one in five refused last year, although not all have been processed yet. There remains a lot of frustration among parents with almost half of these EHCPs not issued on time in the last academic year. About a third of plans were overdue for their annual review…. Council data suggests an improving picture for 2020/21 with 183 complaints, though these are as yet unvalidated…. The number of EHCPs continue to grow year-on-year so it will remain a challenge for the council to produce quality plans in good time…. At the same time the county council will need to address an historic and ongoing multimillion pound overspend in the area of SEND…. An increasing rate of absence and exclusions of pupils in Surrey's mainstream schools who have SEND was one of five areas of significant weakness in 2016 - and was still flagged as a weakness