A PROGRAMME to support school children with special educational needs has received £1m from the Government to ‘improve outcomes for children’.

Hampshire County Council’s Transforming SEND programme works with schools to ensure they have the expertise, tools and training to best support children and young people with complex needs.

The programme has been bolstered by an extra £1m from the Department for Education’s ‘Delivering Better Value’ scheme, which aims to support local authorities to 'improve the outcomes for children and young people with SEND while working towards sustainable services and support’. 

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Andover Advertiser: Councillor Steve Forster, Cabinet Member for Education (centre) with Hampshire County Council's SEN

Two conferences were held in November for school staff to find out more about the programme, which responds to continuing growth in the number of children in Hampshire with Education, Health, and Care Plans (EHCPs).

These plans specify the additional support that children require to meet their identified special educational needs.

The Transforming SEND programme focuses on identifying special educational needs early and providing intervention to help more children and young people stay in mainstream schools.

The new services the county council is looking to implement include a dedicated support line for SEN coordinators in schools, training and resources for school staff and improved access to various therapies and outreach services including occupational therapy and speech and language therapy.

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Cllr Steve Forster, the county council’s cabinet member for education, said: “We are absolutely committed to supporting children and young people with additional needs to thrive and succeed in all aspects of school life, and future adulthood.

“We know how important this is to them and to their parents and carers, who, of course, want their children to receive the right support and to get the very best out of their education.

“Like all local authorities up and down the country, we have seen an exponential rise in the number of children with EHCPs over the past decade, putting a greater strain on the system than ever before.

“This new programme will complement the already significant work taking place across Hampshire to better support children and young people with additional needs.

“It will incorporate a mix of extra resources for school staff and a focus on earlier intervention, greater inclusion in our mainstream settings and supporting children to achieve their agreed independence goals.

“Alongside our continued investment in new specialist school places across the county, this programme will provide a very firm foundation for children with additional needs to flourish as we go forward.”  

In 2014, the Government introduced significant reforms to the legislation relating to children with SEND. Since then, the number of EHCPs nationally has been increasing at a rate of over 10 per cent per year. The county council alone is now maintaining over 200 per cent more EHCPs than it was in 2014.

Jim Cascarini, headteacher of Braishfield Primary School, Romsey, said: “It’s important to me that we move away from a one-size-fits-all approach to a more therapeutic approach, and ensure that every child at Braishfield has equity in accessing a top-quality education.

“The Transforming SEND programme has given us quality resources to access and use with children, parents and carers, and staff. The impact in the classroom is the litmus test for me. If barriers are reduced, accessibility increased and outcomes improved, it is worth it.”