County Council moves forward with flagship programme to support children with additional needs

An ambitious programme to improve outcomes for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) has entered an important new chapter, with the launch of new resources to more than 450 of the county’s headteachers and senior leaders. Hampshire County Council’s Transforming SEND programme is working proactively with local schools to ensure they have the right expertise, tools and training to best support children and young people with complex needs

Nov 21 2023

Two conferences held this month for school staff have provided an opportunity 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. 

Councillor 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. 

The Transforming SEND programme seeks to respond to this growing demand while continuing to meet children’s needs. It focuses on: 
  • Early identification of needs and early intervention to prevent children’s needs from escalating, enabling more children with special educational needs to flourish in mainstream schools. A range of new services and pilots will support Hampshire schools to achieve this and include a dedicated SEN support line for SEN Coordinators in schools, new training and resources for school staff, and improved access to various therapies and outreach services such as Occupational Therapy and Speech and Language Therapy.  
  • Achieving better outcomes for children and young people with an EHCP, by recognising and building on their strengths and talents. Ensuring that EHCPs are focused on working towards increased independence is key to the programme. Initiatives such as the County Council’s Employability and Independence Hubs have a vital role to play in improving outcomes for young people with SEND. These hubs bring together workplace and non-workplace learning to support young people with SEND to gain independence and skills that maximise progression into sustained employment. 
The programme expands on the County Council’s already significant work focusing on children and young people with additional needs and has been bolstered by an extra £1 million from the Department for Education’s ‘Delivering Better Value’ programme this financial year. The programme seeks to improve the outcomes for children and young people with SEND while working towards sustainable services and support. 

Jim Cascarini, Headteacher of Braishfield Primary School, commented: “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.”