Agenda item

Special Educational Needs and Inclusion Funding


*                 Report of the Chief Executive



Cllr Laura Mayes, Deputy Leader and Cabinet member for Children’s Services, Education and Skills presented the report which provided information about current risks in Special Educational Needs and Disability & Inclusion (SEND&I) Service and a request for additional investment in Special Educational Needs and Inclusion to mitigate against the risks.


The Deputy Leader commented on the current and future demand pressure in services relating to SEND&I both nationally and locally. There was a need to ensure that the Council is able to undertake statutory obligations in a way which is both legally compliant and meets the needs of Wiltshire families. If this is not undertaken efficiently and effectively, it can lead to families reporting not having received a supportive service from the council. It can also result in reputational damage through the publication of LA level data in relation to statutory performance and through the OFSTED/CQC inspection framework.


The Deputy Leader highlighted one key issue that needed to be addressed being the capacity within SEND&I. Of significance too is the support needed within the early years sector to support SENCOs within settings to identify and support pre-school aged learners with SEND, leading to effective transitions to school. Efficient place planning is also required to ensure that there is an adequate supply of school places for learners with SEND, including within resource base and enhanced learning support provision.


Cabinet members expressed support for the proposals and noted the previous decisions of Cabinet taking the necessary financial steps via the latent demand reserve to support proposals of this nature.


Cllr Jon Hubbard, Chair of Children’s Select Committee confirmed that he and the Vice-Chair of Children’s Select Committee had received a briefing on 19 July 2021.  Cllr Hubbard reported that there was increasing pressure to meet the challenges and highlighted the impact on school staff, young people, their families and the extended community. The Deputy Leader explained that the additional funding was essential, and the overall strategy is to ensure as many children as possible are in mainstream education.


Cllr Ian Thorn expressed his support for the proposals highlighting that any additional funding was critical. In response to questions about (i) clarification about the use of the Latent Reserve Fund and whether the issue had arisen prior to the pandemic; (ii) Ofsted reports and families seeking redress, and how the Council arrived at this stage.  The Leader and Deputy Leader explained that demand has been building through the system over time, in particular through the early years. The situation is monitored on a regular basis and action taken as necessary. It was noted that the pandemic did have a part to play in a delay of the proposals, and now was the time to address the issues raised in the report.  The Cabinet noted that Wiltshire Councils SEND & I department was one of the best performing departments in the country.


Cllr Paul Sample highlighted a concern about affordable property for rent or purchase for SEND teachers and potential recruitment difficulties in Wiltshire. He commented on key worker schemes to help employees find homes and the latest government initiative to provide first homes with up to a 30% discount. The Leader referred to the Stone Circle housing company and its role in supporting those unable to access the housing ladder. The Council were aware of the 30% discount scheme and were investigating it further. The Deputy Leader confirmed that SEND Lead Worker posts were not difficult to recruit to as Wiltshire was a good authority with a good reputation.




That Cabinet approve an additional £0.861M draw down from the latent
demand reserve to fund the required part year investment in 21-22, rising to a total £1.742M in 2022-23 to increase capacity within SEND and Inclusion Services which can be included in the Medium Term Financial Strategy planning.


Reasons for Decision:

There are two benefits from the proposed investment.

We need to ensure fit for purpose, efficient, quality sustainable, future proof and secure service across SEND&I to deliver the SEND and Inclusion Strategy, to provide an effective service for families and to achieve a positive outcome at the next Ofsted and CQC Local Area inspection. In addition, there is a significant amount of work to be carried out in the High Needs block recovery plan to aid demand management and reduce the burden on the local authority to cashflow the DSG deficit reserve. These can only be achieved by increasing the number of workers within the statutory SEND team and associated posts across the SEND&I service to ensure caseloads are at a sustainable level and preventative services increase so we can manage the increase in service demand seen since the implementation of the children and families act (part 3) in 2014. A robust and effective place planning mechanism for SEND places, both in special schools and in resource base and enhanced learning provision is required to ensure that there are sufficient places for learners with SEND and that future planning is undertaken to inform this.

This proposal essentially ensures the Local Authority have the requisite capacity within key statutory and preventative services to deliver on new requests for involvement and to ensure that families who are already known to us receive a service which is timely and compliant.


Supporting documents: