I need to draw to your attention to recent developments concerning the UK government’s efforts to address the financial strain on councils and support for children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND).


As reported by The Observer, the Department for Education (DfE) entered into a £19.5 million contract with consultancy firm Newton Europe in June 2022, initiating the Delivering Better Value in SEND (DBV) programme. One of the primary objectives outlined in this contract is to reduce the number of new Education, Health, and Care plans (EHCPs) by 20%.


The increasing demand for EHCPs in recent years, coupled with lack of resources, has strained council budgets. While the government maintains that this reduction aims to “improve” the system rather than specifically target EHCPs, concerns have been raised.


Junior education minister Ms Claire Coutinho, who now serves as the energy secretary, initially denied the existence of targets but later clarified that the reforms intend to enhance the system rather than solely reduce EHCPs.


In addition to EHCPs, the DBV programme also seeks a 20% reduction in placements in independent schools and a 2% reduction in placements in special schools. These reductions aim to promote increased inclusion in mainstream schools.


The Department for Education emphasises that these targets are not legally binding on Newton Europe and were not communicated to councils/LA’s. They argue that the DBV programme aims to help local authorities provide more effective SEND services by addressing children’s needs earlier.


However, critics raise valid concerns that these measures may undermine inclusion and create further challenges for children with special needs. The debate continues, with calls for more transparency and a clear commitment to providing adequate support children and young persons while addressing budgetary concerns.


We need to encourage open and constructive dialogue to ensure the best possible outcomes for children and young persons with SEND. In the forthcoming months we will be running an online seminar to address the issue of “ceasing to maintain an EHCp” to address the test that needs to be satisfied in such cases and what possible responses are available to children and young persons.


More about Newton Europe can be found here:  https://connect.newtoneurope.com/childrens-services?_ga=2.59320877.1629600287.1694457363-349023037.1694457363




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