County council to get more than £500,000 for special needs support

Louth to host it's first Triathlon event.
Louth to host it's first Triathlon event.

More than half a million pounds will be given to West Sussex County Council to help support young people with special needs.

The Department for Education said the money was part of “the biggest transformation of special educational needs and disabilities support in over 30 years”.

West Sussex will receive £549,846 of the £6.8million on offer to councils in the south east, the fourth highest behind Kent, Hampshire and Surrey.

The grant follows hot on the heels of the £890,000 allocated to West Sussex as part of the Governent’s £70million Special Educational Needs Reform Grant.

One of the tasks for which the money will be used is to replace the county’s 3,500 statements of special educational needs and learning disability assessments with the new birth-to-25 education, health and care plans.

The idea behind the new plans is to make it easier for families and young people to find out what support is available to them and to make accessing that support easier.

As such, councils are required to publish a ‘Local Offer’, detailing what support is available in the area.

The new system will also give more power to young people and their families when it comes to choosing which schools and further education colleges they wish to attend, controlling their support budget and giving children and young people the right to appeal if they are unhappy with their support.

A county council spokesman said: “Spending plans are in place for this first amount of funding and include developments related to new computer systems to track children with education, health and care plans and to provide an accessible web-based system called the Local Offer which will give parents and young people information and access to advice on services available to support children and families.

“There will also be additional staff, including educational psychologists and planning co-ordinators in order to convert the 3,500 statements of special educational needs into Education Health and Care Plans over a three-year period.

“The spending plan for the additional £550k funding has yet to be agreed but the money will be targeted on implementing new systems for vulnerable children and families.”