Agenda item

Updated SEND Strategy for County Durham 2022-2024

Report of the Corporate Director of Children and Young People’s Services, Durham County Council.


The Board received a report and presentation from the Corporate Director of Children and Young People on the updated SEND Strategy for County Durham, 2022-2024, presented by the Head of Early Help, Inclusion and Vulnerable Children, Martyn Stenton (for copy see file of minutes).


The Head of Early Help, Inclusion and Vulnerable Children explained the SEND Strategy was a two year strategy and noted that one in six children required some SEN additional support.  He explained as regards the new strategy noted it was aligned to the wider Children, Young People and Families strategy, and the ‘Starting Well’ priority of the Health and Wellbeing Board’s Joint Health and Wellbeing Strategy.  He added the strategy’s vision for those with SEND was the same as for all children and young people in County Durham: that they are safe and part of their community, have the best start in life, have good physical and mental health, and gain the education, skills, and experiences to prepare them for adulthood.  He explained that the strategy’s vision, aims and indicators were consistently supported by all stakeholders and that the new strategy had been subject to extensive stakeholder engagement, including public consultation.  He noted the strategy had gone to Cabinet in April and also the County Durham Partnership Executive.


Councillor T Henderson thanked the Head of Early Help, Inclusion and Vulnerable Children and his staff regarding the work relating to the ongoing Ofsted inspection.  He asked as regards how the Health and Wellbeing Board could be assured that there were sufficient resources available to meet increasing demand and provide the best possible outcomes for young people with SEND.  The Head of Early Help, Inclusion and Vulnerable Children noted that Cabinet and Council looked at the High Needs Block and looked at the associated pressures.  He noted the challenges for the Health and Wellbeing Board and Partners, and the high demands associated with Children and Young People with SEND, on top of the issues related to education disruption due to COVID-19 and the subsequent recovery.  He reiterated the challenge relating to resources and demand, adding the High Needs Block would not meet demand, however, the five year plan would look to manage demands.


Dr J Smith asked as regards figures for County Durham in comparison to England, noting 87 percent of children having their needs met within mainstream schooling, with figures of around 9.5 percent in England attending a Special School.  He also asked as regards the number of children with an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP) at primary decreasing when moving to secondary school. 


The Head of Early Help, Inclusion and Vulnerable Children noted that the were more EHCPs at primary noting the challenges at secondary school, most being larger institutions.  He noted that 11 year olds with specific needs would attend special schools for secondary education.  He noted that the level of one in six children having SEND in County Durham was in line with national levels of those with an EHCP being around 3.2 percent.  He added that factors that impacted in the North East included increased prevalence of autism and levels of deprivation.  The Head of Early Help, Inclusion and Vulnerable Children noted he was optimistic as regards the Government’s Green Paper and added it was important to have children and young people being part of their communities, better supported in their local school with their friends, noting that special schools were not always the best solution.


Dr L Murthy asked as regards the next steps, templates and the process of review.  The Head of Early Help, Inclusion and Vulnerable Children noted that easy read versions were being worked on and there would be work with the Durham Association of Primary Schools, Secondary Schools and Special Schools.  He added that key actions and mechanisms to support schools would be looked at and that the Leadership Group met monthly.  He noted that details as regards a new assessment framework were yet to come forward.




That the SEND Strategy 2022-24 be adopted.


M Stenton left the meeting at 11.05am


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