Devon County Councillor Lois Samuel (Okehampton Rural) met with Central Devon MP and Secretary of State for Work and Pensions on Friday to discuss provision for children with Special Educational Needs (SEN) within the authority.
Among the issues they discussed was the need for more funding to keep up with demand, with Cllr Samuel welcoming the government’s recent announcement of an additional £440 million nationally for high needs funding for the 2024-25 academic year. This will bring total funding to £10.5 billion and represents an increase of more than 60% since 2019-20.
Cllr Samuel was recently appointed to a newly created cabinet post at County Hall with responsibility for Children's Special Educational Needs and Disabilities and Inclusion Services. She will help to shape the strategic direction and discharge of services that support children with special educational needs.
Since 2016 there have been consistent upward trends of more children being identified as having Special Educational Needs (SEN) and local authorities issuing more Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans for pupils who need more help than is available through SEN support. Across the country, EHC plans have increased by 64% since 2016 and nearly 1.2 million pupils are now recognised as needing SEN support.
Cllr Samuel said:
“It was very useful to discuss a range of issues relating to local education provision with Mel, particularly the need for proper support for children who have been identified as having special educational needs.”
Mr Stride said:
“No child should be left behind and I am determined to ensure every pupil and every school in our constituency gets the support they need. I will be pushing hard to ensure that Devon sees its fair share of this significant funding boost.”