FE special needs system ‘requires shake-up’

The ‘high needs’ system for further education is not working and requires a radical shake-up, council and college leaders have said in a new report.

The report, commissioned by the LGA, the Association of Colleges and Natspec, the membership body for specialist colleges, highlights that the system is overly complicated, resulting in challenges that have a detrimental impact on further education students with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

It found that: students’ education, health and care plans are not sufficiently up to date; statutory deadlines are being missed; arrangements for the transition from school to further education are delayed, and may not take place at all; administrative burdens on both councils and colleges are high; and there are too many disputes about placements. 

Part of the problem is that there is too little long-term planning of post-16 high needs provision. 

The research identified areas of good practice in the 10 local authority areas and 28 providers that were studied, but suggests that a more radical reworking of the whole system is required – including changes to the funding model so that councils can plan provision more effectively for young people within their local area.

Cllr Judith Blake, Chair of the LGA’s Children and Young People Board, said “an overhaul and streamlining of processes are needed to improve the system for local authorities and colleges in order to improve the experience and aspirations of students”.

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