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Special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND)

Information for organisations who are providing, or are planning to provide services for children and young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities in Leicester.

Where are we now?

We have a duty to ensure the participation of children and young people with SEND and their parents in decisions about their lives, to support these children and young people to achieve and to prepare them for adulthood. Leicester’s strategy for supporting children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) 2017-22 provides a vision for Leicester. The accompanying SEND self-assessment provides a more detailed breakdown of services provided, and an evaluation of provision and next steps. The support available is shared through our SEND local offer.

Some of the support services on offer are outsourced to providers, usually through individual arrangements and placements. Personal budgets are also available to children and young people with SEND to support greater independence and choice in securing services that best meet their needs.

The SEND self-assessment identified around 8,500 children and young people (0-25 years) in Leicester with SEND and 2,200 with an Education, Health Care Plan (EHCP). Since the self-assessment, the number has risen to 2,646 (Oct 2019).

Educational placements are secured for children and young people with SEND through mainstream schools and through special school and alternative provision. These places are sought from a variety of educational providers, local authority-maintained schools, academies and free schools and from independent providers. Occasionally these placements are made a long way from home and can offer residential provision where daily travel isn’t possible.

To support families with independent advice and guidance about their SEND, including health and social care needs, we contract with a SEND information, advice and guidance service. This contract has recently been tendered with a new service provider in place from 1st October 2019. Two providers of information, advice and guidance relating to the take up and management of personal budgets are also contracted by the authority.

Some families of children with a disability require additional help and support at busy times of the day, particularly before and after school. Support is sometimes provided to these families through our domiciliary support arrangements.

Short break provision is available through childcare schemes in the city and a grant is made available annually to support with the additional cost sometimes associated with making reasonable adjustments to ensure access for children and young people with SEND.

Where are we going?

The number of children and young people SEND is increasing, both nationally and locally – it is currently around 2,600 in Leicester . So we know there will be a greater need for local special school provision, beyond the numbers currently on offer.

Our current priorities

Our key priority is to increase the number of special school placements available to families within Leicester through expansion of the council-maintained schools buildings, reducing the reliance on high cost, out of county placements and better meeting the wishes of families to have their children educated close to home. We will do this by:

  • reviewing the offer for post 16 education for young people with SEND to ensure that it best meets the future needs of the young people accessing it, offering greater support to gain independence;
  • reviewing the offer of a personal budget to families to support them in securing the care and support that best meets their individual needs, ensuring all families know of this offer;
  • reviewing the way in which we purchase domiciliary support and from the market, looking at whether alternative contract arrangements are required; and
  • developing our joint working and joint commissioning with health and across our neighbouring local authorities, Leicestershire and Rutland.

What does this mean for providers?

This means:

  • there will continue to be a need for special education provision from the private sector, but this is likely to decrease as the council-maintained provision increases;
  • there is a need for providers to consider how to market their services to children, young people and families directly as the take up of personal budgets is expected to increase;
  • there may be opportunities for domiciliary support providers through a review of contracting arrangements; and
  • there may be opportunities for post-16 education providers to offer alternative courses, particularly aimed at supporting independence.

Other useful information for providers

Go to SEND local offer information -

Laura Priestnall, Business Change Commissioning Manager