Leeds City Council is working with principals at Specialist Inclusive Learning Centres (SILCs), their governing bodies and other key partners from across health, care and the voluntary sector to define a new post-16 specialist education offer for September 2018.
In order to allow sufficient time to prepare and implement this the council has committed to securing transitional funding for one year whilst all partners work together to put in place a sustainable plan for the future. This will enable SILCs to maintain their current offer for 2017/18 academic year and provide some continuity to their pupils while changes to the provision take place.
The ambition is to enable all young people in Leeds with special educational needs and disabilities to achieve to the best of their potential and to be as independent as possible in adult life.
Councillor Lisa Mulherin, executive member for children and families said:
“There are significant challenges to meeting the educational needs of young people with SEND but we, as a city, are committed to improving outcomes for them.
“I called a strategic meeting with the leadership teams of all the city’s SILC schools this week, to discuss concerns about the impact on their budgets brought about by national funding changes and to discuss how we best prepare our city’s young people with SEND for adulthood.
“We all agreed to prioritise this work and that we needed to give parents and young people time to prepare properly for any changes. We have agreed to work over the next year in partnership to develop a sustainable offer.”
Diane Reynard, Principal of East Specialist Inclusive Learning Centre said:
“We are happy to be working with the local authority to explore solutions that will give our young people appropriate learning opportunities that prepare them for their transition into adult life.
“The offer must ensure that the needs of all our post-16 learners can be met whatever their level of SEN. This will mean being creative around options so that a range of alternative programmes are made available. We should be ambitious in our aspirations whilst acknowledging that we have less funding available since the changes to the national system. However, by working with the local authority our aim will be to ensure that the new offer will enable our Post 16 young people to lead a fulfilling life and be valuable members of society.”
The reductions in post-16 SEN education funding in 2013 made local authorities the commissioners of local provision to meet the needs of their young people. Full time education was defined as a minimum of 540 hours for 16 to 18 year olds, and 450 hours for those over 18 and funding provided for this was reduced in line with those hours. At the same time to improve outcomes and progression routes Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans and post 16 study programmes were introduced to ensure all learning is destination-led and focusses on preparation for adulthood. This is clearly set out in the SEND code of practice 2015