New strategy to support children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities ‘to be the best they can be’
Stoke-on-Trent City Council is set to approve the ‘To be the best I can be’ inclusion strategy for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) 2021-2024 at a cabinet meeting today (Tuesday, August 10).
Co-produced by the city council with Stoke-on-Trent Clinical Commissioning Group the strategy sets out the local authority’s vision, priorities and outcomes for children and young people with SEND, based on what they and their families have expressed is important to them.
Since 2018 there has been a 6.4 per cent increase in children and young people with SEND in the city. A total of 17.4 per cent of children and young people in Stoke-on-Trent have SEND compared to the national average of 15.4 per cent.
By adopting a ‘people first’ ethos, the strategy aims to ensure the services the council offers and supports are inclusive and will provide children with additional needs the same opportunities as their peers, enabling them to live their lives to the fullest and be the best that they can be. The strategy is aimed at workforces, partnerships and organisations that support and work with any child, or young person up to the age of 25 who has additional needs and sets out two types of priorities:
- Priorities supporting children and young people’s outcomes
- Priorities for development and improvement
Moving forward the council will take a more preventative approach, enabling children with additional needs access to the right support at the right time, delivered by the right people, in order to encourage inclusion in education and health and wellbeing services. It is hoped this approach will encourage a smoother pathway into adulthood and enable them to build on life skills and support their aspirations.
Councillor Janine Bridges, cabinet member for the economy and education, said: “We aim to provide the best opportunities for every child in our city, especially those with SEND, and this strategy will further help us do that. We want to change perspectives and promote shared values for inclusion and encourage educators and service providers to think differently about how disabilities or behavioural complexities are viewed.
“When a child or young person is experiencing additional challenges it is imperative that a bespoke educational provision and care and support activities are planned for them through a graduated offer. A support need should not prevent a child or young person from being the very best they can be and should enable them to attend local schools where they feel safe, where they feel welcomed when using community facilities, and have social networks and friends that are close.
“Everyone has a responsibility across services to ensure that children and young people get the support they need when they need it. We want our children and young people to be able to navigate around the city, seek and access support, have suitable housing and employment and strive to be as independent as possible.”
Dr Waheed Abbasi, Clinical Director for Mental Health with Stoke-on-Trent CCG said: “We can’t afford to let our young people down by not giving the best opportunities to achieve their maximum potential.
“People with SEND often have tremendous ability but need some extra help to get where they want to be, and that takes teamwork involving the young people and the organisations that support them. We are determined to play our part.”
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