Teachers and parents need to support plans to educate more children with special educational needs in Warwickshire’s mainstream schools according to the county council’s portfolio holder for education and learning.
Cllr Colin Hayfield (Con, Coleshill South and Arley) was commenting during a debate on changes to the SEND provision across the county with initial figures showing an overspend of £80m being predicted by 2025.
A presentation to councillors at Monday's children and young people overview and scrutiny committee meeting outlined a series of measures which had been launched at a recent Warwickshire headteachers conference.
It concluded: “The more we can do to channel resources into early identification and intervention in our mainstream schools, the better the outcomes we can achieve for our children and young people, and the more financially sustainable we will be.”
Cllr Hayfield explained there were a number of challenges ahead.
He said: “It’s not just a matter of resources. Resources are scarce and have to be used as effectively as they can and as, has been highlighted, there is an increase in children and in the complexity of their cases.
“But one of the things that came out of the headteachers conference was whether the increasing amount of money that we are spending on some children was actually reflected in substantially better outcomes for them or not.
“There is this challenge in convincing headteachers and indeed parents that mainstream schools can cope with children with increasingly complex SEND needs.”
Cllr Howard Roberts (Con, Dunsmore and Leam Valley) also raised questions about the programme being put in place.
He said: “In the report it says that we’re promoting inclusion in mainstream settings and giving schools the skills and resources to meet the needs of the learners. How much training are we going to give the rank and file teacher within the schools and how enthusiastic are the mainstream schools in having students with difficult needs coming into their classrooms?”
Russ Caw, SEND programme manager with the council, said there was a long-term strategy in place.
He said: “There will be training though it won’t be overnight in terms of getting resources into schools and getting the training and upskilling into schools.
“One of the projects is to look at what type of training. There are different types of needs in each school and the training requirements may differ but I do think we need a better joined up approach.
“It isn’t just about training up the SENCO, it is about training up the whole school and the whole workforce.
“There have been financial pressures on schools over the past few years which have created tensions in the system.”