Norfolk County Council is investing £1.5m to double the size of its specialist education team and speed up assessments for education, health and care plans (EHCPs).

It is part of the council’s ambition to ensure that all children with special educational needs receive the right help and support as early as possible and comes on the back of £120m of County Council investment in specialist school places.

Cllr Stuart Dark, Chairman of the Children’s Services Committee at Norfolk County Council, said:

“We want all children with special educational needs in Norfolk to get the right help as early as possible, whether this is in mainstream or specialist schools. That’s why we’re investing £120m in new specialist places and recruiting to our EHCP teams.

“Like many authorities, we’ve been facing unprecedented pressure across special educational needs services but we are investing, recruiting and lobbying to ensure that we have the right resources for Norfolk’s children.

‘We want our performance on EHCPs to be as good as it possibly can be and have focussed activity in place to enable us to achieve this and are already making progress’

There were 1,060 requests for EHCP assessments in 2018 – up from 172 in 2014. The County Council has already made some increases to the teams of EHCP coordinators and Educational Psychologists that work in this area. It will now double the capacity.

The increase in demand for special education needs assessments has coincided with the requirement to convert old style statements of special educational need into the new EHCPs.

Changes in legislation have meant that anyone could request an assessment and that the new plans had to bring together both children’s education and health needs.

EHCPs are for children with the highest levels of need and children do not need a plan in order to receive specialist support in a mainstream school. However, they do need a plan to attend a special school.

Part of the council’s investment is to provide outreach within mainstream schools, to help give them the skills and advice to support pupils with SEND.