Selaine Saxby MP spoke in the Special Educational Needs (SEN) Provision and Funding debate in Westminster to highlight concerns around SEN provision in North Devon.
Selaine met with Devon County Council (DCC) at the end of last year to discuss SEN and regularly has meetings to discuss provision in North Devon. During the debate, Selaine noted the figures from Devon County Council which show that Devon is still diagnosing SEN at twice the rate of neighbouring councils.
Figures from DCC, suggest that Devon receives an average of £790 per head compared to the national average of £886, ranking 122 out of 151 local authorities. However, the number of children and young people with an Education, Health and Care Plan (ECHP) in Devon has grown from 3,718 in 2017 to 8,400 in 2023 which is a 126% increase. Transport costs for Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) children was also mentioned in her speech, noting a 157% increase, rising from £10.4 million in 2017/18 to £26.8 million 2023/24.
There are positive developments on this issue with DCC announcing a 10.4% increase in the revenue budget for children’s services to help vulnerable children. There are also current discussions with the Department for Education to seek financial support through the Safety Valve Intervention Programme and Devon has produced a Deficit Management Plan, as part of the SEND Transformation Programme.
Selaine welcomed the Government’s commitment to work with Devon and asked the Minister to look at addressing sustainable early years support and intervention so that pupils can avoid the need to apply for an EHCP and look at how they can be supported to reach their full potential.
Selaine Saxby, MP for North Devon said:
“I welcome the Minister and his predecessors’ commitment to work with Devon as part of its Safety Valve programme and I am keen to work with the Minister to secure this. He has agreed to meet me to discuss the pressing issues in North Devon. I have made clear to ministers that SEND provision in North Devon, as with other services, would benefit from more awareness of the differences in needs and concerns in rural areas".
"I paid tribute to parents, teachers and students in North Devon who are battling the system to get what they believe is right for them and their child. I briefly taught before being elected as a Member of Parliament and was shocked at the enormous number of children with special educational needs and I hope that we can look to early interventions to begin to address the problem".
“The arrival of the new and proactive Chief Executive at Devon County Council, Donna Manson is very welcomed with her background in delivering services in rural areas. This gives me hope that we are now turning a corner to tackling these challenges, but this is going to take time.”