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Friday, 24 July 2020 15:54

Education, Health and Care Plans in Kent


Placements of Kent EHCP Children 2018-19
The table below shows the current placements of Kent children with EHCPs according to the type of school. KCC has once again adopted a policy to encourage more children to take up places in mainstream schools, partly because they are cheaper, but in line with government strategy. Both KCC and government strategy have changed dramatically over the years. It was in 2010 that KCC officers went behind Council Members' backs and began to phase out all Kent’s SEN Units without their knowledge; and in 2015, a senior KCC stated in an official document (falsely)  that parents preferred Units to Special schools. I have come across several documents indicating a further policy shift towards inclusivity in mainstream schools and attempting to claw back expenditure on private schools (although without a suggestion how this is to happen). The KCC Commissioning Plan states as one of its aims: 'To shape a shared strategic approach to fostering inclusion in mainstream settings and schools across Kent'. In 2018, Kent had 40% of pupils with an EHCP in mainstream schools, as against a national percentage of 61%.

The most recent Kent Schools Commissioning Plan (pp 23 onwards) underlines the increase in EHCPs to 3.4% of the total school population in January 2019, significantly higher than the national figure of 3.1%. It also looks at the pressures in each local area and by specific need in detail. That year there was an increase of 13.3% in EHCP numbers (11.1% nationally), and the plan then looks at new provision needs over the next few years. My survey of Individual Special Schools also looks at the two new ones approved for opening this September. Since I wrote this article, KCC and government have announced the opening of a new Special School in Sheppey, in 2022. The Unit section shows the large number of Units opened in recent years to meet the increased need.  Special Schools are by some way the best performing Kent schools by the Ofsted measure, with seven out of 22 being Outstanding, and another 14 being Good. 

This is all taking place in a climate of ‘Reduced parental confidence in mainstream school SEND provision, evidenced by rising demand for EHCPs and special school placements’ (KCC document), together with parental pressure for expensive private school places. Too many mainstream schools actively discourage children with SEN from joining them (we don’t have the facilities or the expertise, and so can’t cope; there is a much better school down the road….), as identified in the Inspection Report.

The theory that inclusivity in mainstream schools is best for most children depends greatly on the school ethos, with some offering excellent provision, but the families of too many children are left feeling they are unwanted. Fortunately, Kent does have a strong record of a high-quality provision in specialist schools and units, but nearly all are under intense pressure on places. What if a family has an EHCP and cannot access the Special School or SEN Unit they feel is appropriate for their child's needs. They can appeal to an SEN Tribunal, a lengthy process, which can be very costly to mount a good case, but if unsuccessful or they cannot afford to or cope with going down this route, then Private school for the few, back into mainstream schools for the many, education at home or 'other' as identified below. 22 of the'other' children are in Pupil Referral Units, but the data is silent on the fate of the remainder. 

2018-19 Placements of Kent EHCP Children
 Primary Primary % Secondary Secondary %
Mainstream  1817 40% 1555 30%
Units 499 11% 550 11%
Special 1875 41% 2227 43%
Private In Kent 50 1% 504 10%
Private out Kent 238 5% 162 3%
Educated at Home 33 1% 68 1%
Other 88 2% 155 3%
Total 4600   5221  

I have not considered Post 16 pupils in this article.

Elective Home Education and EHCP
For the school year 2018-19, 52 pupils were taken out of Kent schools to be educated at home, a decision that hides a multitude of reasons. The research on EHE for a Channel Four programme in which I was heavily involved in last year, called Skipping School, highlighted the pressure put on some children with Special Needs to leave schools and take up EHE for which their family circumstances were entirely unsuited. I have no data to explain the following, but naturally suspect that some of these children fall into this category. 
52 children with EHCPs were de-registered for EHE during the year, most coming from Swale with nine (Oasis Sheppey?), Tonbridge and Malling eight and Maidstone seven. 21 of these ere from primary schools, 19 from secondary schools and 12 from Special Schools. 





You will find the Section on Private and State Special Schools on the Next Page

Last modified on Tuesday, 28 July 2020 07:05

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