Hertfordshire headteacher complains about funding from county council for children with special educational needs
When a child requires additional support in the classroom, they are usually assessed for an ‘educational health and care plan’ (EHCP)
A Hertfordshire headteacher has taken the unusual step of formally complaining about funding from the county council for children with special educational needs.
When a child requires additional support in the classroom, they are usually assessed for an ‘educational health and care plan’ (EHCP).
That plan is a formal legal document that identifies the educational, heath and social needs of a specific child or young person, up to the age of 25.
It specifies the support that is required and even the school a child should attend.
And that can mean additional support – and funding – being put in place for the child.
But one Hertfordshire headteacher is so concerned about the lack of funding being allocated to his school for EHCP provision that he has formally complained to the Local Government Ombudsman.
Acknowledging the complaint, a report published by the Ombudsman states: “Mr X is the Headteacher of a school.
“He complains the Council has failed to provide proper funding for children with Education, Health and Care Plans at the school.”
But he says that to investigate the headteacher’s complaint would fall outside the jurisdiction of the Local Government Ombudsman.
“Mr X is complaining in his capacity as Headteacher of the school,” says the Ombudsman.
“We can only investigate complaints from members of the public.
“We cannot investigate complaints from public bodies about the actions of a council or other body within our jurisdiction.
“Therefore, we cannot investigate this complaint.”
Following the publication of the Ombudsman decision not to investigate, the county council has highlighted the increasing demand for specialist provision.
And they say it is working hard with families to ensure children’s needs are met and that they are happy with the support.
“We are fully committed to making sure that all children with SEND and EHCP in Hertfordshire receive the support they need and deserve, and work in partnership with young people, parents and schools to that end,” said the spokesperson for the county council.
“In common with many local authorities, we are experiencing a high demand for specialist provision, with a 37 per cent increase in pupils with Education and Health Care Plans (EHCPs) in the last three years, as well as additional challenges due to Covid-19.
“We have recognised that there has been a gap in specialist provision and, as a result, we have taken on considerable work to identify the needs of children and young people, and the best provision to meet these needs.
“This has included significantly increasing our investment into SEND funding in mainstream schools across the county from £9.5m to £17.5m this year.
“Our Special School Place Planning Strategy 2020-23 sets out our commitment and investment to create over 300 new permanent special school places, and the development of a countywide pattern of specialist resource provision in mainstream schools, in the next five years.
“We are working hard with families to make sure that their children’s needs are met and that they are happy with the support received.”