Suffolk County Council launches consultation on proposed changes to the future commissioning of specialist education services for children and young people

Published

Consultation launched on the proposed changes to the future commissioning of specialist education provision for children and young people age between 5 and 16.

Suffolk’s parents and carers of children and young people with SEND are being invited to have their say on proposed changes to the future commissioning of specialist education provision for children and young people between the ages of 5 and 25.

As demand for specialist education places in Suffolk continues to grow due to population growth and increasing complexity of special educational needs, Suffolk County Council must ensure there is the right provision in place to support children and young people with SEND.

Currently, the county council has a lower number of specialist education places than other similar authorities. Suffolk also has a high reliance on independent special school placements, which means children and young people often have to access their education outside of Suffolk away from their families.

The 6-week consultation is asking for views from the public on two main issues::

  • The key principles that will inform Suffolk’s future commissioning of specialist education provision; and
  • To express preference for one of three options, which each sets out a different commissioning strategy for the development of Suffolk’s specialist educational provision.

The options are:

  • Option 1 – to meet all additional growth for new specialist places through the independent sector
  • Option 2 - to meet most of the additional growth by developing new special schools, using independent placements for a small number of children with very specialist needs
  • Option 3 - to meet the additional growth by combination of new specialist support centres attached to existing main stream and specialist providers and new special schools, using independent placements for a small number of very specialist needs

As part of developing these proposals Suffolk County Council held workshops across Suffolk during April, May and June this year with education providers, parents and carers to develop a set of key principles and alternative options to present for consultation.

Councillor Gordon Jones, cabinet member for children’s services, education and skills at Suffolk County Council, said:

"The education landscape has changed, therefore, we need to make sure our SEND provision is sustainable and able to meet the growing future demands in Suffolk.

“This is a comprehensive piece of work which has involved all partners in a co-production process for the benefit of children and young people with additional needs.

"I invite people to take part in the consultation and have their say on the alternative proposals through the county council website or by email or phone. Further details can be found on the website.”

"The consultation closes at 5pm on 7 August.”

Visit www.suffolk.gov.uk/SENDsufficiencyeducation for more information about the consultation.

A paper copy of the survey is available by emailing SENDBusinessSystems@suffolk.gov.uk or calling 0345 603 1842.