Medway Council is planning for the future to ensure there is suitable special education need provision in years to come.
There are three special schools in Medway, all of which have been graded outstanding by Ofsted. All three schools provide children and young people who have complex special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) with extra support to help them develop into young adults and achieve their full potential.
Nationally, local authorities are seeing a significant increase in young people who have special education needs and disabilities and Medway has also identified this trend. Medway Council currently maintains Education, Health and Care plans for 2,034 children and young people aged 0 to 25 years who have special educational needs and disabilities, compared with 1,779 in academic 2017-18. The vast majority of these children and young people attend educational provision within Medway and the number of children attending educational provision outside of Medway has fallen from 291 in 2017-18 to 244 in 2018-19.
The council regularly reviews all of the services it provides and a recent review of SEND provision at Abbey Court School, for both primary and secondary ages, found that there is sufficient capacity up until September 2020.
Medway Council is developing plans to ensure that the appropriate provision is in place by September 2020 for children with special education needs and disabilities. The council will carefully consider a number of options across Medway to ensure the needs of all children are met.
Tens of millions of pounds have already been invested in Medway schools, including £13million for the provision of the new Abbey Court Primary School. In addition, Medway Council has secured £1.37million of government funding to be used over the next three years to support its work to provide more opportunities for young people with special education needs and disabilities. Some of this funding has been used to support children with special education needs and disabilities whose needs can be met in maintained schools, such as those with a hearing impairment. In May 2018, the council was allocated a further £360,000 making the total allocation £1.698million over 2018-2021.
The council has provided more than 3,000 additional primary school places across Medway since 2013 and plans to provide more than 3,000 additional secondary school places across Medway in future years. Medway’s commitment to securing school places for children of all abilities has given Medway the title of being joint first nationally for providing additional places that are good or outstanding.
Cllr Andrew Mackness, Medway Council’s Portfolio Holder for Children’s Services, said: “Medway has three special schools which are providing children and young people with special education needs and disabilities the support they need and deserve. Unfortunately there has been some misinformation suggesting that there are not enough secondary places at Abbey Court School. The inaccurate information did not come from myself or the council, and unfortunately caused great distress for parents across Medway. I would like to reassure parents of the facts - that there is sufficient provision being provided at Abbey Court School up until September 2020.
”Medway is full of some fantastic schools which can meet the needs of children of all abilities and help them flourish to achieve their full potential. We are committed to ensuring that we provide the most appropriate support for each child and we will continue to support all children living across Medway. In light of the increase in demand seen nationally, we are planning now for our children’s future to ensure the necessary provision is provided in years to come and we are excited about exploring the range of options to ensure we have a varied special school provision in Medway.”