SERVICES for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) in Stockton Borough are set to improve.

Proposals to reshape services so that support and intervention is available earlier and closer to a child’s home are being considered.

It will mean that more children with SEND can attend a school near to where they live, however, any changes would be phased in so would not affect children who are already accessing SEND services.

At the moment SEND provision is delivered through specialist academies, additionally resourced provisions attached to mainstream schools, an early support nursery and an independent specialist school.  Many children often have to travel outside the Borough to receive specialist placements.

The alternative model would see the existing provision developed further.

Additionally resourced provisions would be re-designated and organised into hubs covering central, south and north Stockton so support is available for all families locally.

Earlier support and intervention by specialist services such as occupational therapy, speech and language as well as educational psychology advice would be provided by the hubs.

The introduction of additional specialist school provision is also being considered.

Anyone interested in finding out more about the proposed changes and helping inform the improvements is invited to attend a consultation meeting at the end of the month.

The sessions will take place at the Robert Atkinson Centre in Thornaby on 24 November between 9am and 10am, the Education Centre at Stockton Sixth Form College on 24 November between 5.30pm and 6pm, Billingham Forum on 25 November between 5.30pm and 6.30pm, and Preston Hall Museum on 29 November between 9am and 10am.

Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, Councillor Ann McCoy, said: “We want all of our children and young people to have the very best chance of reaching their full potential in life and that’s why it is important that the SEND services we provide are shaped to best support the children and young people who need them.

“We have already spent a lot of time talking to schools across the Borough and now we are keen to hear from anyone who has an interest in these services so we can listen to and consider everyone’s views before a final decision is made.”

The views shared at the consultation meetings will be reported back to Cabinet in January.

If the proposals are agreed the changes will begin to be introduced from September 2017.  If implemented, transitional arrangements would be put in place so it will not be necessary for any child to move from an existing placement.

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