New official figures highlight grave concerns about the impact of the government’s special educational needs and disability (SEND) reforms on disabled children, according to a leading campaigner.The figures show that some local authorities are lagging far behind others in implementing the government’s reforms.Under the reforms, which came into effect in September 2014, following the Children and Families Act, local authorities in England have until April 2018 to move all disabled children eligible for support from SEN statements to new education, health and care plans (EHCPs).The plans will last from birth to the age of 25 and set out all the support a family should receive across education, health and social care.But the new Department for Education (DfE) statistics show a huge difference between local authorities in how quickly they are implementing the reforms, with some councils far more likely to be providing their disabled pupils with old-style statements instead of EHCPs.One of the worst-performing local authorities is Tory-run Westminster, which – by January 2016 – had set up just 30 EHCPs, compared with maintaining 1,005 SEN statements, with just 1.1 per cent of children with statements issued with a replacement EHCP.Labour-run Derby City Council had produced only 70 EHCPs and still had 1,200 statements, with just 3.1 per cent of children with statements issued with an EHCP.These figures compared with Nottinghamshire County Council, which only had 675 disabled children with statements but 1,170 with EHCPs (and more than half of children with statements moved on to EHCPs), and City of York Council, with 190 statements and 380 EHCPs (and 63.4 per cent moved on to EHCPs).There were also huge differences in how long families had to wait for their EHCPs, with only 8.3 per cent of EHCPs issued within the necessary 20 weeks by Oldham council, and 17.4 per cent in Kingston upon Hull.This compares with 92.9 per cent in Nottinghamshire, and 99.1 per cent in Bedford.Tara Flood (pictured), chief executive of The Alliance for Inclusive Education (ALLFIE), said she believed the figures show that many councils are struggling with education funding, partly because a significant number of disabled young people who previously were too old for statements are now eligible for EHCPs.Flood said she believed that the government’s reforms will cause the number of disabled children in mainstream school to “decline sharply”.ALLFIE is being approached by three or four parents a week concerned that their children are seeing a reduction in their support during the implementation of EHCPs.Children who previously had statements are now being awarded lower levels of support under EHCPs, she said, with both schools and local authorities blaming the government’s reforms, and some families being told their child is no longer eligible for any support.Flood warned that there had been little attempt to gather evidence on what was happening to the amount of support being offered to disabled children and young people as a result of the reforms.Last week, educational support organisation The Key revealed that a survey of more than 1,100 school leaders showed than eight in 10 schools across England and Wales had insufficient funding to provide adequately for their disabled pupils, while almost nine in 10 school leaders had seen the support they receive for these children “affected detrimentally” by cuts to council services.A Department for Education (DfE) spokeswoman said: “Just 20 months ago, we made fundamental changes to the way the SEND support system works for families – the biggest in a generation.“These figures show that overall, since the introduction of our reforms, 74,000 young people with SEND now have EHC plans – clear signs that we are on track and progress is being made.“Councils are learning new ways of working under the new assessment process, and we know there is still progress to be made to get this new system fully embedded.“These figures were collected in January and therefore do not show the current picture.“We are using this data to monitor how well councils are implementing their new duties, and to target the challenge and support we give them.”DfE said it was investing £45 million between 2014 and 2017 in providing “independent supporters” in every area to help parents and young people “navigate the EHC needs assessment and plan process”, as well as funding an implementation grant of £35.8 million for local authorities.Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission will assess how effectively local areas are working together to implement the Children and Families Act, with all local areas to be inspected over the next five years, while DfE said it would also work with the Department of Health and NHS England to help “spread good practice as well as bring about necessary improvements”.
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THE Exiles, a team made up of the cream of overseas talent drawn from the Stobart Super League, have named former St Helens and New Zealand Warriors coach Daniel Anderson as their head coach for the 2012 International Origin Series.The two-game programme pits them against England on Saturday June 16 at Langtree Park, St Helens and Wednesday July 4 with the venue to be announced at a later date and will see Anderson return to the UK for the first time since 2008 when he enjoyed great success as St Helens’ chief, winning the Challenge Cup and Super League title.Anderson, who is currently in Australia working for a national radio station, has not wasted any time in selecting Warrington Wolves full-back Brett Hodgson as his captain for the International Series.“It is a great honour to be selected as the coach of the Exiles,” said Anderson. “I love the concept and I believe I have some fantastic players at my disposal to continue on from last year’s victory over England and hopefully win this year’s series.“Brett Hodgson will make a great leader for the group. He has bags of experience and was part of last year’s winning side. He is well respected by his peers and his knowledge and understanding of what makes a successful camp will benefit the players as we approach the opening game in June.”Anderson, who also guided Parramatta Eels and New Zealand Warriors to NRL Grand Final appearances in recent years, will also be joined by Hull FC Director of Rugby Shaun McRae, former Bradford Bulls and New Zealand star Robbie Hunter-Paul and Wakefield Trinity Wildcats assistant boss Glenn Morrison in a newly formed Exiles management team.The four-man team will take full responsibility for developing the Exiles and will monitor player performance throughout the weekly rounds of the Stobart Super League before Anderson arrives in the country in early June.“We have a number of world-class players available to pick from,” added Anderson.“I will work closely with Shaun (McRae), Robbie (Hunter-Paul) and Glenn (Morrison) to make sure we are monitoring the players on a weekly basis with a view to selecting the strongest possible squad to face England.“England will no doubt use the two-game series as part of their continued preparation for the Rugby League World Cup in 2013, which is vital to their on-going development.“I see it as a way for those overseas players playing in the Super League to have another crack at representative football. The concept is gathering awareness across the sport and an intense series can only benefit the game in England.”Tickets for the England v Exiles, International Origin Game 1, at Langtree Park, St Helens, will go on sale to St Helens Season Ticket holders only from 9am on Thursday March 15 and can be purchased through the St Helens ticket office direct on 01744 455 052. Please note you can only buy your place or seat in this time period.Season ticket holders will have a two week exclusivity period before tickets go on General sale on Thursday March 29 when tickets, priced from £18 adult and £9 concession terracing, can be purchased through the RFL Ticket office on 0844 856 1113 or by visiting www.rugbyleaguetickets.co.ukIn addition, community groups and clubs can take advantage of a fantastic ticket offer with the RFL launching a group ticket deal whereby fans can take advantage of a seated match ticket, an England replica shirt and an Exiles replica shirt for only £44 for an adult and £34 for a concession (senior citizen over 65 and junior under 16). To take advantage of the group deal, please contact Ray Tennant 07595 520338 or Bev Coleman 07595 520578 and show your support for England and international Rugby League this summer.
SAINTS Reserves face Hull FC at Hull Ionians at 2.30pm on Saturday afternoon.Ian Talbot’s unbeaten side travel over to Humberside in the re-arranged fixture.If you had a ticket for the Hull FC v Saints game last Saturday then entry is free.Tickets for the game are just £3 adults and £1 concessions (65+, under 16s).Car parking is available at the ground for £3 on a first come, first served basis.The squad for the game is:Andre Savelio, Ben Morris, Brad Pinder, Calvin Wellington, Chris Follin, Dave Llewellyn, David Eccleston, Jonah Cunningham, Levy Nzoungou, Lewis Charnock, Lewis Furlong, Liam Cooper, Matty Fleming, Oli Davies, Ricky Bailey, Shannon McDonnell, Tom Connick, Tom Whittle, Tommi Hughes, Tony Suffolk.
Held at the Totally Wicked Stadium, the students, aged 9 to 10, act out a series of safety scenarios and emergency situations.The scheme’s aim is to help the children become more aware of their personal safety, make a contribution to crime prevention, avoid being a victim of crime, know what to do in an emergency, foster good citizenship and actively contribute to their own health and that of others.The Council’s Road Safety Team, who organised the event, delivered information about being safe near and on roads whilst the Youth Service team talked about water safety when out and about.Meanwhile, ESafety covered the importance of being safe online and the tips you can use to help make being online an enjoyable experience and the Rangers discussed safety and awareness in open spaces.Merseyside Police explained to the pupils how to make a 999 call and introduced them to the 101 number as a way of reporting crimes and other concerns that don’t require an emergency response.And St Johns Ambulance covered the importance of first aid and give the children a crash course in how to put someone into the recovery position when required to do so.