The short breaks innovation programme, which currently provides a range of activities for children with SEND, to help improve their health, education and wellbeing outcomes is going to be extended to a further seven local authorities.
Backed by £30 million, activities include cooking classes, theatre trips and craft workshops, providing children with SEND an opportunity to develop social skills and friendships, whilst offering parents a break from caring responsibilities.
Alongside the short breaks programme, children and young people are being supported to reach their full potential with a pilot introduced to test widening eligibility of the supported internships programme.
The work-based study programme for young people aged 16 to 24 is currently for those who have Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCP), and aims to provide support during the transition from education into paid employment. Twelve local authorities are taking part in the pilot of the programme, supporting those who do not have an EHCP but require extra support to gain employment.
The Department for Education has also announced that going forward they will be collecting new data about the numbers of children with Down syndrome and where they are educated as part of changes to the School Census. This, they say, helps the Government commitment to improving the life outcomes and opportunities for people with Down syndrome, to identify good practice and shape long term services. This follows on from the Down Syndrome Act 2022 aiming to raise the understanding and awareness of the specific needs of people with Down syndrome.
The announcements made on Friday build on wider government reform through the SEND and AP Improvement Plan which outlines plans to reform the system, ensuring every child has access to a high-quality, fulfilling education. The SEND system is underpinned by investment in the high need budget, which will have risen by over 60% since 2019-20 to over £10.5 billion in 2024-25.
Children and Families Minister, David Johnston said:
“We are going further than ever to reform the special educational needs and disabilities system through the SEND and AP Improvement Plan, addressing a range of issues that families come up against.
Today we’re building on that work to strengthen outcomes for young people with SEND, from enhanced data gathering to shape future services and short breaks, to helping young people transition from education to employment to ensure they have the best life chances.”
The Short Breaks Innovation Fund is a £30 million programme aiming to improve support services for children with SEND and their families, by funding local authorities to establish innovative projects to address gaps in current short break services.
Local authorities are provided with up to £1.5 million each to deliver and fund new activities and experiences for children and young people with SEND, which would otherwise be inaccessible. The first and second years of funding have helped pilot new approaches to build a body of evidence to inform practice nationally.
The supported internships pilot builds on our £18 million investment in supported internships, which aims to develop capacity in the system to double the number of supported internships per year to 4,500 by 2025.
Please note that this article was published on 22nd January and the date has been changed for newsletter inclusion