ANZIO Digital Battle continues for Children with additional needs.

by Patricia Montgomery, LincsMag Writer.
Date: 01 March 2010

Photograph by José A. Warletta - Battle continues for Children with additional needs - Lincolnshire Magazine -

The County Council’s Executive decision in February to change the funding of children with additional needs bands 1-5.

Marianne Overton, Leader of the Shadow Cabinet formed by the Independent Group at Lincolnshire County Council has consulted parents and visited schools to consider the proposal to cut out Statements for children with additional needs.

Councillor Marianne Overton said:

"We have to get it right for these vulnerable children, or the suffering and long term costs could be huge. The Independent Group remain deeply concerned about the new arrangements for children with additional needs. We called in the disturbing “direction of travel” decision last September and some aspects were taken out of the proposals, but fundamental flaws remain. The money is being devolved to schools and though there are intentions to monitor it, it is not ring-fenced.

"Worse, the money is not going directly to the schools where the children are placed. Instead the funding formula is biased towards schools in disadvantaged areas. Without the money needed to support these children, schools may be reluctant to assess them, reluctant to accept them and quick to exclude them.

"Parents who move to into disadvantaged areas and send their children to poorer performing schools will get extra support. Education by post code seems to me to be a backward step. Since the needs are not formally assessed, there will be little argument to support budget requirements. With the Council now at arm’s length, the budget may be less secure in the longer term. Without statements, there are no guarantees for parents."

The additional monitoring needed may well add beaurocracy and remove any possible savings. There were delays in the old system, as parents found themselves battling every step as the Council fought against providing extra support for children.

Battle continues for Children with additional needs - Lincolnshire Magazine -

If the school does not have the money, there will be little point in battling the case at all. We were told that where this system has been introduced in other counties, the number of statements and therefore the number of appeals are less, but it would be disingenuous to assume they were happy!

Parents need the school’s support to help with the necessary assessments. If there is no income attached to provide the support, then the school will be reluctant to assist.

Without this policy, there have been some improvements in the system. Access to an NHS educational psychologist has recently improved, with waiting times dramatically down. There is a system of emergency support to enable a school to provide what is needed in the interim. Schools do already group the children to make the best use of the support, so that other less able children who do not have statements can also get help. The Independents and parents called for a smoother system, but this isn’t it.

Chris Brewis, Independent member on the Scrutiny said, “The previous decision called in by the Independent Councillors, resulted in a promise to undertake a comprehensive consultation with those affected. Our worst fears have been realised. Parents and carers were not consulted, except a small hand-picked “stakeholder” group who were sworn to secrecy.”

The Independents call for :

  • Ring-fencing of monies given to schools to be attached to children with special needs.
  • Assessment of children to take place before they arrive in a school and for the care they need to be there on their first day.
  • Each school to have a designated member of staff responsible for ensuring assessments are done and provision in place before the child arrives, maintained whilst they are in school and reviewed fairly.
  • Budget to be set aside for statements in recognition that it is a parent’s legal right to have one for their child.
  • Full consultation with parents and carers and all relevant parties, with a view to improving the proposals to mitigate their concerns.

The Lincolnshire Independents urge parents to write directly to the Secretary of State, with copies to their member of parliament. (Letters to your MP are free post at the House of Commons, London SW1) and to also contact Councillor Marianne Overton at

Additional Information

Since the Council does not intend to require schools to assess the children formally, there is no measure as to how much extra support is needed. Hence the money is not intended to follow the child, but to be handed to schools whose children come from disadvantaged post codes, have free school meals and where schools have a poorer overall performance. Whilst this may raise general standards, the worry is how it will affect the individual children who do have additional needs. Parents say these needs often go unrecognised by schools and unsupported, which is why parents seek statements.

The law insists that parents can have statements, but if the school as a whole is performing and the children do not come from disadvantaged areas, then the school will not have the money to support that child, statement or not.

There has been no consultation with parents and carers in the formation of this policy, other than a small selected group who were sworn to secrecy, preventing them from representing the views of others. Extensive consultation done in 2008 raised serious concerns that are not addressed in this policy.

By law, parents can demand a statement, which requires that the child is properly assessed over a period of time and given a legally binding statement of needs. Parents have found the system failing because of “beaurocratic delays”. A number of parents describe having to fight for their rights at every step against apparently reluctant authorities.

This proposal is a leap of faith in that it hands the money directly to the schools, leaving the assessments and provision up to them.

The quality of provision will depend on the schools and on the County Council’s ability to monitor and influence a process no longer under their control.

The financial allocation to schools would cease to be allocated according to the needs of the children, but instead, according to their post code and whether they have free school meals and the overall performance of the school. It may not be spent directly on those most needy children, but may be used for equipment in general use or other general needs.

This is more about raising general standards in disadvantaged areas and not about support for those individuals with special needs. This is not “every child matters”.

If parents want the extra support needed, they may in future find themselves fighting the school instead of the County Council and of course, the school has the power to exclude or not accept difficult children.”

Shadow Councillor for Children’s services, John Hicks, added, “Without statements, there is no guarantee that the children will get the support they need, and the consequences for them and the people around them, could be dire.”


The budget for 2009/10 is around £20m for around 2,815 children with additional needs bands 1-5. An additional £8m was given to schools to raise general standards under “School Action” and “School Action Plus”. This has been welcomed by schools and some have clearly used it well, but it has not been monitored. Has this precursor of the current policy been effective in reducing the demand for statements?

It is intended that some children will have “personalised learning statements”, instead of legally binding statements. This uses the same assessment process as the current system, so there is no financial saving. It will, however be up to the school to do them and there is no funding attached to provide any support needed.

The County Council will need to monitor it closely, a further layer of bureaucracy. No information as to exactly how it will be monitored is given.

The process of these new statements appears to be similar in time and resources, except that the school takes it off the County Council and there is no legal protection.

The next area for investigation by the County Council is the provision for children with higher level needs, in band 6 to 8, currently mainly in special schools.

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