To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps she is taking to ensure that Education Health and Care assessments are carried out in Early Years Education.
On 2 March 2023, the department published the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) and Alternative Provision (AP) Improvement Plan, which sets out the next steps we will take to deliver a more positive experience for children, young people and families.
The department will establish a single national system that delivers for every child and young person with SEND so that they enjoy their childhood, achieve good outcomes, and are well prepared for adulthood and employment. For those children and young people with SEND who do require an education, health, and care (EHC) assessment, we have set out our vision for a reformed and consistent EHC plan process which will include early years education. This will ensure that children and young people with SEND get prompt access to the support they need, and that parents don’t face an adversarial system to secure this.
The department recognises the important role of the early years sector in the early identification of needs and in building up effective working relationships with parents about their child’s needs.
Early intervention is crucial, which is why, as part of the £180 million early years recovery programme, we are funding up to 5,000 early years staff to gain an accredited level 3 Special Education Needs Coordinator qualification to support the early years sector, help identify children who need support, and provide expert advice.
High needs funding will also be at £10.1 billion in 2023/24 which is an increase of over 50% from the 2019/20 allocations.
Local authorities will be able to use this funding to support children and young people with SEND in mainstream schools and elsewhere, including those in early years and requiring an EHC plan or assessment.