Safety Valve agreement

We have agreed a proposal by the Department for Education (DfE) to enter into a Safety Valve agreement.

As part of this agreement, we successfully negotiated a £140 million contribution from the DfE towards eliminating the cumulative deficit arising from existing and forecast overspends on high needs funding for schools for children and young people identified as having special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

Under the agreement, we will control and reduce the cumulative deficit over the next five years by contributing a further £82 million.

This will mean Kent’s SEND services will be protected from cuts to repay the overspends that have accumulated.

The agreement allows us to continue our focus on improving SEND services within the money available.

By entering into the Safety Valve agreement with the DfE, we will be putting in place a range of measures to make sure appropriate provision is available. These include:

  1. Building further capacity in mainstream schools to support children and young people with SEN, increasing the proportion of children successfully supported in mainstream education and reducing dependence on specialist provision;
  2. Ensuring there is sufficient and consistent capacity across the county to support children with severe and complex needs in their local area where possible;
  3. Reviewing the system of education, health and care (EHC) plan assessments and annual reviews to ensure robustness, transparency, and consistency, through use of consistent criteria and practice framework;
  4. Developing a robust post-16 offer across the county with clear pathways to independence for children with SEN, through increased post 16 opportunities for preparing for adulthood;
  5. Continuing to work closely with NHS Kent and Medway to ensure a common understanding of SEND needs, including the drivers behind increases in need, ensuring clarity of clinical assessment and the subsequent funding associated.

Some of the above is linked to developments in sufficiency and capacity of provision and KCC successfully bid for High Needs Capital funding for two new Special Free Schools in Swanley and Whitstable. A third bid for a special school in Sheppey was unsuccessful. Further detail from the DfE is expected in due course.

Read the full agreement.