Portsmouth City Council has resolved to improve timescales for delivering education, health and care plans.

Statistics reported in the national media have shown that only one of 148 cases in 2023 was completed within the statutory timeframes, with the city being affected by national increases in demand.

Looking at this impact locally, since 2000, the number of requests for Education Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) made annually in Portsmouth has increased by 106%. In 2022-23 alone, there has been 38% increase in requests. For context, the total number of EHCPs has increased by 51% in the city since 2017.

There has been an increasing number of early years requests, with around 30% of them made for some of Portsmouth’s youngest children. This has increased by over 5% in the last two years.

This has been further exacerbated by a nationwide shortage of educational psychologists to deliver the work. However, steps have already been taken to make improvements.

Cllr Suzy Horton, Cabinet Member for Cabinet Member for Children, Families & Education said:

“We recognise this is not an acceptable level of performance and the impact that delayed assessments have on families, schools and other educational settings.

“A sustained improvement in performance in this area is a priority for the council and investment has been made to ensure that the teams and services who support this area of work have the resources that are needed to facilitate this. We have increased our access to educational psychologists and the size of our SEND (special educational needs and disabilities) team, and this is already showing an improvement in the time we can deliver plans.”

Despite the current situation with assessments, Portsmouth continues to deliver some excellent outcomes in the work it does to support children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities. The council liaises closely with schools, other educational settings and partners to further the inclusion agenda and to provide specialist places in the city where required. It also has a long-established culture of working in partnership with parents and carers to ensure the very best outcomes for children and young people.