Support for children aged 0-25 with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities

Safety Value update for young people

We have been told that there is some concern amongst our young people who currently attend specialist education settings that BCP Council is aiming to end these placements or move young people out of these placements into other education settings as part of our ‘Safety Valve’ proposal.

We would like to reassure you that this is not the case.

Like many Local Authorities, BCP Council is experiencing financial pressure. We do have a long-term plan to increase our offer of specialist provision for 16+ and 18+ within mainstream and local specialist colleges and to reduce our dependence on independent schools and colleges, some of which are very costly. This will benefit younger teenagers over the next few years with a broader range of options. But we'd like to repeat: there's no intention to end existing placements early.

We hope this helps. If you'd like to understand more about the financial situation and the 'Safety Valve' proposal, there is more information below, and if you have any questions please speak with your SEND Case Officer.

We would also like to take the opportunity to let you know that the structure of the SEND service has been reviewed and is due to change over the coming months. This is not to reduce staffing and is about improving our service to you. We will have some exciting new posts within the new structure, which will lead to a better experience for all of the children, young people and families we support and we will keep you updated of these changes via the Local OfferLocal OfferA local authority website resource that holds information on services and provision for children and young people with SEN and disabilities across education, health and social care and leisure..

Mary Diffey, SEND Service Manager

Explanation of 'Safety Valve'

We are currently spending around £20million a year more than we have, and by March 2024 we will be spending £63million more than we have if we do not do something.

We have been invited to take part in a government programme to help us with this. This programme is usually for between 4 and 7 years but we have created a 15-year plan. This is because we believe it will take 15 years for us to do everything we need to do to deal with our financial pressure without having a negative impact on children and young people.

One area of our 15-year plan looked at a reducing the costs of post-16 Independent Specialist provision but this was not about moving pupils from their current placements. It looked at pupils naturally finishing their programmes of study and also how we could make more local specialist provision for pupils coming through in the future, as building this early would mean money is saved in the future.

The government have now chosen not to go ahead with our plan but we do still need to do something about the amount we are spending so we will continue talking to them about this.

For full details on the Safety Valve programme, please see here: Funding of Special Education Needs and Disabilities services | BCP (