PRAISE has been heaped on services for youngsters with special needs, by the minister for children and families.
Edward Timpson met a group of students involved in the Engage programme at the Highbury Arundel Centre in Portsmouth yesterday.
The programme caters for 16 to 18-year-olds with behavioural, social and emotional needs.
It is run by Highbury College and Portsmouth City Council.
Mr Timpson said: ‘One of the reasons we’ve come to Portsmouth is that we’ve heard a lot of good reports about the progress that they have made and the collaboration that has happened between education and health and social care services.
‘Most importantly, it’s about the outcomes that we’re all seeking to achieve so that they can move on and reach their potential, go on to independent living, have a good education and hopefully get a job.
‘Portsmouth has been an exemplar of how the reforms should be implemented.
‘So we’ve come to find out how they’ve gone about that and see how we can form others across the country and replicate the good work that has gone on here.’
The minister met staff from the college and the council and young people from the Engage programme.
He also spoke to parents and professionals who have worked on the implementation of the special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) reforms.
The government has extended rights and protection to young people and introduced a new education, health and care plan.
It helps them prepare for adult life, including employment and independent living.
Mr Timpson said the reforms are vital to help young people with special needs.
‘It’s absolutely vital young people with SEND are supported during their school years and in the transition to the workplace when they finish education,’ he said.
‘Our reforms put children and parents right at the heart of the system and I look forward to seeing how this innovative project continues to develop over the coming months and years.’
City council leader Donna Jones said: ‘We’ve been working closely with parents, children and young people to make sure the SEND reforms work for them.
‘Today was a great opportunity to share our good practice.
‘All children and young people should have the opportunity to lead happy and fulfilled lives and the engage programme is a great example of what collaboration can achieve.’