THE director of children’s services at BCP Council has said the Safety Valve programme ‘does not work’.

Cathi Hadley said the SEND system needs to be considered nationally to make sure it works for everyone, as it currently does not.

She said: “In a way, the SEND system does not work for anybody.

“That's councils, that's parents, that's carers, that's education.

“And so there needs to be a national consideration of what would work and how it can be employed differently or considered differently. That’s where we need to get to.

“My personal opinion is the safety valve isn't working either.”

She said the council is still a part of the controversial programme, despite the government rejecting its 15-year plan earlier this month.

The authority is still in conversations with the Department for Education over what the council’s involvement might be.

“You will see, across the safety valve programme, there are a number of local authorities that are renegotiating because they're not meeting the key performance indicators,” Cathi said.

“I think there's one local authority which is now negotiating a ten year [agreement].

“I guess it's about how we consider that. I think middle ground might be, but I think the system is not one that is supportive.”

She is yet to have a follow-up meeting with the DfE since the plan was rejected, but conversations will continue surrounding what is achievable for the council within the scheme.

Councillor Richard Burton, portfolio holder for children and young people, said the council’s priority is ‘putting the children first’.

“No one else has tried to do a 15-year, the reason that BCP have done this is because we are putting the children, the young people first and not chasing the money like some local authorities,” he said.

“[They] dived into the five-year plan two years ago and now are going, my goodness, how are we going to achieve this? BCP haven't done that.

“[We] refused to go, we'll do the five-year plan and take the money and then see how it pans out.

“We've said no, 15 years is the only thing we can do to look for an improved service.

“At the end of that time, a good service is actually, by design, is a cheaper service because you're actually fixing the problems before they get expensive.”