EXTRA school places have been created for almost 100 children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) in North Yorkshire.

The county council is pushing ahead with its plan to transform provision for special needs children and on top of the nearly 100 additional places, it will provide a further 72 targeted permanent full-time SEND places within mainstream schools in the coming year.

A review of the first year of the council’s SEND strategic plan, which has just been published, highlights the significance of the changes.

As well as creating additional special school places, including a Ripon site for Mowbray School with the capacity to provide up to 60 places, North Yorkshire has successfully bid for a special school in Selby.

The council has also transformed the pupil referral service working with headteachers, creating a new funding structure and more local control.

There is a focus on supporting children at risk of exclusion so they remain in mainstream school and close to their own communities.

And there is evidence this year that the number of permanent exclusions is falling.

The council has also increased the educational opportunities for children with medical needs.

Councillor Patrick Mulligan, North Yorkshire’s executive member for education and skills, said: “Our long-term plan was developed in collaboration with children and young people, their parents and carers, and professional partners."

He added: “We have lost no time in working with all our partners to bring these much-needed changes about.

"Supporting children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities is one of the most important jobs that we do and when we look back over this first year, we can see that we are already well on our way to making this plan to improve the life chances of young people with SEND a reality.”

North Yorkshire is facing unprecedented and increasing demand on its special educational needs and disability budget.

There are almost 163,000 children and young people aged up to 25 in the county and the numbers with Education and Health Care Plans are rising. There are currently more than 3,200 with plans but this is predicted to rise by nearly another 1,000 by 2022, in line with national trends.

This is in addition to over 10,000 children with SEND receiving support in school.