A TEACHERS’ union has hit out at North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) plans to reform support for pupils with special education needs.

The new model will establish 31 new Enhanced Mainstream Schools (EMS) across the secondary and primary sector.

EMS are attached to mainstream schools in North Yorkshire and provide support for pupils with special educational needs.

The reform will focus on communication, interaction and social, emotional and mental health, as there are growing numbers of children with these specific special needs.

But the National Education Union (NEU) believes the new model may put the education of vulnerable children at risk.

Anne Swift, executive member of the NEU, said: “The NEU in North Yorkshire is very concerned about the proposals for providing services to pupils with special educational needs, their families and the schools they attend.”

The NEU suggests that the council’s reform is “unproven and cheaper,” and that it is driven by “saving money,” alongside the original priority of reducing exclusion rates.

They add that under the new plans, additional pressure may be applied to the pupils with special needs as they will be supported during mainstream curriculum, rather than in a specified environment.

Jane le Sage, NYCC’s assistant director for inclusion said: “This new model is an important part of our strategic plan for children with special educational needs and disabilities to provide what families tell us they want.

“We are aware that some of our existing EMS do not want to change to the new model.”

The council added it will offer support to special needs pupils, including education psychologists and speech and language therapists.

It also plans to ensure that school staff have the expertise required to meet pupils’ needs. There are currently 29 schools which have expressed an interest in the new model. The new EMS are set to come into operation from September 2020, as part of a two-year roll-out.