Cash injection for children with special needs ‘not enough’

19 Dec 18

A cash injection to help councils provide services for children with special educational needs “isn’t enough”, school leaders have warned. 

An extra £350m has been committed to helping children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), £250m of which will go directly to councils over the next two years.

A further £100m top-up to the Special Provision Capital fund for local authorities will help create more specialist places in mainstream schools, colleges and special schools.

Announcing the funding boost on Sunday, education secretary Damian Hinds said: “Every school or college should be one for a young person with special educational needs; every teacher should be equipped to teach them, and families need to feel supported.”

The government also said that it will set up a new ‘SEND system leadership board’ which will encourage local authority education services to work more closely with health and social care to commission local services that meet the needs of the families and children in their area.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “Local authorities are so cash-strapped they resort to moving money out of strained school budgets to plug funding gaps in provision for children with the most complex needs.

“This extra money isn’t enough to fully address the shortfall in funding for children with special educational needs but it is a step in the right direction, and we hope it paves the way for a realistic settlement in next year’s government spending review.”

Carl Les, children’s services and education spokesman for the County Councils Network, said the extra money is a “welcome shot in the arm, which will help meet extra demand and reduce our overspends over the next two years.

“Our research shows that overspends on these vital services for young people had increased by 63% over the past three years for the high needs block of funding, projected to total £175m by 2020 in county areas,” he added.

Anntoinette Bramble, chair of the Local Government Association’s children and young people board, said: “We are pleased the government has listened to our concerns and will provide an emergency injection of desperately-needed money to tackle this crisis.

“Parents rightly expect and aspire to see that their child has the best possible education and support, and councils have done all they can to achieve this. However councils are reaching the point where the money is simply not there to keep up with demand, pushing support for children with SEND to a tipping point.”

A union report recently found increasing levels of child poverty is affecting children and young people’s education.

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