Schools ‘putting off’ SEND children because of budget pressures

18 Jan 19

Pressure on budgets is leading schools to resist admitting children with special educational needs, according to an education watchdog.

Shan Scott, chief adjudicator at the Office of the Schools Adjudicator, noted that children with SEND were generally well served by the admissions system in England, in her annual report released yesterday.

However, she noted that 20 local authorities had reported that admissions authorities, such as academy trusts or the governing bodies of voluntary aided or foundation schools, were resisting having their school name on a child’s education, health and care plan, a statutory document that sets out how additional support needs will be met.

In her report, Scott said: “Worryingly, I was told that this is becoming more widespread ‘as the pressures on [local authorities] and school budgets increase. More schools are now, at the initial consultation, refusing to admit for less and less justifiable reasons.’

“Another local authority said, ‘some academies may be using informal means to dissuade some of these children.’”

Such strategies could include making the families visiting the school feel that their child is not wanted or will not be supported. This was to encourage parents to request an alternative school in their child’s statutory plan.

“Sometimes, I am told, schools seek to delay the statutory process again with the aim of encouraging parents to ask for a different school to be named,” Scott added.

Last month, school and council leaders warned that funding for children with SEND were not sufficient.

  • Vivienne Russell

    Vivienne Russell is managing editor of Public Finance magazine and publicfinance.co.uk

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