Campaign steps up fight for increased SEND funds

Written by: SecEd | Published:

The government faces yet more pressure over school funding levels for SEND with local authorities and education unions signing a joint letter to education secretary Damian Hinds.

The letter, signed by 39 local authorities and a number of education unions, expresses “deep concern” over provision for children with SEND.

It wants to see a “significant increase” in the High Needs Block Funding to local authorities and increases to general funding for schools.

Last year, the Department for Education announced a £215 million fund to create new school places and improve existing facilities for SEND children. And in May, it revealed what it called a “funding boost” of £50 million to create additional school places and facilities for children with SEND. It is not clear how much of this funding will be for special schools and how much for mainstream education.

However, the letter says that this is not new funding and will not solve the long-term problems facing the system.

The letter states: “The government’s recent cash injection for SEND does not introduce any new money into local authority budgets and this will not solve the long-term challenges local authorities and schools face in delivering effective SEND provision.

“Lack of adequate SEND funding is limiting local authorities’ ability to meet their statutory duties for children living with SEND. The result has been far-reaching reductions to SEND provision and nationally over 2,000 children and young people identified with complex needs with no education provision at all.”

It comes after the National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS) reported in May that a third of local authorities are set to cut an average of 10 per cent in funding from their specialist services for deaf and hearing-impaired children – this could amount to as much as £4 million cut from support services this year.

In April, a survey of 900 staff by the National Education Union – one of the signatories of the letter – found that SEND funding cuts were worsening. It reported that half of respondents said their school has cut support for SEND children this year with a third of schools cutting SEND posts.

And in December, Ofsted’s annual report warned that some parents have been asked to educate SEND children at home because their schools were struggling to meet their needs.
Official data shows that the proportion of pupils with SEN Statements or Education, Health and Care Plans in mainstream state secondary schools dropped to 22 per cent in 2017 from
29 per cent in 2010.

The letter states: “We call for a significant increase in High Needs Block Funding to local authorities, which will allow local authorities and schools to provide appropriate support to children and young people with the most complex needs.”


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