NAHT holds crisis summit on SEND funding

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School leaders are holding a summit on tackling the cuts in special educational needs funding today.

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More than 100 school leaders, teachers and governors from across the country will gather at a summit  on Friday (7 December) organised by school leaders’ union NAHT to discuss the crisis in funding for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

They will be joined by SEND campaigners, including broadcaster and voice coach Carrie Grant, at the conference venue at Aston Wood Golf Club in Sutton Coldfield.

Six of the 11 motions that addressed school funding at NAHT’s annual conference earlier this year were specifically about funding for children with SEND.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of NAHT, said, ‘The picture facing schools supporting children with special educational needs is bleak. Not only are school budgets at breaking point, there have been severe cuts to local authority health and social care provision.

‘Schools are left struggling to meet the needs of our most vulnerable pupils.’

Earlier this week Ofsted chief Amanda Spielman used her speech launching the inspectorate's annual report to highlight how children with SEND were missing out on support throughout England.

NAHT’s recent ‘Empty Promises’report found that 94 per cent of schools are finding it harder to resource the support required to meet the needs of pupils with SEND than they did two years ago.

Anonymous comments shared by schools with the NAHT highlight widespread concern about SEND funding.

One said, 'The most vulnerable children are increasingly taking the largest hit; this is totally and utterly morally reprehensible. The Government need to wake-up and urgently halt the long-term damaged being caused by a lack of funding.'

Another school said, 'We are a special school – we have been massively hit by funding issues. It's getting perilously close to risk assessment and safety issues if staffing continues to be cut.'

The report also found that:

  • 73 per cent of school leaders said they are less able to support children with SEN as they have been forced to reduce the number of teaching assistants and pastoral staff due to cuts in mainstream education funding
  • 70 per cent said cuts to health and social care budgets had an impact
  • Only 2 per cent said the top-up funding they received was sufficient to meet individual Education Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) or statements for pupils with SEND
  • 83 per cent reported not receiving any funding from health and social care budgets to support pupils with statements or EHCPs

Carrie Grant, who is also a parent of children with SEND, said, ‘For years now policies and funding have seen school staff and parents going head to head – it’s time to turn our attention further up the food chain and get the policies and funding that will support schools, putting the lifeblood back into the teaching staff and allowing pupils to flourish, whoever they are, whatever their gift or challenge.’

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