In a speech an the annual conference of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) in Telford today (3 May), education secretary Damian Hinds will launch a call for evidence on how to make funding arrangements for pupils with complex special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) more effective ahead of the spending review
- SEND funding shortfall in schools of £1.2bn, union claims
- Rise in children with SEN in private nurseries
He will also praise the work of schools, teachers and support workers for enabling these children to achieve great outcomes.
According to the Department for Education, there are now almost 120,000 pupils with Education Health and Care Plans (EHC) in mainstream schools and over 112,000 in special schools.
The call for evidence will launch today and run until 31 July.
The education secretary is expected to say, ‘Teachers change lives, we all know this, and nowhere more so than in the incredible work they do to support children with special educational needs and disabilities. They have my huge admiration and thanks for that work.
‘We introduced Education, Health and Care Plans to help that work and thousands of children with the most complex needs are now receiving more tailored support to help their learning. That support needs investment and while we have already hugely increased spending in this area, I recognise that providing for additional complexities can put additional pressures on schools.
‘Following this huge reform, I want to make sure we have the best understanding of how our system for funding children with high needs is operating on the ground – and whether there are improvements we can make so every pound of public money we spend is building opportunities for young people.
‘I’ve made clear that I will back head teachers to have the resources they need to provide the best education possible for every child – that ambition is no different for children with SEND, nor should it be. So I hope teachers and leaders will work with me to lead a system that unlocks every child’s potential.’
He will go on to say, ‘The department will now work with all those involved in the SEND system to hear directly about how it can work better to improve outcomes for young people and whether funding could be distributed more effectively.’
Paul Whiteman, general secretary of NAHT, the union which represents leaders in the majority of schools, 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.
‘We absolutely welcome the secretary of state’s focus on this issue; the overall funding crisis cannot be solved without getting to grips with SEN support. A call for evidence is welcome, as the issue is complex, but ultimately the solution is simple: more money from the Treasury is urgently needed, both for schools and health and social care services.’
The National Education Union (NEU) acccused the Government of being 'out of touch' with the reality of the SEND funding crisis in schools.
Assistant general secretary Rosamund McNeil said, 'For too long, children with SEND have been disgracefully let down by this Government. This Ministerial review of SEND funding must prove to be a real step towards providing funding levels that allow SEND students to flourish.
'It is time for Government to acknowledge that the number of children and young people with severe and complex needs has risen by a third since 2015, while funding for the High Needs sector has only increased by 7 per cent. This funding shortfall has led to pupils with SEND missing out on £1.2billion of specialist provision.
'Teachers, parents, heads and support staff have shown a united front in their campaign for proper SEND funding to enable quality education – it is time for Government to listen.'