Education

03.05.19

Hinds turns to headteachers for views on how to solve children’s SEND funding crisis

The education secretary has turned to headteachers, schools and local authorities for fresh views on children’s special needs funding after admitting schools are facing “knock-on-pressure” due to sky-rocketing demand.

Speaking at the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) annual conference, Damian Hinds has admitted that a fresh approach is needed to education funding for children with complex special needs in England.

He said the funding system needs to be improved and the arrangements for pupils made more effective, and has asked schools and colleges for their views on how to do so in the run up to the 2019 Spending Review.

Hinds announced the call for evidence from schools, colleges and councils, telling them “they have my huge admiration and thanks for that work” and that he wants a “better understanding” of how the system for funding is currently operating.

The NAHT general secretary, Paul Whiteman, described the current scene as “bleak” but stated that the solution is simple; “more money from the Treasury, both for schools and health and social care services.”

Hinds said government reform has meant that “thousands of children with the most complex needs are now receiving more tailored support to help their learning” but admitted that the support needs investment and that “I recognise that providing for additional complexities can put additional pressures on schools.”

“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.”

The education secretary told headteachers: “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.”

This follows a report from the National Education Union stating that councils have seen a £1.2bn real-terms drop in funding for children with special educational needs and disabilities over the last four years.

The union warned that local authorities had reached “crisis point" with nine out of 10 councils facing shortfalls of thousands of pounds.

Image credit - Victoria Jones/PA Wire/PA Images

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