Funding for special needs at crisis point

Funding for special needs at crisis point

Funding for special needs at ‘crisis point’ – school leaders warn

A survey of school leaders has suggested that funding to support pupils with special needs and disabilities is at ‘crisis point’ due to increased pressure on school budgets.

The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), which carried out the survey of its members, found that 94 per cent of respondents said they now found it harder to support such pupils, compared with two years ago.

“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 health and social care provision,” said Paul Whiteman, the NAHT’s general secretary.

“Schools are left struggling to meet the needs of our most vulnerable pupils. Without sufficient funding and a more coherent approach, the special education needs code of practice is nothing more than an empty promise from government to parents and children.”

In a report to the DfE, the union has called for a full review of high-needs funding requirements and an immediate cash injection from the Treasury.

The report provided the DfE with a number of case studies where pupils with special needs or disabilities are being let down due to lack of available funding. It included a response from one school leaders, who wrote: “A child arrived [last] September in a wheelchair with cerebral palsy. We have to provide one-to-one support and two-to-one for toileting. We have received not a penny. Applied for top-up funding, still waiting.”

Of those who responded to the survey, 83 per cent said no funding had been forthcoming from health and social care budgets to support pupils with special needs statements or individual education, health and care plans.

Around 1.28 million pupils are recognised as having special educational needs.

Mr Whiteman continued: “The financial burden of additional support penalises those mainstream schools that are the most inclusive. This is unsustainable.

“Schools are seriously struggling to fund special needs support in the face of crippling budget pressures that sees them forced to cut critical support staff. We urgently need the government to recognise the scale of the problem and to secure an immediate increase in funding from the Treasury. It is make or break time for school funding.”

Funding for special needs at crisis point