Schools in England must cut support for pupils with special needs | schools

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Scarce schools in England have been forced to cut support for students with special educational needs and disabilities (Send) after nearly a third of school principals cut their budgets last year, a survey shows.

Almost all principals surveyed (97%) said funds were inadequate for Send students, and 95% said funds were also inadequate for those with education, health and care plans in greater need, in response to a survey of school principals. Union, the federal association of school principals.

Four-fifths said they had been forced to purchase additional services, including speech and language therapy, educational psychologists and psychological support, which local councils would often have provided more cheaply before austerity.

A headmistress at an elementary school in Staffordshire said that in determining how much support should be available for Send students, she had to “weigh the needs of a child against the needs of a class of children,” a calculation that is becoming increasingly difficult da After the reforms in 2014, more children with complex needs were entitled to additional support.

Nearly a third of the 1,500 minds in England who took part in the survey said they were forced to cut their overall budgets in 2020-21, and 35% said they would make further cuts this academic year. One in four projected that their budget would run a deficit in 2021-22.

This has led to staff and salary cuts, mental health and health promotion for students, and additional activities such as school trips, according to the leaders.

A headmistress at an elementary school in Berkshire said her school could no longer hire dispatching coordinators and could only afford teaching assistants to support a small number of students with the greatest needs. “Special needs are beyond crises in schools; it sucks the money out of the budget,” she said.

NAHT General Secretary Paul Whiteman said: “The crisis in funding for students with special educational needs is visible to all and is putting significant pressure on school budgets.”

He said the upcoming Send review should be published as soon as possible, paving the way for schools to get additional funding, rather than simply changing the way the existing budget is split between schools, which “is the problem.” will not solve “.

James Bowen, NAHT policy director, said schools are struggling to afford Send because the government has failed to provide adequate funding to the new system. “The increased demand and lack of funding has created a huge gap between what schools expect and the resources they get,” he said.

He added: “The government has recognized that there is a real crisis in the funding of Send and a review is ongoing, but at this point we have seen little progress.”

Cllr Anntoinette Bramble, chair of the local government association’s Children & Young People Board, said the review should provide long-term funding to councils and schools for children with Send and give councils the power to hold education and health partners accountable when they can Do not identify children with Send.

Last week the Institute for Fiscal Studies released a report showing that government spending on schools has still not returned to pre-austerity levels and the need for a post-pandemic recovery.

Kate Green MP, shadow education secretary for Labor, said conservative cuts are forcing schools “to cut support and enriching after-school activities for students, affect life opportunities and hold children back.”

An Education Department spokesman said: “This government is providing the largest increase in school funding in a decade – totaling £ 14 billion in the three years to 2022-23. This is a £ 7.1 billion increase in funding for schools compared to 2019-20 funding.

“Next year the funding will increase by a total of 3.2% and by 9.6% in 2022-23 for high demand. The National Funding Formula continues to distribute this fairly based on the needs of the schools and their student cohorts. “

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