TAs and pastoral staff

Funding for special education needs (SEND) students reaches crisis point, following the “severe cuts to health and social care provision,” general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), Paul Whiteman, warns.

According to a survey led by NAHT, more than 90 per cent of respondents said that the shortage of resources, coupled with further cuts, have made it harder to support such pupils than it was two years ago.

The lack of government grant meant that schools have had to stretch their already tight budget to provide care for students with special needs.

Due to this, schools have taken extra measures by reducing the number of teaching assistants and pastoral staff, who made an impact to the learning experience of such pupils.

Mr Whiteman fears that “the picture facing schools supporting children with special education needs is bleak.”

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

Voicing his concerns, Mr Whiteman said that “one million of the recognised 1.28m children with SEND” are yet to receive sufficient funding for their school.

He added: “That means that the financial burden of additional support penalises those mainstream schools that are most inclusive. This is unsustainable.”

A new report, citing the survey, found that a shocking 83 per cent of respondents had not received any funding from health and social care budgets to provide aid for SEND pupils with statements, education, health and care plans (EHCPs).

While 30 per cent claimed that services from the health and social care to support pupils had also not been received.

The teaching union concluded the report by urging the Department of Education to review the collective demand for high-needs funding, and secure extra money from the Treasury.

One school leader told the union: “A child arrived in 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 eight months later.”

Children and families minister, Nadine Zahawi, said: “We have undertaken the biggest special educational needs reforms in a generation, including the introduction of Education Health and Care plans, so that support is tailored to the needs of individuals and families are put at the heart of the process.

“We recognise that there is increasing pressure on schools and on high needs budgets, which is exactly why funding is rising to meet this.

“Core schools funding is increasing to £43.5 billion by 2020 – that’s 50 per cent more per pupil in real terms than in 2000 – and within that total the high needs budget is £6 billion this year, the highest on record.”

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