Government promises £350 million SEND funding boost
Schools are to receive £350 million of additional funding to provide support for pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), the government has announced.
Under the new plans, councils will get £125 million for the current academic year, with an additional £125 million to follow in 2019-2020 for maintained schools and academies.
A further £100 million in capital funding will aid the development of more specialist places in mainstream and special schools.
The funding is viewed as a welcome boost for schools, with the Department for Education saying it will finance “additional teaching and other support” for those with highly complex needs.
“We recognise that the high needs budget faces significant pressures and this additional investment will help local councils to manage those pressures, whilst being able to invest to provide more support,” said education secretary Damian Hinds.
Despite this, council leaders have said a longer-term funding plan is needed to cover some of the financial shortcomings in the education sector.
The number of pupils with SEND has increased by 21% in the last three years, placing pressure on school budgets that had not predicted, or accounted for, such a rise.
General secretary of the NAHT school leaders’ union, Paul Whiteman, has described the financial boost as a “step in the right direction”.
However, he also warned that the DfE is “publicly acknowledging that the burden of SEND support sits unduly on education in the absence of funded support from local authorities” and that the current situation is “unsustainable” for most schools.
The government has also said it will work to increase the number of educational psychologists that are trained annually from 160 to 206.
This will help to meet the rising demand for support services, although the new training rounds will not be in place prior to September 2020.
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