Education sector to have say on special needs funding

Education Secretary Damian Hinds is asking local authorities, schools and colleges how the funding system for pupils with special needs and disabilities could improve.

Ina speech to the National Association of Head Teachers, Hinds will launch a Call for Evidence on the funding arrangements for pupils with complex Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) and praise the work of schools, teachers and support workers for enabling those pupils to achieve great outcomes.

As the needs of children are changing, the support that schools are providing reflects this additional complexity. It is estimated that there are now almost 120,000 pupils with Education, Health and Care Plans who are continuing their education in mainstream schools, while the number of pupils whose needs are being met in special schools has risen to over 112,000 in the last five years.

To date, more than a quarter of a million pupils with the most complex needs have benefited from personalised EHCPs since 2014, giving them the tailored support they need to excel. Finance set aside for pupils with SEND and those in alternative provision has risen from £5 billion in 2013 to over £6 billion today.

In his speech, Hind is expected to say: “Teachers change lives, we all know this, and nowhere more so than in the incredible work they do to support children with special educational needs and disabilities. They have my huge admiration and thanks for that work.

“We introduced Education, Health and Care Plans to help that work and thousands of children with the most complex needs are now receiving more tailored support to help their learning. That support needs investment and while we have already hugely increased spending in this area, I recognise that providing for additional complexities can put additional pressures on schools.

“Following this huge reform, 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.

“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. So I hope teachers and leaders will work with me to lead a system that unlocks every child’s potential.”