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Exclusive: SEND pupils missing out on more than £100m due to funding 'cap'

The government's plans will reduce 'high needs' cash in 52 local authorities, TES analysis reveals

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The government's plans will reduce 'high needs' cash in 52 local authorities, TES analysis reveals

Pupils with complex special educational needs and disability are to miss out on £124 million of extra money, because of the way the government is introducing funding reforms, TES can reveal.

The “high needs” cash for pupils with SEND would have been distributed to schools across 52 local authorities as part of the money they were due under a new government national funding formula. It would have led to double-digit funding increases for 15 areas, a TES analysis shows.

But the increases will instead be capped at 3 per cent because the Department for Education says that it needs to keep the introduction of the funding system “affordable”.

All but one of these 15 local authorities has higher than average deprivation levels, and six are among the 20 most deprived areas in the country.

'Vulnerable children lose out'

Valentine Mulholland, head of policy at the NAHT headteachers’ union, said: “What worries us most is that it is some of the local authorities facing the greatest challenges that are missing out the most.

“And, of course, it’s not the local authorities missing out but the most vulnerable children in their schools and academies.”

Nottingham would have received a 20.5 per cent funding boost if it were not for the cap, which reduces its allocation by £5 million. And schools in Leeds are losing out on more than £7 million.

Jane Pepa, interim deputy headteacher and SEND coordinator at New Heights High School in Liverpool – in an area that is losing more than £5 million because of the cap – said: “There seems to be nothing ‘fair’ about [the formula].”

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A DfE spokesperson: “Our proposals will end the historic postcode lottery in school and high needs funding. This will help to create a system that funds schools according to the needs of their pupils rather than where they live and will mean extra funding for the more deprived areas.

“We are consulting on the high needs formula, for introduction in 2018, and would welcome responses by 22 March. We are proposing high needs funding gains of up to 3 per cent a year for the 72 authorities due to gain. At the same time no authority will lose funding because of the 0 per cent funding floor.”

@CharlotteSantry

This is an edited article from the 20 January edition of TES. Subscribers can read the full article here. This week's TES magazine is available in all good newsagents. To download the digital edition, Android users can click here and iOS users can click here

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