Hinds announces extra £350m for pupils with SEND

Additional funding unveiled by the education secretary 'isn't enough', say heads

Town hall bosses warn schools are facing a SEND funding crisis

The government has announced that pupils with special educational needs and disabilities are to receive an extra £350 million in funding.

The education secretary Damian Hinds revealed that councils will receive an additional £250 million over the next two years on top of the existing high needs budget, to provide support for children and young people with complex SEND.

An extra £100 million investment has been allocated to create more specialist places in mainstream schools, colleges and special schools, to give families greater choice.

However heads and council leaders have warned the extra cash will not be sufficient. 

The Department for Education said more special free schools will also get the green light, with all high quality bids in the current round of special and alternative provision free schools applications getting approval.

Mr Hinds said: "Being a parent, we all want the very best for our children. We want them to attend a school that supports them to thrive, go on to higher or further education or training, find a job that’s right for them, and to live happy and fulfilled lives.

"For children with special educational needs this is no different. It is important that they have the right support in place at school – whether that is in a mainstream setting, with additional support, or in a special school.

"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.

"Every school or college should be one for a young person with special educational needs; every teacher should be equipped to teach them, and families need to feel supported."

The government said it would train more educational psychologists, who are responsible for assessing children’s needs and providing tailored support as part of the education, health and care needs assessment process.

From September 2020 there will be a further three training rounds and an increase in the number of trainees from 160 to at least 206, to help keep up with demand.

A new advisory SEND system leadership board will also be set up to encourage local authority education services to work more closely with health and social care.

The Ofsted chief inspector, Amanda Spielman, said: "I welcome today’s announcement from the DfE, which is good news for children with SEND and their families.

"Our inspections show that we still have a long way to go before children and young people with SEND are getting all the support they deserve. In too many local areas, the implementation of the 2014 SEND reforms is not living up to expectations."

The Association of School and College Leaders welcomed the extra funding, but warned that it would be insufficient.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of ASCL, said: “The education secretary’s announcement is a welcome acknowledgement of the crisis in funding for the children who most need our help.

"We have to do better for these young people. The system for providing them with the support they desperately need is at breaking point and this is neither sustainable nor acceptable."

Mr Barton added: “This extra money isn’t enough to fully address the shortfall in funding for children with special educational needs but it is a step in the right direction, and we hope it paves the way for a realistic settlement in next year’s government spending review.”

Council chiefs are also warning the money will fall short.

According to a story in today's Observer, the Local Government Association estimates there could be gap of £1.6bn in SEND funding by 2020-21.

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