More than two-thirds of councils that asked to move money from schools to fund children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) have had their request approved by ministers, Tes can reveal.
Figures released by schools minister Nick Gibb show that 27 of the 38 authorities that asked to move money from mainstream schools were allowed to do so. Of the remaining councils, four had their requests partially approved and seven were turned down completely, Mr Gibb revealed in an answer to a parliamentary question.
The requests come amid rising concerns about funding for children with SEND.
Heads have warned that cuts to special needs funding are on the verge of putting the safety of pupils and staff at risk, with the headteachers' union NAHT releasing research last term that found that 94 per cent of schools are finding it harder to get funding for pupils with SEND than they did two years ago.
And health minister Caroline Dinenage told the Commons Education Committee's inquiry into the state of SEND education last week, that there was "no doubt" that funding pressures were making life "very difficult for local authorities and schools".
From 2018-19, councils have been allowed to transfer up to 0.5 per cent of “schools' block” – the main grant due to go to schools – to the "high-needs block", which is used to pay for high-needs SEND provision outside mainstream schools.
But if the councils don't have consent from their schools' forum, then they must apply to the education secretary for permission to move the money.
They must also apply for permission to transfer more than 0.5 per cent, even if their schools’ forum does consent.
The figures released in parliament show that all 22 requests to move more than 0.5 per cent of funding from the schools’ block were either approved or partially approved.
Of the 16 councils which had asked to move less than 0.5 per cent, eight were allowed to do so, one got partial approval and seven were not allowed to move the money.
The seven councils that had their requests turned down were: Bromley, Central Bedfordshire, Devon, Durham, St Helens, Waltham Forest and West Sussex.
Derby, Somerset, South Gloucestershire and Southwark had their requests partially approved.
The councils that will be able to move money from the schools block are: Bournemouth with Christchurch and Poole, Bury, Darlington, Dorset, Dudley, Enfield, Essex, Hackney, Halton, Hammersmith and Fulham, Hartlepool, Hillingdon, Kent, Hull, Middlesbrough, Norfolk, North Somerset, North Yorkshire, Oxfordshire, Richmond-upon-Thames, Rotherham, Sefton, Staffordshire, Stockton-on-Tees, Surrey, Torbay and Wiltshire.
Earlier figures obtained by Tes revealed that last term 35 authorities had asked to move money into their high needs block – 20 without the consent of their schools’ forum.
These figures were obtained through a freedom of information request and were correct on 20 December 2018. On 17 December, Damian Hinds, the education secretary, announced an extra £125 million for the high needs block in each of 2018-19 and 2019-20 and councils were asked whether they wanted to reduce or withdraw their requests.
The final figures reveal that while some councils which had requested permission to move money before the extra funding did not do so afterwards – other councils put in new requests.
The DfE has been contacted for comment.