SEN and Funding
A recent survey of over 1,000 school leaders found that schools are struggling to support children with SEN and disabilities. The main findings of the survey undertaken by The Key were:
- 82% of mainstream schools in England do not have sufficient funding and budget to adequately provide for pupils with SEND
- 89% of school leaders believe cuts to local authority services have had a detrimental impact on the support their school receives for pupils with SEND
- Three-quarters of schools have pupils who have been waiting longer than expected for assessment of special educational needs or an education, health and care plan
- 88% of school leaders think initial teacher training does not adequately prepare teachers to support pupils with SEND
None of this will come as a surprise to teachers and the situation looks as if it is going to get worse before there is any chance of improvement. Many local authorities are identifying overspends on SEN. One local authority we are aware of needs to find savings in excess of £3 million for this year. One of the measures being considered is a 20% cut in the SEN funding already allocated to schools. This means that schools may face having funding reduced where they have already made budget commitments. This must inevitably lead to further restructuring for schools and potential redundancies.
Some commentators blame the implementation of the new SEND framework for the underfunding and certainly this is an element. However, SEN has for too long been the Cinderalla sector of education. Children with SEN and disabilities are amongst the most vulnerable in the education system and funding needs to be found to support them properly.