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Further evidence that schools and councils are struggling with high needs funding*

by danielbarker on 12 February, 2019

This week, a High Court ruling provided further evidence that councils and schools are struggling to meet the needs of high needs pupils due to funding restraints.

A school has won a High Court ruling against a local authority which may have a significant impact on how LAs manage Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) going forward. The LA was found to have placed a child with significant special educational needs and disability (SEND) requirements into a school that was deemed to be unsuitable. The child in question previously attended a mainstream school in a different LA which accommodated their communication and sensory requirements. The school chosen to enrol the pupil into felt that it was not equipped to meet the pupils’ needs, with the LA then subsequently amending the EHCP, including dropping many of the previous provisions for the child. Furthermore, although the school requested an extra £40,000 in funding, just over half the amount was offered. After the schools appeal to the secretary of state was rejected, the High Court subsequently ruled that the selected school was likely unsuitable.

In addition this week, Tes has obtained figures from the Department of Education (DfE) under a freedom of information request which further highlighted the impact of the current funding crisis in schools. It was found that 20 councils had approached the DfE to transfer funding from the “schools block” to the “high needs” block in order to pay for special educational needs and disability (SEND) provisions. Tes also report that, in the councils concerned, the LA schools’ forums’ were against the move.

Both of these stories reflect the current pressures on the high needs funding in schools, with the government recently announcing a £250 million investment over two years to help councils meet the needs of pupils with SEND. However, nearly three quarters of respondents to the School Governance in 2018 survey stated that high needs funding is insufficient and the Local Government Association (LGA) has previously projected a £536 million shortfall in funding for SEND support for 2018-19.

*National Governance Association Newsletter article

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