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Comment on 2022/23 SEND funding allocations

Commenting on the uplift in SEND funding from 2022/23, Matt Dunkley, Chair of the ADCS Resources and Sustainability Policy Committee, said:

“The government’s SEND reforms in 2014 were ambitious, and rightly so, raising expectations and extending the entitlement of support from birth up to 25 years. Several years on, there is growing frustration and record levels of parental dissatisfaction, despite record spending. There are too many perverse incentives against inclusion in mainstream schools and towards increased specialist provision in the way the reforms have turned out on the ground. The government now must face a stark choice of either reforming the reforms, or dramatically increasing funding even further to achieve the intended aims. In this context, it is disappointing that the government’s SEND review, which began in 2019, has yet to conclude.

“This latest uplift in funding to support learners with special educational needs and disabilities is welcome, but by itself it will not address the systemic challenges we now face in the delivery of our statutory duties, particularly in relation to the growing cohort of 19 – 25-year-olds requiring education, health and care plans. This has resulted in unsustainable growth in high needs funding deficits, which distort school spending and could fundamentally threaten the financial stability of local authorities when the accounting rules change in 2023.

“Local authorities, schools, and health commissioners are facing a perfect storm of increased parental demand for high-cost specialist placements, often backed by the SEND Tribunal, insufficient capital funding for new maintained special school places, growing reliance on the costly independent and non-maintained schools, shortages of education psychologists, special educational needs teachers, occupational therapists and specialist mental health provision.

“The DfE and Ofsted have been keen to closely monitor local authorities’ progress against the ambitions of the 2014 reforms. However, from our perspective, government departments and agencies have, at times, overlooked their own role in facilitating change. What is certain, is that we cannot carry on as we are, and that sentiment unites all stakeholders in the system.”


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