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Wed, 06 Jul 22 11:59

Comment: SEND pressures

Matt Dunkley, Chair of the ADCS Resources and Sustainability Policy Committee, said:

“ADCS absolutely supports the underpinning aims of the SEND reforms which rightly raised expectations and extended support from birth to 25 years. However, sufficient funding has not been made available to reflect the increased cohort and complexity of children and young people we are now supporting. Moreover, the number of learners with education, health and care plans has increased each year since 2014. There are several perverse incentives in the system, from falling resources to an accountability system that prioritises academic attainment above inclusion which has resulted in some schools feeling unable to support pupils with additional needs, driving the increased use of costlier specialist provision, typically outside of the state sector because there simply aren’t the school places required.

“These figures should come as no surprise given the SEND funding gap is estimated to be £800 million this year, rising to £1.6 billion by 2021. Local authorities need flexibility to transfer money from the different pots of school funding and to utilise their reserves to address this overspend, but it is unsustainable. The Chancellor recently announced £700 million for SEND services which will relieve some of the pressures on the high needs block, but funding alone will not solve the systemic challenges we now face in meeting our statutory duties. Local authorities were never funded to meet our expanded duties towards 19-25 year olds for example.

“ADCS will engage fully with the SEND review and relevant stakeholders so that collectively we can make the changes needed to realise the potential of the reforms and ensure that no child is left behind.”


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