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Debate amongst MPs about funding must give Treasury pause for thought, say school leaders

Today (Tuesday 12 Feb), MPs will be debating the issues of funding for pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

The cross-party Education Select Committee continues its evidence sessions on SEND funding, whilst Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable has secured a debate on the same issue.

This comes as NAHT’s own research shows that MP’s attitudes are shifting, and the majority of them agree that there is a funding crisis in schools.

NAHT’s recent Empty Promises report showed that 94% of schools are finding it harder to resource the support required to meet the needs of pupils with SEND than they did two years ago.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said: “School funding is becoming a cross-party issue and it's encouraging to see so much Parliamentary time being dedicated to it. This must give the Treasury pause for thought, at least. Unfortunately, up until now, they have remained silent.”

On SEND funding specifically, Mr Whiteman said: “The picture facing schools supporting children with special educational needs is bleak. Not only are school budgets at breaking point, there have been severe cuts to local authority health and social care provision. Schools are left struggling to meet the needs of our most vulnerable pupils.”

NAHT and ComRes surveyed 151 MPs anonymously in October and found that more than half (54%) of MPs agreed that there is a funding crisis in schools, whilst just a third (33%) disagreed that there is a funding crisis.

NAHT’s Empty Promises report also found that 73% of school leaders said they are less able to support children with SEN due to cuts to mainstream education funding, as they have been forced to reduce the number of teaching assistants and pastoral staff; and only 2% said that the top up funding they receive is sufficient to meet individual Education Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) or statements for pupils with SEND.

Anonymous feedback from NAHT members reveals the reality faced by many schools:

·         “The most vulnerable children are increasingly taking the largest hit; this is totally and utterly morally reprehensible. The government need to wake-up and urgently halt the long-term damaged being caused by a lack of funding.”

·         “Schools’ core purpose has gone beyond education – we address health and social care matters but we aren’t funded accordingly.”

·         “Lack of SEN funding is having a major impact for those of us who are particularly inclusive.”

·         “We cannot support high levels of SEND on current budgets. SEND funding is not anything like what is needed to cover high needs.”

·         “We are a special school – we have been massively hit by funding issues. It's getting perilously close to risk assessment and safety issues if staffing continues to be cut.”

·         “There are no more cuts we can make, all children are suffering but in particular our most vulnerable SEN learners as we cannot provide the support they need because we have had to cut support staff so severely.”

Press and Media contacts:

Steven George
NAHT Head of Press and Media
01444 472886
07970 907730

Rose Tremlett 
Senior Press Officer 
07545 354363

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