As the new school year begins, school leaders’ union NAHT is warning that this will be the year that the impact of cuts to school budgets will really begin to have a noticeably adverse effect on children and young people.
NAHT is particularly concerned with the crisis in funding for pupils with special educational needs and disabilities. In a report to be published on Wednesday, NAHT says that only 2% of school leaders feel that the top up funding for individual Education Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) or statements for pupils with SEND is sufficient.
Paul Whiteman, NAHT general secretary said: “There must be proper recognition of the full cost of educating pupils with SEND, and we must move away from the concept of a ‘notional SEND’ budget that penalises those schools that are most inclusive. We would like to see a full review of current and future demand for high needs funding to support pupils with SEND. To avert the crisis facing schools this year, the government should provide an immediate increase in high needs funding to match current demand.”
Mr Whiteman also questioned the government’s grasp of how serious the school funding crisis has become. He said: “Since 2010 investment has fallen by 8%, whilst the number of pupils has increased by nearly a million, pushing school budgets to breaking point. All that is being offered at the moment is a scheme for schools to make greater efficiencies. The reality is that all those efficiencies have already been made.
“Our research shows that almost three-quarters of schools (71%) are expecting to have to set a deficit budget in this financial year and almost four fifths (79%) are expecting a deficit budget for 2019/20. It’s wrong to suggest that efficiencies will solve the crisis. Only new investment from the Treasury will rescue schools and young people from this incredibly bleak picture.”
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