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London school leaders hold summit on crisis in special needs funding

Today (Friday 28 June 2019), school leaders, teachers and governors from across London will be joined by politicians, parents, solicitors and councils to campaign for a change to the government's unsustainable funding for children with special educational needs.

NAHT’s 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.* There has been a huge increase in demand and a corresponding lack of resources.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, 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.”

Speakers at the meeting will include broadcaster, singer and disabilities campaigner David Grant MBE, and public law and human rights solicitor, Caroline Barrett.

This 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.”

The summit is being held at Friends House, Euston, from 9.30am to 12.30pm on Friday 28 June 2019.


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

70% said that cuts to health and social care budgets have had an impact

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

83% reported not receiving ANY funding from health and social care budgets to support pupils with statements or EHCPs

Press and Media contacts:

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

Rose Tremlett 
Senior Press Officer 
07545 354363