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New NAHT survey reveals ‘insufficient’ funding for learners with SEND


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Date 10th Sep 2021

A new survey from the National Association of Headteachers (NAHT) published in September 2021 has highlighted significant funding concerns for schools, particularly around learners with SEND.

The survey features responses collected from over 1,500 school leaders in England and reveals that England’s school children are suffering from the government’s ‘failure to invest’ through a ‘chronic underfunding’ of England’s schools.

NAHT general secretary Paul Whiteman, said:

"The government's failure to invest in schools over the past decade is forcing them to cut back on staff, support for pupils, and activities that enrich the school day. Despite all the rhetoric on additional investment in schools, it is clear that school budgets remain under enormous pressure. A far more ambitious programme of investment is required from the government if schools are going to be able to deliver the education that the current generation of pupils need and deserve."

Of the 1,500 responses collated:

  • 97% said their SEND funding, for pupils with special educational needs and disabilities, is ‘insufficient’
  • 95% said funding for children and young people with Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCP) was ‘insufficient’
  • Over 80% had to buy in speech and language therapy, educational psychologists, and other professional services
  • 79% had to fund the purchase of additional services not available, or accessible from health and social care. This number rose to 86% for for school leaders working in the Special sector

Paul Whiteman continued:

“The crisis in funding for pupils with special educational needs is clear for all to see and is putting significant pressure on school budgets. This report underlines why a comprehensive review of SEND funding, based on pupil need, is urgently needed. Changes to the way that national funding is shared between schools will not solve the problem when there is insufficient money in the system in the first place. The government needs to increase funding so that schools are able to properly meet the needs of all their pupils.”

In response to the survey findings, the NAHT call for the Government to

‘Immediately recognise and address the crisis in SEND funding. The long-awaited SEND review provides the ideal opportunity to do this and should not be delayed any further. The solution lies in a truly needs-led approach that is fully aligned with existing legislation and the code of practice, in place of the current resource-led approach that has failed to deliver adequate provision to meet the needs of significant numbers of pupils’.

Further reading

Find out more by reading ‘A failure to invest’ the full report from the NAHT.

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