Vulnerable Yorkshire pupils ‘are missing out’

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Yorkshire is failing to get the increases in funding it needs to meet the requirements of some of the region’s most vulnerable pupils – and is missing out more than anywhere else in the country, headteachers have warned.

As a result of the way the Government is introducing funding reforms, pupils with special educational needs and disability (SEND) are to miss out on millions of pounds, The Yorkshire Post can reveal.

The “high needs” money for pupils with SEND would have been distributed to schools across 52 local authorities as part of the money they were due under the Government’s new national funding formula, which will be introduced next year.

But the increases will instead be capped at three per cent because the Department for Education (DfE) says that it needs to keep the introduction of the funding system “affordable”.

Valentine Mulholland, head of policy at the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), said the biggest worry was that some of the local authorities that faced the greatest challenges were missing out the most. She said: “There are a lot of urban areas in Yorkshire that should be given quite a lot of funding, but they won’t be able to receive this because of the cap on what you can gain. In some way they are going to have to manage the demand they have for pupils with SEND.

“The Government has introduced a cap because it hasn’t got enough money to give the local authorities what they need, but the truth is we need more funding for these pupils.”

Data reveals that Sheffield should be given 18 per cent more, but will receive just six per cent over the next two years, while Barnsley should receive 14 per cent more but will also be handed just six per cent. Kirklees would have received a 20.9 per cent funding boost if it were not for the cap, which reduces its allocation by £5.9m. And schools in Leeds are losing out on more than £7 million. Councillor Lisa Mulherin, executive member for children and families at Leeds City Council, said the authority “really needs the increase Leeds should have been given to be able to deliver the services we want to offer to children”.

Ms Mulholland said: “The Government has done a good job to get a formula that says ‘this is how much money should be given to local authorities depending on the needs they should have’, but they have not put enough money in to meet that need.

“Across the country the region that should be gaining the most is Yorkshire, but because of the cap local authorities can’t get that.

“Yorkshire is failing to get the increases it needs to meet the needs of pupils with special educational needs – and is missing out more than any other area.”

The DfE had not responded to a request for comment last night.

Funding crisis: Page 6; Comment: Page 16.