Warning over cuts to special needs unit funding

NAHT's Russell Hobby. Photo: Chris Ison/PA Wire
NAHT's Russell Hobby. Photo: Chris Ison/PA Wire
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HEADTEACHERS and school business managers are warning Ministers that funding cuts could cause special educational needs units at mainstream schools to close.

The National Association of Head Teachers and the National Association of School Business Managers have voiced concerns in their response to a Government consultations on school funding.

They have criticised plans to reduce “per place funding” for mainstream schools with special units from £10,000 to £6,000.

The Department for Education (DfE) is consulting on both its plans to create a new national funding formula for all schools and on funding proposals for pupils with higher special education needs.

The NAHT and and NASBM have welcomed the commitment to create a national system which closes big discrepancies in state school funding in different parts of the country.

Currently schools in the ten best funded areas of the country receive £2,000 more per pupil than those in the worst funded areas. The DfE is now set to address this. However the NAHT’s general secretary Russell Hobby and the NASBM have voiced concerns that big variations in special educational needs (SEN) funding could still exist. In their response to the Government consultation on high SEN they said: “Our key concern is that the proposals only deal with how local authorities are funded at a national level. They fail to address the key issue of inconsistent approaches to top up funding, which mean that a child with the same needs can attract £2,000 of education funding in one local authority but £20,000 in another.

“This is clearly unacceptable and the DfE needs to develop parameters and controls to ensure that funding is fairly distributed within local authorities.

It adds: “We are strongly opposed to plans to reduce per place funding for mainstream schools with special units from £10,000 to £6,000.

“Such a move would be disastrous for such units, leading to potential closures.”