Schools in Warwickshire face £9m funding shortfall in special educational needs budget

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Schools in Warwickshire face a £9 million funding shortfall in their special educational needs budget, according to the country’s largest education union.

The Government said it had increased funding since 2015, from £5 billion to £6.3 billion, following demonstrations by parents of children with special educational needs in May.

But the National Education Union says this does not take into account the increase in pupils that schools have to provide for, estimating they now face a funding shortfall of at least £1.2 billion.

Children and young people aged up to 25 who are assessed as having special educational needs are given an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan by their local authority.

In January 2015, there were 2,785 youngsters in Warwickshire with either an EHC plan or their predecessors, which were known as statements of special educational needs.

The budget for high needs pupils in 2015-16 stood at £57.4 million in today’s terms, adjusted for inflation – the equivalent of £21,044 per pupil.

In 2018-19, the budget had only increased by four per cent, but the number of pupils needing support had gone up by 26 per cent, to 3,509.

The NEU estimates this meant a real-terms cut of £2,774 in per-pupil funding – the equivalent of £9.1 million for the 2018-19 year.

Since then, the number of children with an EHC plan has gone up by ten per cent, reaching 3,848 in January 2019.

Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the NEU, said: “This is clearly a crisis, with pupils and parents bearing the brunt of real-terms funding cuts and the wholly inadequate planning by Government.

“Thousands of children and young people are missing out on the education they need and deserve, causing misery and worry among families struggling to get support for their children.”

The Government said funding for high needs pupils was a priority.