Special Educational Needs funding “facing a hidden crisis” – Deputy Mayor

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Cllr Anntoinette Bramble. Credit: Hackney Council

The council has suspended planned changes to special educational needs funding after concerned parents said they feared the new plans would erode support for pupils with less severe special needs.  

They have instead opted to hold a round-table discussion with parents concerned about funding arrangements.

SEND (special educational needs and disability) funding in the borough was facing “a hidden crisis,” Deputy Mayor Antoinette Bramble warned at Hackney Council Cabinet meeting on Monday, where the decision was taken to hold off on the changes.

“tHE PROPOSALS will ERODE support for pupils who do not have such severe needs”

SEND budgets in the borough have seen a shortfall over the last two years. Hackney Council has so far bridged the gaps, by spending an estimated £6 million on special educational services, but they say that the current model is no longer sustainable.

They have had to make changes to budgets following a 45 per cent drop in funding from the government from 2010 to 2020.

“There is a hidden crisis around SEND and its lack of funding,” said Bramble.

80 per cent OF PEOPLE disagreed with plans to introduce additional funding

The proposed changes will include the introduction of Additional Funding (AF) arrangements. AF means that parents or carers can apply for funding to assist with the educational needs of their children.

After holding a consultation on the proposed plans between October and December 2017, Hackney Council Cabinet agreed to scrap the unpopular plans at their meeting on Monday.

They acknowledged that there had been “some misunderstandings” in the process so far and admitted that “parents did not like the language that had been used in the proposals”.

“We suspect that parents will say that they do not want any change, which is not possible at this moment in time. We will be going forward with a co-productive model, with parents and carers involved in a round table discussion in an attempt to resolve the issues,” said Bramble.

“parents did not like the language that had been used in the proposals”

Of the 1,500 residents surveyed, more than 80 per cent disagreed with the Council’s plans to introduce the additional funding model.

One resident said: “I am very concerned about the proposals and feel that they will lead to an erosion of both funding and support for pupils who do not have such severe needs.

“It is a huge mistake to do away with these. Children with SEND and their families will suffer as a result.”