Funding for pupils with special educational needs drops 17%

The report by the thinktank IPPR North also revealed the north had been worst affected, with cuts of 22% per pupil. Researchers found government spending on support for children and young people with the most complex special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) had failed to keep pace with rising demand, resulting in a reduction in funds available per pupil.The report also found that cuts to education and local government budgets had led to a dramatic reduction in support for children with less complex needs and had increased demand for more intensive support.

Since 2015, government funding through the “high needs block” has increased by 11% across England, but demand has increased by 35%. In the north funding has increased by 8% but the number eligible for support has increased by 39%.

The report’s author, Jack Hunter, pointed to the low employment rates among people with learning disabilities as a sign children with complex needs were not receiving adequate support to prepare them for adulthood. 

It comes after more than 1,000 councillors in England wrote to the education secretary, Damian Hinds, urging the government to give schools billions of pounds in extra funding. In the letter, overseen by the National Education Union’s councillor network, councillors urge the government to end spending cuts and increase SEND funding.

Hunter said: “This is a moral failure but it is also a failure to recognise the economic benefits of upfront investment in young people’s futures. For example, supporting one person with a learning disability into employment could increase their income by between 55% and 95%, and reduce lifetime costs to the taxpayer by at least £170,000.”

Kevin Courtney, the joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said support for children and young people with SEND was “woefully inadequate”.