4 December 2013

Although most mainstream schools wish to be inclusive, the new funding rules for special educational needs (SEN) introduced in April 2013 mean that schools have to find the first £6000 of funding from their overall SEN budget, whereas before additional funds would have been available from the local authority.

Although the new funding arrangements seem to be based on the assumption that children with statements are evenly spread across the education system, some schools have a larger proportion of these children than average.

This situation has led campaigners to suggest that children with SEN may end up being excluded from mainstream schools.

Jane McConnell, Chief Executive of the Independent Specialist Parental Advice charity, called the rules an “absolute mess” and explained that they are interpreted differently by different local authorities, thus adding to the confusion.

She pointed out that many Heads are not aware that it is the legal responsibility of the local authority rather than individual schools to arrange the support outlined in a child’s statement; therefore, if a school does not have the resources, the Head can ask for funding from the local authority.

The Department for Education has said that, on top of their basic per-pupil funding, all schools’ funding should allow them to meet up to £6000 of the extra costs for children with additional needs and that there is extra high-needs funding specifically for inclusive schools with high numbers of pupils with SEN.