The Government is to invest millions to create more school places and improve facilities for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).
A £215m funding boost to transform the lives of thousands of children with special educational needs and disabilities, by increasing school capacity and making it easier for them to access good school places, has been announced by Edward Timpson, Minister for Vulnerable Children and Families.
Every local council’s allocation is at least £500,000 to enable them to expand and improve their special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) provision, with more than half receiving at least £1m.
Councils will be free to invest the funding as they see fit to help children and young people with education, health and care plans to get a high-quality education.
The investment can used in mainstream schools, including:
- free schools,
- grammar schools,
- special units,
- special schools,
- early years settings,
- further education colleges,
- other provision for children and young people aged from 0 to 25.
It could be used, for example, to build new specialised classrooms for children with emotional, social and mental health difficulties, expand existing classrooms to increase their size for those using mobility aids, purchase mobility equipment and even create new storage facilities for wheelchairs.
Minister for Vulnerable Children and Families, Edward Timpson, said, ‘This Government is determined to build a country that works for everyone – a country where every child has an equal opportunity to reach their full potential regardless of their background, and any challenges they may face.
‘We’ve already made the biggest changes for pupils with special educational needs and disabilities in a generation, but we want to go further and build on that success.
‘Our multi-million pound investment will enable local councils to build new classrooms and improve facilities for pupils, ensuring that no child is left behind.’
Councils will be expected to consult with local parents, carers, schools, and others on how their funding should be used. They will be required to publish a short plan showing how they will spend the funding.
This new fund follows the £23m that has already been recently allocated to local authorities to support them to review their provision for children and young people with SEN and disabilities and make strategic plans to get the best outcomes.
Responding to announcement, Cllr Richard Watts, Chair of the Local Government Association’s Children and Young People Board, said, ‘This new money is a step in the right direction a time when the demand for support from parents and families with SEND is rising. The original SEND reform programme was significantly underfunded by the DfE and we’re pleased that the Government has listened to our concerns.
‘However, it’s unclear how this one-off payment links with the DfE’s proposed changes to high-needs funding. This will reduce council and school flexibility to make additional funding available where there are rising demands for SEND support.’
More information on the Government’s SEND policies is available here.