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SEND education in crisis as Ofsted and Observer highlight provision and budget shortfalls of over £0.5 billion

20 May 2021

Councils in England are facing a funding shortfall for education for children with Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) of over £0.5 billion.

The research, compiled by the Observer newspaper, comes at the same time as an Ofsted report highlights that children with SEND are not getting anywhere near the support they need in schools, even before any new cuts Councils may be forced to implement.

The SEND system has been in crisis since 2014, when the Children and Families Act increased the range of ages of children and young people with SEND that councils had to support – but without Government then providing the necessary money.

In the past decade, there has been a 51.6% increase in the number of children in special schools. The number of children with Education, Health and Care plans (EHCPs) has increased by 70.9% in the same time frame. There are now 390,109 children with EHCPs.

DR UK’s Head of Policy Fazilet Hadi said: “This is an educational crisis. There has been a chasm between needs and appropriate funding for years. These reports are a double whammy, with the Observer figures showing an overspend of half a billion on high needs. This isn’t taking into account the needs of pupils deemed as having fewer needs.

Children do not have their own voice in the policy system. Their needs are too often are overlooked. Every child matters. The education of every child must matter. The dearth of funding for the most critical period of development is resigning hundreds of thousands of Disabled children to a lifetime of underachievement which will end up costing government more in the long run. Government needs to put SEND on the same footing as its talk about fixing social care, and then address both, urgently.”