It’s time to deliver a better future of SEND funding
By Natalie Kenneison, Chief Operating Officer at Imosphere
For children and young people with Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities (SEND), the effects of the pandemic have impacted both their care and education. Many services that families relied on, such as therapies and or daytime short break services were unavailable and those that were still open, offered fewer places in order to meet social distancing guidelines.
Support for SEND
The £1.4bn announced for education recovery works has been hugely disappointing. The package breaks down to the equivalent of £50 extra per pupil per year and will largely be spent on tutoring to make up for lost learning. There should be more in the way of extra resources, to help make up for lost holiday clubs and extra-curricular activities where children, especially those with SEND, are able to boost their broader social skills and utilise these skills in different contexts. Without ringfencing funds and resources for children and young people with SEND, there is a fear that this additional funding could be swallowed up into aspects such as supply cover for when teachers are required to self-isolate.
A need for long-term funding
For local authorities, this puts added pressure on their children’s services, which will see an influx of schools pushing for amends to education, health and care (EHC) plans. Case worker responsibilities include creating brand new EHC plans as well as managing and reviewing existing plans where the child or young person’s needs have changed considerably. Although the DfE has announced a funding boost for local authorities to support children with SEND, this is intended to be used by councils to create new places in schools, academies, colleges and early years settings.
What it doesn’t consider is the staffing numbers and resources required to ensure EHC plans are accurate, up to date and tracking outcomes within the local authority itself. Schools and local authorities should have tools in place that can demonstrate a change in need. One that captures the needs of that child or young person, allocates top-up funding fairly and accurately and can monitor changes in need over time.
Life after lockdown
The pandemic has disrupted education for all students, but it’s also opened up the disadvantage gap between children with EHC plans and their peers. We mustn’t lose sight of the disparities highlighted over the last 16-months! Now more than ever there is a need for a wider conversation around how local authorities, schools and third sector providers can work together and fund the delivery of better outcomes for children with SEND.