Newham education chief slams government funding for ‘most vulnerable’ pupils

Cllr Julianne Marriott talks to Romanian students on a visit to Rokeby School in September 2018. Pic

Cllr Julianne Marriott talks to Romanian students on a visit to Rokeby School in September 2018. Picture: Ken Mears - Credit: Archant

The council chief responsible for education has slammed the government over how it funds education for the “most vulnerable”.

Newham Council is proposing to change how it allocates money to mainstream schools to support pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) as it anticipates an overspend of more than £8million.

Cllr Julianne Marriott, cabinet member for education, said: "What our young people really need is for government to properly fund their needs and to act on the recommendations of the education select committee which found that local authorities have been 'set up to fail' by government."

A Department for Education (DfE) spokeswoman said: "No child should be held back from reaching their potential. Our SEND review will look at how we can improve the support children and young people with SEND currently receive so the system works for everyone, in every part of the country."

Cllr Marriott made the comment while launching a consultation on how the council can "better allocate" the government money it gets for the borough's "most vulnerable" youngsters.

The government provides funding for pupils in Newham with the highest special educational needs and disabilities.

The council expects to overspend on its high needs block - the pot of money that funds pupils with SEND - by £8.2m by the end of this financial year. This means that the Department of Education will order Newham to provide a budget recovery plan.

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The National Audit Office reports that eight out of 10 local authorities overspent their schools high needs budgets in the year 2017-18.

The council has provided an extra £1.3m this financial year and for the following two years but the funding is still dependent on a grant provided by the Department for Education.

The town hall says changes are needed to ensure a better match between the individual needs of SEND children and the funding schools get, and to reduce the amount of overspend.

The DfE spokeswoman said: "We are increasing high needs funding for local authorities by £780million next year, boosting the total budget for supporting those with the most complex needs to more than £7billion in 2020-21."

The proposal only relates to pupils with high level SEND going to mainstream schools in the borough and does not affect pupils in special schools, resource provisions in mainstream schools and pupils attending schools outside Newham.

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