Crisis in Special Needs funding could lead to cuts for Gloucestershire children - David calls for fairness
A crunch meeting on Thursday could see school funds reduced for almost every student in Gloucestershire because of the crisis in funding for children with special educational needs.
David Drew MP is calling for schools to receive fair funding and for the Government and Gloucestershire County Council to honour its commitment to provide a minimum of £4,800 per secondary school pupil.
But a meeting on Thursday will see schools’ representatives forced to decide whether to cut funding for all children in a desperate bid to help support those with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND).
“The cuts have gone too far, and now the proposals by Gloucestershire County Council will cut funding further. Redundancies and a reduced curriculum will be inevitable if this proposal goes ahead,” said Mr Drew, Labour MP for Stroud.
“Schools representatives are now faced with an appalling choice, whether to reduce funding for all children in order to support those who need extra help. They should never have been put in this position.”
Mr Drew, Labour MP for Stroud, has met with secondary and primary school headteachers from across his constituency ahead of Thursday’s meeting.
“Headteachers are very concerned. They have planned and budgeted assuming that they would get the government’s promised £4,800 per pupil next year. But now it looks like that won’t be the case. As one headteacher said to me ‘this is pulling the rug from under us,” he said.
“This is failing to provide adequate funding for children who require extra support and, at the same time, is affecting schools’ ability to educate other pupils.”
Gloucestershire County Council has overspent its budget to support children with SEND by £3.2 million.
Now it is proposing transferring £1.7million from school funding to pay off that deficit.
Gloucestershire Schools Forum will decide whether to approve that proposal at a meeting at Shire Hall on Thursday.
If the transfer goes ahead it reduces the minimum funding per pupil to £4,641, rather than the Government’s pledge of a minimum of £4,800 per pupil.
For a secondary school with 1,200 pupils that means a budget cut of almost £200,000.
“This proposal means that the promise of £4,800 will not materialise for Stroud secondary school pupils, or for children in the rest of the county. It is a ‘sticking plaster’ over the crisis in special educational needs funding. It makes a mockery of the Government’s pledge to introduce ‘fair funding’ and even to give schools ‘little extras’. There will be no ‘extras’ for Gloucestershire children.”
If the Schools Forum rejects the proposal, GCC can still ask the Government to approve the move.