Penalised for being inclusive: Stroud schools forced to 'play off' the needs of children against each other
In a report which appeared in the Stroud edition of the Citizen on September 6, Stroud headteachers say they have no choice but to ‘play off the needs of children against each other.’
The Citizen’s report states:
“Schools in the Stroud district started a new academic year amid growing concerns over the lack of funding for pupils with special needs.
“Andrew Harris, headteacher at Katharine Lady Berkley, Wotton-under-Edge, said staff were being forced to ‘play off one child’s need against another’ because of the dwindling budget.
“It places tremendous pressure on the school not being able to provide the support at the level we would like,” he said.
And he added: ”The percentage of children with additional needs is small at KLB but nevertheless, it is increasing.
“When the cost of a teaching assistant is £20,000 and we only receive £10,000 from the Government, the school has to subsidise that cost.”
And it seems that KLB is not alone. At Thomas Keble School, headteacher Julia Maunder faces a difficult funding juggling act. She says the proportion of pupils with additional and medical and learning needs is also increasing as funding is shrinking.
Ms Maunder told The Citizen:
“Our cohort has risen from three per centre three years ago to just under six per cent from September 2018, “ she said.
“We have a higher proportion of children with ECHUPs due to our reputation for excellence in this area, however most non-selective schools are seeing an increase.
She added: “The financial situation in the future does concern us hugely. Students with additional needs are no longer recognised as such under the new funding formula.
“We strongly believe that additional needs money should be ring-fenced to provide for those needs.
“We are already having to make decisions with regards the range of courses we can offer our students and the size of classed we provide.”
Since the government changed the National Funding Formula for schools in April, headteachers say they have no choice but to use their core funding for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).
David Drew MP raised concerns over funding for children with additional needs during Prime Minister’s Questions in July.
“Back to school sadly means a financial headache for schools as well as growing concerns about the quality of education for some of our most vulnerable children,” he said.
“It is increasingly clear that there is a crisis in funding with inclusive schools being hit hardest.
“Proper financial provision should be in place to enable all children to fulfil their potential, whether they are in a mainstream school or in specialist provision.”
“The government must urgently review the National Funding Formula to ensure inclusive schools can provide education for all children to fulfil their potential.”