Vulnerable special needs pupils at risk of exclusion due to funding cuts

According to the latest Depatment for Education figures (2015 to 2016) exclusion rates are on the rise. A new NEU survey reinforces these findings and found that vulnerable special needs pupils at risk of exclusion due to funding cuts

According to a National Education Union survey released at the ATL section’s annual conference, children with special educational needs or disabilities are not getting the support they need and are at risk of being permanently excluded from school because of funding cuts.

Over 900 staff working in schools in Egland were surveyed; the responses revealed that cuts to education funding are affecting SEND pupils worse this year.

Half of those who responded said that their school has cut support for SEND children this year compared to 40% last years. The survey also revealed that cuts are worse in the primary setting with 54% reporting cuts, compared with 49% in secondary schools.

The NEU survey found that nearly a third (31%) – compared to 26% last year – of respondents saying their school has cut SEND posts this year and attributed this to funding cuts. Thirty-six per cent of secondary school respondents reported cuts to SEND staff, compared to 24% of those in primaries.

A member of staff in a Bristol primary school said: “We have a huge number of pupils with social, emotional and mental health needs or autism and we cannot support them properly. SEND top-up funding has been reduced dramatically and so for a child that we used to be able to claim an extra £5,000 to meet their needs, we can now only get £1,001 as a maximum.”

Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union (NEU), said: “If the true measure of a country is how it treats its most vulnerable, then this Government is failing big time. Children with special needs are being let down. The Government’s funding cuts are cutting so deep that schools cannot provide the support SEND pupils need and are struggling to access external support because this has been cut too. The Government needs to wake up to the facts and urgently make more money available for schools so they can keep SEND pupils safe and provide the help and support they need.”

‘The biggest changes in SEND provision are cuts to teaching assistant (TA) support, cited by over half of respondents (54%), rising to 58% of primary respondents. Overall nearly one in four (39%) said this year there is less support for pupils with SEND support,’ the NEU has highlighted.

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Another worrying trend identified through the survey was the increase in the time taken to send students for a diagnosis of conditions such as autism – a third of primary respondents (37%) and just over a quarter (26%) of all respondents observed this, which, the NEU says, means children will not be getting the extra support they need.

‘The funding cuts are making it harder for schools to access external support for SEND pupils this year, with nearly 40% of primary respondents saying it is harder to access external support service interventions, over a quarter (26%) overall. And a third of primary respondents saying their school has less access to specialist teaching resources for SEND pupils, 23% overall,’ The NEU has said.

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