Campaign for city’s children is working

A campaign for more funding for children with special education needs has been partially successful, with an extra £350 million promised over the next two years.

Councillor Jon Taylor, Cabinet member for Education, Skills and Transformation today gave a cautious welcome to this week’s announcement from Nadhim Zahawi MP (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children and Families), promising an additional £350 million across the country for SEND over the next two years. It means Plymouth is expected to receive £554,000.

He said: “It’s certainly a step in the right direction. While it won’t fix what is becoming a crisis, it’s a strong signal that the Government recognises much more needs to be done.

“No child should be denied the opportunity to learn and flourish in Plymouth.

“We have not sat back but have actively campaigned on behalf of parents and families and our schools who are finding their hands are tied behind their backs because of financial restraints.”

There are currently 2,000 children in Plymouth with a statutory statement of special educational needs and with those needs come the demand for extra time, resources and expertise across all schools. There will also be many more pupils who will require extra support but do not have an Education Health and Care Plan.

With budgets being squeezed it has become difficult for schools to fulfil their obligations for children living with SEND, he said.

He added: “I will continue to press for more funds for our schools. We have real issues that are affecting school standards and the potential of hundreds of school pupils. Poorly funded schools and massively reduced local authority budgets limit our ability to analyse, coordinate and address under performance.”

A motion on notice was discussed last November at Full Council and Plymouth was also one of 39 councils to sign an open letter calling for more money for schools and local authorities to support Children and Young People with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities.

The letter was compiled by the School Cuts Coalition and sent to the Education Secretary expressing deep concerns about the ‘dangerously inadequate funding’ for children and young people with SEND.