Sheffield Primary schools decrease SEND funding for new academic year

Funding for Special Educational Needs and Disability services in Sheffield Primary schools has decreased, despite the current demand for more SEND places and resources

Written by: Kieran Aubrey
Date: 30/11/2021

For the current 2021/22 academic year, 64% of Sheffield Primary schools have decreased notional SEND funding from the previous year (85 out of 133).

In total, SEND funding in primary schools throughout Sheffield has decreased by just over £642,000.

Hannah Lawrence, a SEND teacher with 9-years experience, said: “There’s been an increasing difficulty in getting the correct funding to match the support that the pupils’ EHCPs (Education, Health & Care Plans) should have entitled them to.

“SEND is better understood now, and there is an increasing understanding that schools need to adapt to meet the needs of pupils rather than the other way around – but still a long way to go.”

Despite this reduction in notional SEND funding, Sheffield Primary schools still saw a £14million increase in their total funding, with 125/133 schools receiving a bigger budget.

Nationally, the focus on SEND funding has recently been in the spotlight for the right reasons, with SEND focus in the October budget.

Rishi Sunak announced plans to fund a £2.6 billion pot all for SEND children, and to create more than 30,000 new school places for SEND children.

Michael Surr, head of education at the National Association for Special Educational Needs (nasen), said: “This is of course welcome, but does raise the question of when these places will be created and how they will be staffed.

“As we know, school and Local Authority budgets are under immense pressure and so we are eagerly awaiting the publication of the SEND Review and the High Needs Funding Review to see how this situation can be resolved, to ensure that children and young people with SEND are able to access the provision that they need.”

In Sheffield, the situation is far from resolved, as several parents with SEND children are struggling to give their children a good education.

Eva Juusola, of the Sheffield Parent Carer Forum, said: “All of our special schools are completely full.

“We know that some severely disabled children are having to attend mainstream schools who cannot meet their needs, simply because there aren’t any places for them.

“Some parents are so worried about the impact on their child’s mental health that they take them out of school to home educate them.”

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