Council protects special needs education services amid national funding crisis

Release Date: 07 February 2019

Students, parents and teachers in Richmond upon Thames should know that Richmond Council is doing everything within its power to protect special needs education in the borough.

Despite ongoing and chronic Government underfunding of special needs education, the Council is committed to ensuring that the funding that is available is used in the most impactful and efficient way to enable all pupils to meet their full potential.

We are continuing to lobby the Government to provide more funding for SEN services in our borough including in responses to consultations, at meetings with Department for Education officials, and representations by the Council to the Secretary of State and meetings with local MPs.

The underfunding by Government of high needs education services is a well-recognised and escalating national issue and is not unique to Richmond upon Thames. In fact, the Local Government Association estimate that there is a £536m shortfall in funding nationally this year.

Cllr Robin Brown, Richmond Council’s Cabinet Member for Finance said:
'We want to make it very clear that the Council is on the side of our children, parents and schools in the battle to secure adequate funding for special needs education in this borough.

'From next year, the Government is requiring all boroughs who are spending more on education than is allowed for in the grant allocation to submit a three year Deficit Recovery Plan to the Department for Education.

'That means we are required to produce a plan, in consultation with service users and Schools Forum, that seeks to reach a more financially balanced position. I want to reiterate that the Council is committed to continuing to meet the needs of local pupils and will not produce a plan that means it is falling short in meeting its statutory duty.'

Notes for editors

The Council has recently consulted on possible changes that could be made to how local SEND services are delivered. Included in the consultation were:

  • Ways to increase the budget for SEND services by re-prioritising grant funding and ensuring that all parts of the public sector are paying their fair share
  • Options to make the local system more efficient by for example improving how school places are commissioned and the annual review process
  • Ways to improve local provision to ensure that children and young people can be educated locally (where appropriate) and post 16 education is geared towards preparing young people for adulthood within their local community
  • Questions about which education services (both SEND and non SEND) are most valued and should be prioritised

If you are a journalist and would like further information about this press release, contact Lyle Skipsey on 020 8487 5182.

Reference: P039/19

Updated: 26 February 2019