Special schools in England face funding pressures, head teachers say School

Special schools in England are struggling to access significant government funding worth thousands of pounds to offset rising staff salaries and rising fuel costs, head teachers have warned, with some facing cuts in class size.

The Autumn Expenditure Review set aside £ 1.2 billion in funding for schools to cover the upcoming national insurance increase and “broader spending pressures,” including a new £ 30,000 starting salary for teachers, as well as an increase in fuel prices.

That fund, the school’s supplementary grant, has been transferred directly to mainstream schools, but goes through local authorities to special schools, alternative arrangements, and hospital schools through high-demand budgets.

Special schools warn that this has led to a “postcode lottery” where some cash-criminal councils withhold all or part of the grant to reduce their high-demand budget deficit, while others match or exceed the mainstream grant school

Pauline Achinson, who runs the National Network of Special Schools (NNoSS), which represents 460 special schools across England, said: .

“Top-ups have not increased in many schools for many years. They are seeing real cuts in their funds. We need to make sure that while mainstream schools are guaranteed extra funding for extra costs that are not their own fault, the same is true with special, hospital and alternative systems. It has to be a level playing field. “

Aitchison said the funding was especially important for special schools, which hire more staff per student and help them avoid staff crises, leaving assistant staff to leave the job for lower pay. “Having this funding guarantee can make schools more strategic in retaining and attracting the right staff for their school,” he added.

According to an NNoSS survey of 135 special schools since mid-March, about two-thirds still have not heard from local authorities, despite health and social care tariffs being in effect since April 1, when nine out of 10 expected to receive insufficient funding from their local authorities. .

Achinson says uncertainty is making it harder to plan for next year and head for the budget. He said the Department for Education (DFE) said delays were a matter for councils and schools, with no deadlines or specific procedures set by local authorities.

A multi-academy trust, Eden Academy, said the four local authorities where its special schools were based had given different responses so far. Hillingdon will not pass any funds, Harrow will give anything but has not yet determined how much, Cambria has passed 3%, just below 4% of mainstream schools, and Northumberland has not yet decided, says its chief operating officer, dear reader.

He said the lack of transparency is making it difficult for schools to determine what support they will be able to provide to students in September, with the ability to limit class sizes to eight students, including therapy and speech and language, as well as forcing schools. Dive into emergency funds to cover unforeseen costs, such as building work. “I can only budget for something that I know is definitely coming. The danger is I rely on it and it doesn’t materialize.”

He added: “Our head was told this fund was coming and now it seems it is not happening. We are still trying to negotiate with the local authorities to get some of them out. It’s stressful for the head, the uncertainty of not knowing what the budget will be like. “

Warren Carat, chief executive of the Nexus Multi-Academy Trust in South Yorkshire, said he thinks the decision reflects the government’s view that special needs schools have been blamed for increasing high-demand funding in recent years. Published.

“From the department’s point of view, it seems that special schools are well-funded and that’s where the problem lies, but there are structural deficits in the high-demand blocks,” he said.

“It appears from the green paper that financial recovery will come from fewer children in special schools and the department is reluctant to direct the council to pass the SSG. [schools supplementary grant] To me, this is a clear indication that the department is saying that special schools do not need more money, which would not be strongly agreed with special schools. “

A DFE spokesman said the SSG was “paid directly to mainstream schools but provided to local authorities for alternative arrangements, special schools and more.” Supplementary grants will be rolled out to the NFF. “

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