Improvements for SEND children but funding crisis must be addressed


Oxfordshire County Council has urged the government to provide more cash to plug the funding gap

Special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) children are benefiting from service improvements in Oxfordshire, but the County Council has appealed to the Secretary of State for Education to address a lack of funding.

More special school places are in the pipeline with plans to expand existing special schools.   The County Council says the long-awaited new school at Bloxham Grove (by the Warriner School) is “in development”.    Bids have also been submitted to the Department of Education for two more special free schools.

Other improvements in place, or being developed, include a project to support the wellbeing and mental health of pupils and staff in schools, which is currently being piloted in 10 schools in our area.

A review will aim to create a smoother transition when SEND children move schools, which is often an experience they find difficult.

Councillor Liz Brighouse is Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Children, Education and Youth Services.   She warns that, despite the improvements, the Council is struggling to keep up with the demand.

Councillor Brighouse urged the Secretary of State for Education, Gillian Keegan, to urgently address the national funding issues facing all local authorities providing SEND services for children and young people.   She said: “Gillian Keegan must find the money to fund the total accumulated deficit in the budget for SEND children arising from unfunded changes the government itself introduced nearly ten years ago. At the end of March 2022, in Oxfordshire the deficit stood at £29.8m and is forecast to increase to £47.3m by March 2023.

“Despite these extremely difficult financial challenges, we recently developed, with our partners, the local area SEND strategy. We’re now working on implementation of plans with schools, health partners, voluntary organisations, parents and carers to provide more support for children with SEND.”

Published: by Banbury FM Newsteam

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