(UK) Birmingham: Local classroom has 25% of students with special needs; more funding needed

June 1, 2018, U.K. Guardian: Our schools are broke – so why aren’t we talking about it? Michelle Gay is the headteacher of Osborne primary, a 270-pupil local authority school in Erdington, on the north-eastern edge of Birmingham. In total, 25% of her pupils are categorised as having special educational needs, 39% have a first language other than English, and 43% are eligible for free school meals. Osborne primary has an urgent issue: a lack of money. Ofsted rates it as “a good school with outstanding leadership”, and since 2016 its numbers have been expanding: in September 2019 it will take on another new class, but Gay won’t have enough money to pay for a new teacher, so the teaching will be done by existing staff. She says she needs at least 13 classroom assistants to help children who need extra support – not least those who need help with English – but only has 11. The school used to get about £100,000 a year from Birmingham city council and other agencies to pay three staff who work on child protection and supporting parents, as well as counselling children with mental health issues. … Children with special needs are being pushed out of state schools. The curriculum is being stripped back to its basics. And the stuff that desiccated minds would have you believe is unnecessary guff – art, music, drama – is the first to go. Yet grammar schools will reportedly benefit from a new £50m “expansion fund”.