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(UK) Cambridgeshire: 'We cannot meet their needs'; "fivefold" overspend in SPED costs

Nov 17, 2019, Cambridgeshire Live: Vital services for 'our most vulnerable children' could be cut due to overspending 'I don’t see how we come out of this without services to our most vulnerable children being cut to some extent' Cambridgeshire’s overspending on high needs education has increased more than fivefold in three years according to the county council…. Funding for schools is set to increase nationally, including in Cambridgeshire, but a council report on the high needs education budget says funding is not keeping pace with the rising pressures. The county council is expecting Cambridgeshire’s 2020/21 high needs funding from central government to increase by around 8.4 per cent compared this year, and yet a council report to the schools forum last Friday (November 8) says it “simply isn’t enough” and is not matching the growth in demand or “higher expectations”. The council said the anticipated increase in funding is around £2m less than it was expecting “and will result in the need to make further significant savings on these budget areas”…. At the most recent meeting of the schools forum on November 8, Dr Kim Taylor OBE, headteacher at Spring Common Academy, said: “The high needs block needs to be the main focus. We do know if we don’t invest in our children at a younger age then it’s going to cost you even more as adult services and the life-long cost and the life-long impact on that person is considerable. "At the end of the day, we have in the UK a culture that children are all entitled to an education and we are getting to a point where we haven’t got the money to deliver it, and I think that’s why we need to be very open with our colleagues about that.”… …If the money is not transferred then some of the services that the schools get from the high needs fund will be cut, and we’ll have to find another way of paying for them – so the money will come out of the schools budget anyway…. The council report says “there is no funding to meet the increasing number and complexity of high needs pupils. To the contrary significant savings need to be delivered”. The high needs budget has moved from an overspend of £1.3m [$1.7M US] in 2015/16 to £8.8m [$11M US] just three years later…. The council says 14 per cent of the high needs budget is spent on out of county provision. The council’s service director for education, Jonathan Lewis, told the schools forum the county has to rely on out of county placements because “the challenge we have got here is some of these children, we cannot meet their needs.” Questioned at the school's forum as to why changes cannot be made to bring more provision back into the county he said: “Even if we wanted to meet those needs in the county, where’s the capital coming from to build something? We haven’t got any places in our special schools. Where is the revenue coming from to set these things up, to make them happen? …


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