(UK) 'Demand for special schools will increase'; the disaster continues

Nov 16, 2018,tes [Times Educational Supplement] Investigation: State bill for private special school places up by 40% Tes investigation shows 90 local authorities spent more than half a billion pounds on independent schools for pupils with SEND last year. The cost to the taxpayer of educating pupils in independent special schools has soared by 40 per cent in the last five years, a Tes investigation has found. Responses from 90 local authorities show that they spent a total of £565 million [$725M US dollars] last year on private schools for pupils with special educational needs and disability (SEND). The huge increase in the bill since 2012-13 has been partly driven by budget cuts, as well as pressures over results in mainstream schools, and a growing mental health crisis. Seventy-six out of the authorities that provided data to Tes increased spending on private special schools between 2012-13 and 2017-18, with over a dozen more than doubling their annual bill. … Councils are already facing a wave of legal action over cuts to funding for pupils with SEND, which covers everything from dyslexia and learning difficulties to physical disabilities, autism and complex needs. Chief secretary for the treasury, Liz Truss, reportedly pushed for an extra £155 million [$199M US dollars] to fund special needs places in the recent budget so local authorities could avoid using private providers, but was rebuffed by the chancellor. … The biggest increase came in Kent, where spending on sending pupils to special schools almost doubled from £15 million on 340 pupils in 2012/13 to £28.5 million on 680 pupils in 2017/18. … "If nothing is being done by central government and little is being done by local authorities to increase the capacity of ordinary schools to cater for the full spectrum of learning, then demand for special schools will increase." … A recent survey by the National Association of Headteachers found 94 per cent of heads said it is now harder to resource support for SEND pupils than two years ago. … Experts also pointed to several other more complex drivers behind the growing numbers of SEN pupils being sent to independent special schools:… The growing number of children with complex special needs that cannot be met by mainstream schools. Claire Dorer, chief National Association of Independent Schools and Non-Maintained Special Schools (NASS), said most pupils taught by her members are there because they have no other choice….