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(UK) Essex County faces massive "increase in school deficit"; SPED "predicted to rise"

Dec 3, 2018, Thurrock: Your Thurrock: Deficits levels in Thurrock schools could rise fivefold in next five years http://www.yourthurrock.com/2018/12/03/deficits-levels-thurrock-schools-rise-fivefold-next-five-years/ DEFICIT levels among schools managed and maintained by Essex County Council (ECC) could rocket by more than fivefold in five years – if the same pressures facing one school in Chelmsford are felt across the county. Facing a deficit of around £800,000 in five years, the head teacher, who does not want to be named, said the only option left to address would be to make redundancies. Currently the school, one of 230 predicted to be in deficit out of a total of 268 ECC maintained schools, is facing a deficit in 2018/19 of £142,000 [$181K US dollars]. But the head teacher said he “sat in disbelief” after being warned that could rise to around £800,000 [$1M US] in five years. If that was mirrored across the county, schools could be facing a total deficit of more than £50m [$64M US]. The headteacher said: “The only solution is redundancies. That is the only way of saving significant money and that would mean losing significant amounts of provision. “We have performing arts specialists, music specialist, sports specialist. These are at the heart of the breadth of our curriculum. “If we start to lose things our offer to the children will be significantly diminished. “We’d have to lose LSA (learning support assistnat) support, and SEN (special educational needs) support and can we keep standards up without intervention work?... Schools with a deficit budged have to set a plan to detail how they are going to get themselves out of deficit. A total of 86 per cent of the school’s budget goes on staff costs, but with a high number of SEN children the school is facing significant cost pressures to manage that provision. “Next year that (percentage spent on SEN children) is predicted to rise to above 90 per cent. … “And the impact it has on staff stress when you have not got the capacity to deal with the issues that are presenting – for example mental health is acute and it affects the mental health of the staff. … “The government is making a lot of noise about mental hand the rest of it – but they haven’t given us any money, in addition, to help support that. …