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(UK) Gloucestershire: "Desperate situation"; "much more complex children"

June 20, 2021, GloucestershireLive: Gloucestershire does not have enough money to run its schools, say education leaders

SW England Education leaders in Gloucestershire say the county does not have enough money to run its schools. Gloucestershire Schools Forum, which advises Gloucestershire County Council on aspects concerning decisions about school funding, is calling for a two per cent increase to top up funding for high needs education. The high needs funding system supports provision for pupils and students with special educational needs and disabilities from their early years to 25. In 2020/21 the county council set a deficit budget of £5,449,200, improving on this position by £330,000 in the year which led to a final overspend of £5,119,200 [$7M U.S.] And now the council is proposing a high needs deficit of £3,570,000 [$5M] for the current financial year. And to help achieve that they are suggesting that top-up funding remains frozen at the current levels. But Becky Martin, chair of governors at Bettridge School, said the situation was desperate and special schools cannot continue with the extra demands with no increase in funding…. “The special schools just cannot continue to put up salaries of teachers and all the things we have to do to increase our pupil support and just having the same money. “I would almost beg the forum to consider just having the same increase as everything else. “In terms of the funding coming to Gloucestershire, maybe we could think of a larger plan of going to the Government and the Department for Education (DfE) and saying we don’t have enough money in our county to run our schools. “Surely, that must be the way we need to go if we cannot afford to just in line with inflation pay the special schools their base and top-up funding. Sands Academy Trust chief executive officer Lyn Dance said schools were being asked to cope with much more complex children without an increase in funding…. “It seems morally wrong to me,” she said. “There’s a big number of children who need a special school place and there aren't any available. “So those mainstream schools are dealing with children who really should be in the special schools and they are not getting that extra support that they deserve and need.” Education strategy and development head Philip Haslet said the deficit was a situation affecting many local authorities across the country…. “It’s a level of need issue and everyone is seeing a rise in level of need. “You can see rising levels across the country national in special educational needs."…


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