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***(UK) Gloucestershire sees 25% increase in students with 'more complex needs'

Jan 23, 2019, Gloucestershire Live: The 'impossible decisions' facing the people who educate some of Gloucestershire's most vulnerable children as budget cuts push them to the brink https://www.gloucestershirelive.co.uk/news/cheltenham-news/impossible-decisions-facing-people-who-2456070 Gloucestershire’s special schools aren’t receiving enough money, but more and more children with special education needs and disabilities (SEND) are joining them. And there are now fewer staff to help those extra children with complex needs. But what does this mean for the support of the children in those schools? … That’s what the school counsellor does at Belmont School in Cheltenham, who, according to headteacher Kevin Day, makes a two-hour round trip from the Forest of Dean to volunteer one day a week because she knows the needs of the SEND pupils at the school are so high. On a daily basis heads, teachers and governors are making these sorts of decisions right across the country on the back of cuts to education funding. Decisions that have to above all else ensure the safety of SEND pupils - who suffer from complex needs, learning difficulties or mental health issues - is paramount. In Gloucestershire, the money used to support children with SEND is overspent by £4.7million [$6.1M US dollars]and mainstream schools have had to consider plugging the large black-hole with money they receive from central government - but that still doesn’t make ends meet. Similarly, the Government’s recently announced cash injection into the county’s High Needs Block of £2.7million [$3.5M US] in two years doesn’t go all the way either. … He said: "When I took over, I had 105 children and 52 members of staff. At the same time as the staff has been reduced, quite dramatically, the children have gone up by 25 per cent with more complex needs. 'Gosh' is exactly the reaction I get from politicians. … Class sizes increased by 20 to 25 per cent in the same period of time. Originally the school had 14 classes but had to cut to 12, with the numbers of SEND pupils within them increasing by eight to 10 and 10 to 12.