top of page

(UK) Liverpool: "Big increase in...autistic schoolchildren"; 1,165 to 2,109 in 4 yrs.

Dec 2, 2022, BBC News: Calls for changes to special educational needs funding system

NW England

The support system for children with special educational needs (SEN) in mainstream schools is "not fit for purpose", a head teacher said.

Jeremy Barnes, of All Saints Catholic Primary School in Anfield, Liverpool, said government funding for each child on the SEN register does not meet the cost of one-to one support needed.

"The figures just don't add up," he said.

The Department for Education has been approached for comment.

Schools receive an initial £6,000 [$7,300] for each child on the SEN register, a figure Mr Barnes said was often "diluted", because it was based on a "notional" number of SEN pupils expected to attend the school, rather than the actual number.

Jeremy Barnes said the current system was not fit for purpose "I think if you ask any head teacher across, not just the city, but across the country, they would give you pretty much the same answer which is the current system is not fit for purpose.

"Everybody knows that," he said.

"It's like a two-tier system. It's not at all, in any way shape or form, incentivising head teachers and schools to be highly inclusive."

There has been a big increase in the number of autistic schoolchildren in Liverpool in recent years.
Figures taken from the annual school census show that in January 2018, there were 1,165 SEN pupils with autism recorded as their primary need.
By January 2022, that number had risen to 2,109.

Councillor Tomas Logan, cabinet member for education at Liverpool City Council, said the national SEN system was "broken".

"We're making big changes that will have an impact in Liverpool," he said, "but ultimately, we, like the rest of the country, are demanding that the government fix the system."

Under the current formula, mainstream schools can apply for the "top-up" £6,000 for SEN pupils with greater needs, but Mr Barnes said that would not meet the cost of a support assistant delivering one-to-one support, adding it was "too easy" just to blame politicians….


bottom of page