***(UK) MILLIONS needed for autistic students; "growing demand/lack of services"

Updated: Jul 10, 2019

July 9, 2019, My London: Head teachers say autistic children are 'at risk' in West London schools because millions more is needed to support them –Hammersmith and Fulham schools went millions over budget this year to support them Head teachers are demanding millions in extra funding to help teach special-needs pupils who they say are being put “at risk”. Schools in Hammersmith and Fulham were a total of £13.9 million over budget in 2018/19 for providing staff and facilities for children with conditions such as autism and dyslexia. A Schools Forum meeting of council chiefs and head teachers from primary and secondary schools met last week to discuss the funding "crisis", caused by a growing demand and a lack of resources. Kathleen Williams, head of Holy Cross RC Primary School in Fulham said: “It’s the most vulnerable children who are at risk in our schools because you get an education health-care plan, and we can’t afford it. Every bit of other support is going. What happens when that runs out? “Without the DfE [Department for Education] recognising this and intervening… we’re really failing our vulnerable children.” They said the problem, faced in areas across the London, comes down to how funding levels for each part of the country are calculated. A Government spokesperson has said funding for special needs across all 32 London boroughs was increased by £41.8 million for the current financial year.. But Gary Kynaston, head of Hammersmith Academy, who chaired the meeting, said: “At the moment the funding we get is based on how many pupils there are in each school with high needs. Millions needed to support Autistic children The borough’s allocation for special needs this year is £17.1 million. But this was based on census data from 2017, when there were 481 children with high needs. This year there are now many more, the head teachers said. … “I think it’s a positive step that they have asked for this information because they will get to know the financial pressures we’re under in this area, where there’s been growth in demand,” he said. “The [current] National Funding Formula is not child-based, it’s an estimate… It’s an unforgiving and inaccurate way of assessing need.”… “In December we provided an extra £250 million up to 2020 to help manage these costs, of which £41.8 million was allocated to London. This takes the total amount that we have allocated for high needs funding to £6.3 billion this year, compared to £5 billion in 2013.