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(UK) Romford: 'Desperately needed' special school shelved due to $4.9M overspend

Sept 18, 2020, Romford Recorder: Plans to build new Romford special school take hit as council faces education funding gap East of London Plans to build a “desperately needed” school for children with special needs in Havering have “slipped” as the council faces a budget gap of millions. At a meeting of the Schools Funding Forum, Havering’s strategic finance manager revealed there was a predicted overspend of £2.7 million [$3.5M U.S.] on schools this year. This is partly due to an increasing number of children who require expensive special needs education, as well as a £1.1m [$1.4M] deficit left over from last year. The Department for Education expects any council overspending more than one per cent of its schools funding to submit a plan for how it will rebalance the budget within three years. Caroline Penfold, head of childrens and adults disability service, told the meeting on Thursday, September 17: “It’s a shame, we do desperately need that special school…. Cabinet approved plans for the school, which would have taught 60 pupils from age three to 16, on April 17 last year. Construction was expected to cost around £8.5 million. Speaking in April last year, cabinet member for education, children and families Cllr Robert Benham said the new school would “take the pressure off” the existing three and “significantly reduce the cost of sending pupils to schools outside the borough”. The council currently spends £3.3m [$4.3M] sending special needs pupils to schools outside the borough, a figure Campion headteacher Keith Williams said was “extremely worrying”. Ms Penfold said the council was responding to its budget gap by “drilling down into” some of the more costly services for children with special educational needs…. Strategic finance manager David Allen reassured the forum that the borough’s projected overspend was “much, much lower than other boroughs” in London.


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