This week I've been analysing more results from my inaugural Croydon Schools Survey, where over 50 headteachers told me of the pressures they are under due to funding cuts. Last week I explained how 92% of headteachers have been forced to make staffing cuts because of funding. Today I've revealed that children with special educational needs (SEN) are also experiencing widespread cuts to their support. 85% of headteachers have had to cut SEN support due to lack of funding, and over a third have actually cut SEN staff numbers.
Meanwhile the number of children registered as having special needs in Croydon has actually risen significantly - by around 25% over the last seven years. It's a scandal that our schools can't even afford to support our most vulnerable children properly. Learn more by clicking the link below.
Croydon headteachers have told me that the pressure of funding cuts is now so great that 85% of them have even cut support from children with special educational needs - children with learning difficulties or disabilities who need extra support. Teachers and pupils need the support so that all our pupils get the attention they deserve in the classroom.
Croydon Council figures show that there are now over 2,000 children registered with special needs in our borough. But the 'high needs' budget for those pupils has been cut in real-terms by the Government since 2015, like the central schools budget.
Things are even worse for special needs funding because of significant increases in the number of children requiring support in recent years. Research from London Councils released last week found that since 2013 the number of children registered as having special needs (those with Education, Health and Care Plans or ECHPs) has increased by 10%, but high needs funding has increased by just 2% - leading to a £100m shortfall in SEN funding across the capital.
The problem isn’t just special needs funding for schools but also cuts to local council budgets. Councils provide vital services for SEN pupils such as transportation. I’ve worked with a constituent who can’t even get her son to school because the right transportation couldn’t be provided.
I've now written to the Schools Minister to repeat these concerns and to ask him to put pressure on the Government for new money for education in the Chancellor’s upcoming Budget. The Government must listen to parents and teachers who have said loud and clear that enough is enough.