Government told to keep hands off special education needs funding

The National Autistic Society has warned the government that it
would be breaching local authority rules if it tries to cut special
educational needs funding, writes Derren

NAS’s concerns follow comments made by health secretary
Charles Clarke that the government suspected some local education
authorities of diverting parts of their general schools budget into
funding special educational needs students.

Steve Broach, policy and campaigns manager for NAS, said it was
“curious” that the government was singling out SEN
spending as being a reason for the general funding problems in

“The implication of this is that some LEAs are spending
more than others, but local authorities have a duty to assess and
meet the special educational needs of a child and have little
control of how much they spend if the law is being applied

Broach added that any cutbacks in SEN funding would be
“very unhelpful”, and result in more parents taking
their cases to the independent SEN and disabilities tribunal.

Clarke told teacher’s union NASWUT’s annual
conference that an initial audit of 90 LEA’s spending budgets
this year had shown some authorities have made “huge
increases” in funding for SEN, while others have made

Clarke said that once all 250 LEAs had filed figures he would
publish them, ask them to justify spending decisions and in light
of this consider changes to funding rules for next year.

The issue has arisen over some schools’ concerns that they
will have to cut teachers jobs this year because of a shortfall in
funding from LEAs. The government said it has increased schools
spending by 11.6 per cent in 2003-04, or £2.7 billion in cash

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