Authorities quizzed over special needs education spending

Around a third of local education authorities, which have
increased funding for special educational needs by over 30 per cent
this year, are being questioned by government officials about their
role in the current education cash crisis, writes Amy

Newly published spending figures for all 150 LEAs show large
variations in their increases for funding for special educational
needs, with 45 authorities increasing this by over 30 per cent
while 33 have only increased it by 5 per cent or less.

Sir Jeremy Beecham, chairperson of the Local Government
Association, said the department for education and skills needed to
have more faith in local decision-making processes and that
variations in spending between schools and between authorities was
inevitable. “Different schools and different parts of the country
have different needs, particularly in relation to special needs
pupils,” he said.

The government has highlighted another ‘issue’ as the increase
in spending on educating pupils outside school, such as in pupil
referral units, by half of authorities.

It has also questioned why 19 LEAs appear not to be passing the
full increase in the education funding they received from
government into their schools budget, meaning schools in these
authorities miss out on £23 million. In response eight said
they would be doing this in full in January.

The National Association of Head Teachers refuted the
government’s claim that LEAs were responsible for the financial
difficulties saying this lay firmly at the centre.

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