£280 million funding for SEND improvements and school places

Children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) are to receive a share of a £280 million investment which has been announced by the government to carry out building improvements or to create new places in schools, academies, colleges and early years settings.

This could also contribute to the cost of creating or to improve accessibility, such as installing ramps, handrails or ceiling hoists or expand outstanding special provision that helps children attend school in the local area so that children gain independence within their local community.

Councils will receive their share of the £280 million based on their “estimated share of future growth in the high needs pupil population”, with a “minimum funding floor” to ensure every local authority gets at least £500,000.

Minister for the School System Baroness Berridge said: “It is so important that all children and young people, whatever their background, are able to attend a good school that helps them thrive and gives them the building blocks they need to go on to fulfil their potential.

“For pupils with more complex needs or disabilities, it is especially important that the right facilities and support are in place at whatever school they attend, so they can learn in a modern, adaptable environment.

“This funding will help councils provide targeted support to level up outcomes for some of their most vulnerable pupils.”

The investment follows £365 million allocated through the Special Provision Capital Fund to create places and improve facilities for pupils with SEND across 2018 to 2021.

Children and Families Minister Vicky Ford said: “Every child or young person with SEND should go to school feeling confident that they will get the tailored support they need at school, and every teacher should be equipped with the right facilities to teach those pupils.

“This additional investment will enable local authorities to invest more in creating excellent school places or enhancing existing provision so that pupils with additional needs and disabilities get the same opportunities as any other.”

The funding is for the financial year 2021-22, to support the provision of high needs places needed by September 2022. Up to an additional £20 million will be used to support High Needs capital projects in a small number of the local authorities facing the highest Dedicated Schools Grant deficits.

Professor Adam Boddison, chief executive of the National Association for Special Educational Needs (NASEN), said: “Given the growing demand for high-quality specialist provision, this increase in high needs funding is a welcome investment. I hope that local authorities will work in partnership with schools, specialist settings and families so that this funding is targeted to secure long term benefits for learners with SEND.”

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