Hartlepool school leaders to demand more money from Government to help children with special educational needs

Council and school leaders are to work together to write to government over a lack of funding for schools supporting children with special educational needs.

Tuesday, 26th November 2019, 11:27 am
Updated Tuesday, 26th November 2019, 1:42 pm
File picture from PA
File picture from PA

It comes after Hartlepool Borough Council Children’s Services Committee approved sending a request to government to transfer money from its schools block funding to the high needs block to meet the gap.

Council chiefs requested £0.550million was transferred to the block supporting children with special needs as part of funding for 2020/21 to meet the demand.

As the amount is over 0.5% of the schools block funding, with the amount 0.85%, the request has to be sent to the Secretary of State for approval, and similar requests had to be submitted for 2018/19 and 2019/20, which were approved.

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The schools forum, made up of staff from various educational bodies in the area, also approved the transfer by nine votes to eight.

However the forum also requested a joint letter from the council and schools forum be sent to the government explaining the demographics of Hartlepool.

The forum also called on the council to consult with other local authorities to collaborate on a regional approach to lobby government.

Sally Robinson, director of children’s and commissioning services said the forums stressed there was no concerns over the quality of service from the authority, and they thought the funding should be a government responsibility.

She said: “It is a fair point to note that there are increasing pressures, we are seeing escalating number of children with education health and care plans, who have SEND (special education needs and disability) needs.

“School forum members also requested two actions be considered by the local authority in relation to a joint letter from the council and schools forum to be sent to the government outlining some issues in relation to demographics in Hartlepool.

“Also that a consultation take place with other local authorities regarding their financial position with a view to collaborating on a regional approach of lobbying the government.”

Government funding to the high needs block increased by £1.748million from the previous year, just under 16%, but education chiefs said this was not enough following years of cuts and increased demand.

Joanne Wilson, headteacher at St Cuthbert’s RC School, said: “We wanted to make a point to the government as headteachers, yes you’ve given us additional money, but it is not enough for Hartlepool.”

David Turner, headteacher at Rift House Primary School, said: “You’re talking about really really complex children and families, we’ve got two excellent specialist schools in Hartlepool

“Everyone is going to benefit from the high needs funding.”

Mark Tilling, headteacher at High Tunstall College of Science, said: “I hope we can keep campaigning together and keep pushing more.

“We can continue to campaign together to make sure we continue to get more funding.”