SEND

Lib Dems would halve schools’ SEND funding contribution to £3k

Party would give councils more money to cut what schools have to pay, and set up a 'national body' to fund most expensive support

Party would give councils more money to cut what schools have to pay, and set up a 'national body' to fund most expensive support

The Liberal Democrats would halve the amount schools have to pay towards pupils’ additional SEND support to £3,000, under plans signed off at the party’s conference.

Delegates have approved a policy paper “A Better Start in Life”, which sets out the party’s vision for childcare and early years education, but also for special educational needs and disabilities.

At present, mainstream schools have to put £6,000 from their budgets towards the cost of supporting pupils with SEND.

But the Lib Dems would, if they form a government, “give local authorities extra funding to halve the amount that schools pay towards the costs of a child’s additional SEN support, from £6,000 to £3,000”.

This would “help to remove the financial disincentive that stops schools from identifying their pupils’ SEND as early as possible”, the policy paper states.

The Lib Dems estimate the policy would cost around £1.2 billion, based on the 389,171 school-age pupils who had an education, health and care plan as of January this year.

The party would also include a “specific emphasis on identifying and supporting children with SEND” in a new training programme for early years staff, also confirmed today.

New ‘national body’ for SEND

They would also aim to “help to end the postcode lottery in SEND provision by establishing a new national body for SEND to fund support for children with very high needs”.

Munira Wilson
Munira Wilson

The body would “pay any costs above £25,000, with funding determined by the child’s current needs and not by historic council spend”.

It would also act as a “champion for the child, promote inclusive practice and ensure that SEND funding is spent as effectively as possible to support the child”.

No further details of the policies have been announced. They are expected to be fleshed out and costed in the Lib Dems’ election manifesto.

It comes after education spokesperson Munira Wilson announced yesterday the party would hand schools and colleges £390 million a year to offer small group tutoring to pupils most struggling with their learning.

She also pledged an “end to the scandal of crumbling school buildings”, but again this policy has not yet been fleshed out.

The party has also previously confirmed it would extend universal free school meals to all primary pupils and all secondary pupils from families claiming universal credit. It has also said it will put a mental health professional in every school.

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