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Smoke and Mirrors Won't Save Special Needs Education

September 4, 2019 1:06 PM
Originally published by Liberal Democrat Group on Norfolk County Council

Three quarters of Norfolk schools have been forced to reduce Special Needs (SEND) provision over the last four years because of budget cuts according to a survey carried out by Liberal Democrats. Over 90% fear they will have to consider more cuts in the future.

Ed Maxfield, leader of the Liberal Democrat group of councillors on Norfolk County Council commented:

"Smoke and mirror funding pledges from the government won't save Special Needs education. It's clear that growing demand and years of cuts is creating a crisis when we should be investing in those who most need support."

Councillor Maxfield wrote to the 200 schools in Norfolk before the summer holidays. Replies to his survey suggest 78% have reduced SEND support; 85% have cut spending on equipment and over 90% have reduced spending on staff.

"Boris Johnson's claims to be increasing funding for schools were quickly exposed as exaggerated. As schools go back for the new term they need certainty and real support, not spin.

"One headteacher described SEND provision as 'at crisis point' and another said, 'our parents can't pay for everything.'

"Government action is needed but Norfolk Conservatives need to get a grip on the issue too. At the council cabinet meeting earlier this week we learned that Children's Services spending is still millions of pounds over budget with no solution in sight. My survey suggests that the overwhelming majority of schools lost out on SEND funding when the Council changed the way it allocates funding for High Needs pupils last year. Fixing this crisis needs to be at the top of politicians' to do list."

Ed Maxfield

Ed Maxfield