£1.7million Warwickshire school budget plug plan slammed - The Leamington Observer

£1.7million Warwickshire school budget plug plan slammed

Leamington Editorial 11th Feb, 2020 Updated: 11th Feb, 2020   0

PLANS to take £1.7million out of Warwickshire’s school budgets to plug a funding gap in special educational needs have been slammed.

Labour has hit out at Warwickshire County Council’s proposals to move money from the school budget to the ‘higher needs block’ – which supports children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

After the Schools Forum rejected the plans last month, permission is now being sought from the secretary of state by Conservative-led Warwickshire County Council to push ahead with the proposals.

If given the green light £1.7million – 0.5 per cent of the total schools budget – will be moved to the higher needs block.

But Labour says with SEND support having a projected deficit of more than £6million this year, the area needed added investment and not money taken from other parts of the school budget.

Labour councillor Helen Adkins – who is also a teacher – said: “The higher needs block is an underfunded area of education, which needs addressing in its own right. It should not be the case of borrowing from Peter to pay Paul.

“Why isn’t council leader Izzi Secombe calling on central government to put more money into higher needs instead of taking the easy option of taking money from Warwickshire schools?”

Her calls have been echoed by the county council’s Labour group leader Richard Chattaway.

He told the Observer: “This withdrawal of more than £1.7 million is a huge amount to be removed from school budgets across Warwickshire.

“It will have an impact upon the most vulnerable students, since the pots of money available to them will be gone.”

But the county council claims moving the money will not affect the budget due to increased central government grants.

A spokeswoman said: “We are requesting this budget transfer within the Dedicated Schools Grant to ensure that schools and learners with special education needs and disabilities in Warwickshire get the resources they need.

“This does not mean a cut to the schools budget in Warwickshire as, for the first time ever, this year coming we will receive sufficient Dedicated Schools Grant to fully fund the ‘hard’ national funding formula.

“Warwickshire schools will get their full budget allocation and headroom can be used to meet special educational needs.

“We continue to ensure funding continues to meet increasing requests for support and provision for special educational needs.”


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