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National Audit Office publishes report into SEND funding

Friday 13 September 2019

The National Audit Office – which reports into the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee and looks at whether government is getting the best returns on spending – has published a wide ranging review of SEND funding.

The report is critical of the current system saying: “Stakeholders in the sector have raised concerns that the demand for special school places is growing because the system incentivises mainstream primary and secondary schools to be less inclusive.

“Mainstream schools are expected to cover the first £6,000 of support for a child with SEND from existing budgets and cost pressures can make them reluctant to admit or keep pupils with SEND.

“Another barrier is that schools with high numbers of children with SEND may also appear to perform less well against performance metrics.”

The report echoes the BDA’s views and enforces the need for substantial change. Underlining this, Gareth Davies, the head of the NAO, said: “While lots of schools, both special and mainstream, are providing high-quality education for pupils with SEND, it is clear that many children’s needs are not being met.”

The report is published following an announcement by government of comprehensive review of SEND funding. On this review, Mr Davies, said: “I therefore welcome the DfE’s announcement of a review into support for children with SEND, following our engagement with them on this issue over recent months. We hope the review will secure the improvements in quality and sustainability that are needed.”

Helen Boden, CEO, British Dyslexia Association, said: “Having the National Audit Office look at government SEND spending in such depth is an important step towards improving the system. The findings reinforce what we are campaigning for and further demonstrate that the EHCP system just isn’t working for the education system, taxpayer, and most importantly, young dyslexics and their families.

“Having this level of independent insight into the issue will be invaluable to the forthcoming SEND review, which we are hopeful will begin the move towards a system that works.”