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Exploring SEN funding in 2020 

Seeing a child with special educational needs (SEN) blossom in school can be one of the most rewarding aspects of our jobs. But pupils with SEN require extra support for which tailored classes, specially trained teachers and adaptable classrooms all play a part. Needing these additional resources means you’ll likely rely on having access to enough SEN funding to help the pupil thrive in school. 

But, as inclusion and literary expert Jules Daulby highlights, this access isn’t always guaranteed. In partnership with Daulby, specialist lawyers Bolt Burdon Kemp have created a filterable table of some of the key facts and figures regarding the SEN landscape. Some of the insights they provide, which will help schools decide which direction to take their SEN provision in 2020, include: 

1.    The proportion of pupils with SEN rose for a third consecutive year in 2019SEN funding - Jules Daulby

In 2019, pupils with SEN represented 14.9% of the overall student body compared to 14.6% in 2018 and 14.4% in 2017. It’s difficult to pinpoint the reason for this steady increase, says Daulby, pointing out that it could simply be that the system is getting better at identifying children with SEN. 
Daulby does note that “more boys tend to get SEN support than girls, as girls generally don’t have the behavioural issues associated with SEN. This often leads to their needs being missed, as their traits may not be as easily identified as with boys.” It’s likely, therefore, that there are hundreds more female pupils with SEN that have been missed by the system.

2.    London now gets more SEN funding than any other region

As you might expect, the capital city gets more high needs funding than any other region in England. But, while London gets £22.9 million more in high needs funding than the South East, the South East is home to the greatest number of SEN students. The South East is also home to more specialist schools dedicated to SEN students. 
This discrepancy might risk putting SEN students – and the schools that cater to them – on the back foot. “What’s more,” says Daulby, “the government needs to tackle the problem of the SEN notional budget that asks schools to contribute their own budget to cater to SEN pupils. It puts inclusive schools at a perverse disadvantage.”

3.    Changes in the system may be leaving SEN pupils behind 

According to Daulby, “there are likely to be many children who used to be identified with SEN who aren’t now.” With changes to the system that has seen SEN identification go from a 5-stage risk classification to two stages, children who previously had SEN support may find themselves being left by the wayside. If children with special needs and disabilities don’t qualify as either needing SEN support or needing an Educational, Health and Care plan, they may be left without the backing they need to thrive.

The need for additional SEN funding is a continuous – and ever-present – conversation that headteachers, deans and everyone in the school system concern themselves with on a regular basis. Keeping ourselves abreast of the trends – and shortcomings – in the way the government allocates that funding can help us plan better, allowing us to better cater for students who need it the most. 

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