Thousands of children with special needs are paying the price of a “crisis” in education funding, one union has claimed.
Official figures show the number of youngsters with special educational needs plans or statements that are awaiting school places has more than doubled in a year.
The National Education Union (NEU) claimed that local councils are being “starved” of the money they need for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), with youngsters forced to stay at home because authorities do not have the cash to provide a suitable education.
Overall, as of January last year, there were 287,290 children and young people, up to the age of 25 in England, that had an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP), or a statement of special educational needs.
From the Telegraph
A new study has shown that parents in England are prepared to pay a considerable premium if they want to live near a top state secondary school.
The report showed that homes near the best secondary schools command an average house price of £415,844, adding 45pc to the English average.
The data from Lloyds Bank reveals that over the past five years, the average property price in areas with a top-performing state school has grown by £116,696 (39pc), compared to a rise of £51,264 (22pc) across England.
Rental prices are similarly affected by the location of secondary schools.
The study noted how this can impact on the social mix of those state schools, stating “The popularity of areas close to high performing schools may mean that homes remain unaffordable for buyers on average earnings.”
Many families do make house buying decisions without fully understanding their preferred school’s admissions criteria. For example, a selective grammar school or faith school will view the location of the house as a less important consideration than academic ability or church attendance when admitting pupils. Even factors such as sibling priority can alter the “catchment” area of a school year on year, especially in urban areas.
Dean Associates’ annual review of independent school fees across the UK has shown an average rise of around 3.5% from academic year 2016/17.
This is similar to the rise over the previous year, but a little higher than the three year period 2012-2015 that saw increases capped at just around 3% per year. The chart below shows how this figure has evolved since 2009.
The independent schools market still appears to be strong, with high demand in most urban areas, although more flexibility on space in rural day schools, especially at primary level.
There is still much debate about the validity of the independent school sector’s charitable status with some critics arguing that the fees should be eligible for VAT – however, this is unlikely to come into play unless a new General Election bring the Labour Party into power.
Many independent schools are also trying to counter this argument – offering greater public access to their facilities and a wider range of means-tested bursary places.
In the last few days we’ve seen pledges from both the Liberal Democrats and Labour to increase funding across education, the Liberals Democrats by £7 billion and Labour by £5.5 billion. In both Labour and the Liberal Democrat plans the lion’s share of the proposed funding would go on schools, with both planning to scrap the current Government’s plans to invest in grammar schools.
Labour are also pledging to reintroduce the university maintenance grant and may set a longer term goal of scrapping university tuition fees, something the Green Party has also indicated that they would do.
And the newly released Conservative manifesto aims to put £4 billion into the schools budget by 2022. At the same time they will establish at least 100 new free schools per year, remove the ban on grammar schools and introduce a specialist maths school in every major city across England. Theresa May also plans to require universities charging maximum tuition fees to ‘become involved’ in academy sponsorship or the founding of free schools.
Interesting times… we’ll keep you updated as the policies evolve.