NAHT analysis of the crisis in High Needs Funding

By agency reporter
May 5, 2018

The school leaders' union NAHT has published a new analysis of the factors behind the current crisis in high needs funding.

Key findings – the drivers of the crisis in high needs funding:

The real terms cuts to education funding since April 2015 have had significant impact on the education of pupils with high needs, meaning that funding has to be stretched much further to cover:

  • Unfunded pay increases for teachers and support staff.
  • Increases in employer costs for national insurance and Teachers’ Pensions representing over 5.5 per cent
  • Cuts to the local authority Education Services Grant of £600 million that have shifted the burden onto schools.
  • The new apprenticeship levy of 0.5 per cent of payroll costs levied on the majority of schools
  • Increases in the number of pupils with statements or Educational Health Care Plans (EHCP) with an increase of over 50,000 (21 per cent) between 2014 and 2017 – 31,000 between 2016 and 2017 alone. 
  • A shift from mainstream to specialist provision of five per cent of pupils between 2010 and 2017 (56 per cent of pupils to 51 per cent).
  • The raft of reforms to curriculum and assessment have resulted in a less accessible curriculum for those with SEND in mainstream primary and secondary schools. Seventy-nine per cent of school leaders in the latest State of Education report believing that the current national curriculum requirements are not providing the best outcomes for all pupils in mainstream education. 
  • A significant 19 per cent increase in the number of pupils with SEND attending independent schools between 2010 and 2017. Independent special schools generally support pupils with the most complex needs so the cost of pupils in those settings is often much higher.
  • A slight but significant increase in the number of pupils educated in alternative provision or PRUs, that are also funded from the high needs block, from 1,500 in 2013/14 to 2,200 in 2017. 
  • An increase in the number of children and young people being home educated or educated outside a school setting, from 3,305 in 2010 to 8,304 in 2017, with half of those, 4,050, now pupils awaiting provision.



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