The Government Needs To Be Brave In Its New Schools Bill

By Dhruv Patel, CEO, The Nisai Virtual Academy

The Schools Bill, announced this morning in the Queen’s Speech, promises that every child will get the education they deserve and that there is vision, ethos and strategic direction in our education system.


We know, having provided online and blended learning to hard to reach and hard to teach learners for 25 years, how important that it is that the Government gets this right.


It is key that the Government makes good on their promise that if a child falls behind in English or Maths, as has now been laid out in this new legislation, that they will get the support they need to get them back on track. Whatever that takes.  After all, 19% of children have SEN at the age of 10 which means that they will need the help the Government is promising more than ever as they will not be able to achieve the Government’s targets as easily as a neurotypical child.  Instead, they will need to be given extra provision to help them access the curriculum and this will unfortunately need the Government to make good on another of their promises – reformation of funding.


Currently, there are 1,083,100 children in the UK with SEN, 430,697 of which have EHCP’s. As each child with SEN but without an EHCP is designated £6,000 a year by the Government, over £3.9bn of basic funding is needed to ensure that all children have access to the promised Government provision.  In addition, as one EHCP would cost a bare minimum of £20,000 a year (assuming that all is needed is just one-to-one teacher provision which we all know is usually not all that’s been set out as necessary), this would imply that the number of EHCP’s currently in place would cost the Government at least £8.6bn.  A total of at least £12.5bn.


However, the reality is that as SEN funding is “not a separate formula”, local authorities only allocate an average of 11.2% of their funding to SEN which translates to a short fall of at least £1.4bn. This is not good enough.


The Government has the opportunity to fix this.  They have the opportunity to reform funding properly, not just tinker around the edges.


The need to make SEN a separate budget line, allowing schools to provide all children with the opportunity to stay on track with their education. Young people with SEN would then be able to get the provision they really need.


Let’s hope they take this fresh opportunity of a new Parliamentary session to take it.

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