Warning Kent schools could close unless government changes policy

Pam Mills

The Leader of Kent County Council Paul Carter has issued an urgent appeal to the Government for greater school funding.

This follows the release of data which shows how county halls are needing to dip into funds reserved for state schools to pay for supporting children with special educational needs.

In the past four years Kent County Council has transferred £28million to make up for the shortfall, one of the highest amounts in the country.

This prompted Conservative Cllr Carter to write to Tory Education Secretary Damian Hinds to call on him to increase the pot of money allocated to councils with demand rising.

He wrote: ‘It is regrettable that councils are only able to properly provide support to children with special education needs by instead using funding that was intended for a different group of children.

‘I am sure that you will agree this is not a desirable or sustainable position.’

The data was released after a survey, compiled by County Councils Network, of which Cllr Carter is Chairman.

It also showed how almost £200million in total was spent beyond what they had budgeted for by UK county councils in three years.

County halls have a legal obligation to support children with special educational needs, which could show why they needed to spend the money.

But Cllr Carter has warned that state schools may have to make further cuts or even close if extra funding is not provided.

He added: ‘Schools have had to make significant sufficiency savings already to sustain anymore would materially affect the education of the pupils in their schools.

‘We are on a cliff edge now.’

The letter was sent to the Department for Education ahead of their spending review.

A spokesman from the department said: ‘By 2020, core school funding will rise to a record £43.5 billion, its highest ever level and 50 per cent more per pupil in real terms than in 2000.

‘The high needs budget for pupils with special educational needs is £6billion this year – the highest on record.

‘Thanks to the additional £1.3 billion funding announced last year, every local authority will see an increase in their high needs funding over the next two years.’

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