Sheffield schools at “breaking point” over funding

Sheffield schools are at “breaking point” and are struggling to help children with special needs and disabilities.

Thursday, 11th April 2019, 4:25 pm
Updated Thursday, 11th April 2019, 4:29 pm
Coun Jayne Dunn, pictured with councillors Jack Scott and Mazher Iqbal, has written to the Government over fairer school funding

Coun Jayne Dunn, cabinet member for education, has written to the Government over the “enormous financial difficulties” facing mainstream Sheffield schools.

She says the Government’s National Funding Formula (NFF) does little to resolve the problems facing many schools in providing suitable special educational needs and disability (SEND) provision.

In a letter to education secretary Damian Hinds MP, she writes: “I want to highlight with you the enormous financial difficulties mainstream Sheffield schools are under, and that it is becoming increasingly difficult for these schools to support SEND provision, leading to an increased need for specialist provision.

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“Our main concern is about the pace of implementation and, therefore, the delay in receiving the full anticipated funding allocation.

“The transitional period, leading towards full implementation, is critical for the financial position of Sheffield schools. The time being taken to phase in the new national formula is putting our schools at risk financially.

“The full implementation date has not yet been confirmed and is subject to the next National Spending Review. In the meantime, Sheffield schools and their pupils are losing out on funding that they would have received had it been implemented sooner.”

Education funding for under 16s is divided into two blocks – the schools block for mainstream school pupils and the high-needs block, used to pay for pupils with a statement of special education needs or an education, health and care plan.

For the high-needs block, Sheffield schools should receive £61.05m if the NFF had been fully implemented.

However in 2019/20 they will receive £57.35m – the impact of phased implementation means Sheffield’s high-needs pupils will not receive the extra £3.7m.

Because of these budget pressures, mainstream schools are struggling to support SEND provision leading to an increased need for specialist provision.

Sheffield also lags behind other core cities in funding for high-needs pupils. While Newcastle gets £693 funding per pupil and Manchester gets £657, Sheffield only receives £510.

Coun Dunn adds in her letter: “I kindly request that you reconsider your earlier rejection to speed up the implementation of the NFF, as well as agree to meet with leaders from Sheffield’s education community and I to discuss what more can be done for SEND funding.

“Sheffield schools are struggling right now, they cannot wait for the ‘full’ implementation of the NFF for desperately needed resources – they are already at breaking point.”