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Council ‘under huge financial pressure to support children with special needs’

PUBLISHED: 10:34 04 February 2019

Cllr Danny Hassell is the borough's cabinet member for children. Picture: Mike Brooke

Cllr Danny Hassell is the borough's cabinet member for children. Picture: Mike Brooke

Mike Brooke

Tower Hamlets is under huge financial pressure to support the growing number of kids with special needs, according to the council.

As part of the government’s bid to the alleviate the strain on town hall budgets across the capital, £21million has been awarded to councils to help provide specialist support for SEND children.

Once divvied up, the council’s share of the extra cash comes to £724,000 each year in 2019-20, an amount which will still leave councillors in the education department with headaches.

Education chief Cllr Danny Hassell: “This council is committed to offering high quality support to children and families with special educational needs and disabilities.

“Our new SEND strategy sets out how we will improve identification and assessment as well as preparation for adulthood for children with special needs and disabilities.

“The announcement of additional funding from the government offers only a fraction of the current level of shortfall on the high needs funding.

“We support calls for the government to link the high needs funding block to the numbers of pupils.”

Education secretary Damien Hinds has also pledged to create more specialist places in mainstream places, give more special free schools the green light and to train more educational psychologists.

“We recognise that the high needs budget faces significant pressures and this additional investment will help councils to manage them, while being able to invest in more support,” he said.

“Every school should be one for a young person with special educational needs; every teacher should be equipped to teach them, and families need to feel supported.”

There will also be an expansion of the funding to train more educational psychologists, who are responsible for assessing children’s needs and providing support.

From 2020 there will be three more training rounds and an increase in the number of trainees from 160 to at least 206.

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