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'Special educational needs funding remains a serious concern in Brent'

PUBLISHED: 10:08 23 January 2019

Brent Cllr Mili Patel, responsible for children's safeguarding at Brent Council. Photographer: Justin Thomas

Brent Cllr Mili Patel, responsible for children's safeguarding at Brent Council. Photographer: Justin Thomas

© 2018 Justin Thomas

Special educational needs funding remains a "serious concern", according to Brent 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 (special education needs and disabilities) children.

Once divvied up, Brent’s share of the extra cash comes to just £800,000 each year in 2019 and 2020, an amount that will still leave councillors in the education department with headaches.

The financial pressures on the High Needs education block at the council are £3m per annum and, since 2015, Brent has had a 26 per cent increase in the number of children who receive support through an education, health and care plan.

SEND chief Cllr Mili Patel said: “While the additional funding is welcome, the situation remains a serious concern.

“The council has a legal duty to identify and assess the special educational needs and disabilities of children and young people within the local area and ensure that, once identified, those children and young people receive support to help them achieve the best possible outcomes.

“The additional funding that has been allocated will be used to make sure the council continues to support the growing number of children and young people with SEND, and to assist them in achieving the best possible outcomes.”

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

“We recognise that the high needs budget faces significant pressures and this additional investment will help councils to manage those pressures, whilst being able to invest to provide more support,” Mr Hinds said.

“Every school or college 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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