Council refutes claims of special educational needs cuts in Lincolnshire

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A council has refuted claims that its spending on children and young people with special educational needs in Lincolnshire has been drastically cut.

The claims were made by the National Education Union (NEU), which said schools in the county faced a funding shortfall of £224,500 in their budgets.

In in 2015/16, that budget stood at £65.6 million, adjusted to today’s terms for inflation, which amounted to £20,204 per pupil. But in 2018/19, although the budget had increased by 25 per cent, the number of pupils needing support had gone up by 39 per cent to 4,560.

The NEU estimated this meant a real-terms cut of £55 per-pupil funding.

However, Lincolnshire County Council insisted it was actually investing in special needs education, spearheaded by a £50 million project to improve support in schools.

Coun Patricia Bradwell, executive councillor for children’s services, said: “This project is to ensure special schools have the right facilities to meet all types of need.

“It will also include the building of a new school and expanding others, while special-school satellites will be introduced on some mainstream sites.”

She said this would meet the increased demand for school places and ensure pupils could attend their nearest school, rather than make long journeys, sometimes even outside the county.

However, Coun Bradwell did accept that the funding the council needs for special educational needs was “under significant strain”. She added: “although the government has temporarily responded to local authorities with additional funding, it will need to address future funding levels in its next spending review.”