Lack of funding is heaping extra pressure on teaching those with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) across Warwickshire.
That was the cross-party message from county councillors as they tried to set a four-year strategy, part of which is promoting inclusion in mainstream schools.
A report to the latest cabinet meeting highlighted some of the public’s concerns, gathered from a survey of 274 staff, parents and young people.
One of them, who works in primary education, admitted: “Schools that do fight for the support of these children are having to cut costs in other areas to support these pupils - the school then attracts more of these pupils because they do a good job to support them but the funding just does not support the actual needs of these children.”
Council leader Cllr Izzi Seccombe (Con Stour and the Vale) said: “The concern is about the funding and the ability to deliver what we need to deliver. This has been an in-year budget pressure for us over the last 12 months.
"It is not unique to Warwickshire and the big pressure is the massive increase in demand for special education needs and our ability to meet that demand in the manner than our public expect us to.”
She explained there had been a great deal of lobbying to secure extra funding from central government.
Cllr Alan Webb (Lab Benn) said it was important that the strategy was adhered to.
“This is the right direction but we need to make sure that it’s just not words,” he explained. “Our real challenge is being able to demonstrate how well we are able to meet our ideology.”
And there were also concerns from Cllr Jerry Roodhouse (Lib Dem Eastlands) who added: “This is not going to go away and the pressure is building. With the way that academies work and the pots of money that go into separate silos, we now don’t have the flexibility to shift the resources how we used to.”
The report explained that inclusion was at the heart of the new strategy and that the vast majority of children benefited from such an approach rather than being taught in ‘specialist’ settings.
It added that resources would be a major constraint to achieving this change but concluded ‘the commitment of this strategy is to work together to deliver the best system of education, health and social care for learners with SEND within our allocated resources’.
Councillors at the cabinet meeting gave their unanimous support to the strategy.