The government has announced £280 million funding for special educational needs and disabilities provision.
The funding will be allocated to local authorities to enable them to create new places in early years settings, schools, academies and colleges. The funding can be used to contribute to the cost of creating a whole new special school, or by improving accessibility, such as installing ramps, handrails or ceiling hoists to existing provision.
Minister for the School System Baroness Berridge said: “It is so important that all children and young people, whatever their background, are able to attend a good school that helps them thrive and gives them the building blocks they need to go on to fulfil their potential.
“For pupils with more complex needs or disabilities, it is especially important that the right facilities and support are in place at whatever school they attend, so they can learn in a modern, adaptable environment.
“This funding will help councils provide targeted support to level up outcomes for some of their most vulnerable pupils,” she added.
The funding is in addition to the government’s continued investment in the Free Schools programme, which has seen 59 special and 49 Alternative Provision free schools open across the country since 2010. A further 80 specialist settings or alternative provision projects are set to open in the coming years.
The investment follows £365 million allocated through the Special Provision Capital Fund to create places and improve facilities for pupils with SEND across 2018 to 2021.
An ongoing SEND Review is looking at ways to make sure the system is consistent, high-quality and integrated across education, health and care.
Children and Families Minister Vicky Ford said: “Every child or young person with SEND should go to school feeling confident that they will get the tailored support they need at school, and every teacher should be equipped with the right facilities to teach those pupils.
“We have already increased the high needs budget by nearly a quarter over the past two years. This additional investment will enable local authorities to invest more in creating excellent school places or enhancing existing provision so that pupils with additional needs and disabilities get the same opportunities as any other,” added Ms Ford.
Professor Adam Boddison, Chief Executive of the SEND charity NASEN, said: “Given the growing demand for high-quality specialist provision, this increase in high needs funding is a welcome investment. I hope that Local Authorities will work in partnership with schools, specialist settings and families so that this funding is targeted to secure long term benefits for learners with SEND.”