Bristol

Special needs education in Bristol could get extra funding

Image of a teacher with a young boy Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Bristol City Council were not able to complete any SEND applications from April to September 2019

A council is proposing an extra £1.3m in funding after criticism of its support for vulnerable children.

In November 2019 Bristol City Council was found to have failed to plan for Special Education Needs and Disability (SEND) children.

A month later an Ofsted/Care Quality Commission (CQC) report said the city's performance was "disturbingly poor".

One campaigner said the increased spending was welcome but unlikely to have an impact.

December's Ofsted/CQC report was particularly damning of Bristol City Council, saying inspectors had found "significant leadership weaknesses".

The council said on 14 January the proposed new £1.3m was being allocated in response to the findings.

Schools will be able to access the money via the Higher Needs Block - a budget specifically for children and young people with additional needs.

Councillor Anna Keen, cabinet member for education and skills, said: "Funding for SEND is a priority for us and we will continue to ask the government for fair and appropriate levels of funding that match our needs in Bristol.

"However, this is of immense importance and we must act now, so are looking to make the necessary adjustments in our budget to ensure we can fund the programme now and drive improvements for the future."

Image caption Jen Smith says she doubts the new funding will have an impact

Jen Smith, from Bristol Independent SEND Community, said she had little faith the extra money would make a difference.

"Additional funding for SEND is always welcome, but it's difficult to be optimistic when you are immersed in the system and see so much waste and so many poor choices," said Ms Smith, who has two autistic children.

"The proposed money is unlikely to create additional special school places which children in the city are desperate for. "

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