We congratulate Gavin Williamson on his appointment to the office of Secretary of State for Education. He takes on the role in the midst of an education funding crisis – which is biting especially hard for the whole FE sector and for learners with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) in particular.
Despite the best intentions of the SEND reforms, a shortage of funding is resulting in decision-making driven by financial considerations rather than young people’s best interests or the requirements of the Children and Families Act. Families are having to resort to the tribunal system to overturn these decisions and get the education and support to which the young people are entitled – with 89% of appeal hearings finding in their favour. The financial – and human – costs of this adversarial approach are enormous.
We would urge the Secretary of State to prioritise increasing
- the base rate for further education funding, in line with the Education Committee’s recent recommendations,
- the high needs funding block to address the shortfall of nearly £2bn faced by local councils
We look forward to working with the Secretary of State to help him address this funding crisis as a matter of urgency.