The Liberal Democrats have today condemned the Conservative Government for slashing Reading Borough Council's budget for special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) by £3,500 per pupil in real terms since 2015 (a total cash shortfall of almost £3.9 million), resulting in a loss of specialist provision.
The National Education Union, which published these statistics on 15 April, has warned that local authorities have now reached crisis point.
Although children with the highest special educational needs and disabilities have a legal right to extra support, the National Education Union has warned that funding under the Conservative Government has failed to keep up with increasing costs and rising pupil numbers.
The Liberal Democrats are campaigning for more money for these pupils who possess an Education, Health and Care Plan, saving schools and councils hundreds of millions of pounds.
Liberal Democrat Education Spokesperson, Layla Moran MP, said:
“Everyone deserves the best start in life, and education can be the make or break difference. It is therefore heartbreaking, particularly as a teacher, that Conservative Ministers are failing the children most in need.
“It doesn’t need to be this way. Young people deserve better, and the Liberal Democrats demand better. That’s why we would invest millions more to support children with an Education, Health and Care Plan, freeing up money in the schools budget to provide tailored in-school support for children with less complex additional needs such as dyslexia.”
Reading Liberal Democrat Councillor Meri O'Connell added:
“SEND funding is an investment in a child’s future. It can help someone with a learning difficulty or disability secure a higher paid job, security and independence in later life.
“I know how vital it can be, and so should Conservative Ministers in Whitehall. That is why Liberal Democrats are fighting tooth and nail for the money that will make a real difference for children across Reading.”