Schools’ Forum: high needs must be adequately funded

The impact of cuts is one of the fundamental issues discussed at schools’ forum (SF). Our representative Keith Manville gives us an overview.

“We have a flawed national education system that measures school success based on league table position and exam results. This forces schools to drop challenging pupils to maintain or improve their position. The greatest number of exclusions come from academies, creating an additional burden on the high needs block. We should be encouraging inclusion in our schools, not exclusion. How we treat the most vulnerable in our society is a measure of how civilised our society is.

“We should challenge the preoccupation with target attainment levels and accept that some pupils will show progress at a slower rate, but with more support would be more successful in mainstream schools.

“Changes to teacher training would help build more resilience to manage students who are struggling rather than forcing them into special needs schools because the school didn’t understand the student’s needs, usually perceived as disruption or bad behaviour.

“There’s a £4.5m funding shortfall for 2018/19, projected to be a total of £16.3m by the end of 2021. The council could choose to write this off by using reserves, but at some point local tax payers might be faced with the choice of having to pay more to support local schools or for example, to fix potholes.”