HL Deb 04 April 2001 vol 624 cc124-6WA
Lord Northbourne

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What is their estimate of the total cost and the average cost per child of providing support for children with special educational needs and disabilities in mainstream schools, broken down by type of disability and need and by category of expenditure (capital costs/recurrent costs including additional staffing) in each of the next five years; and [HL1401]

What proportion of the cost of special support services for children with special educational needs and disabilities in mainstream schools during each of the next five years will be borne by:

  1. (a) central government;
  2. (b) local education authorities (or local authorities);
  3. (c) the schools themselves out of existing budgets;
  4. WA 125
  5. (d) fees and charges paid by the parents of the children concerned; and
  6. (e) charitable donations raised by the school. [HL1402]

The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Baroness Blackstone)

The department's funding estimates do not distinguish between different types of pupil. It is for LEAs to allocate resources between schools with regard to local needs and circumstances.

In the current year more than £22 billion is available for the education of school children, including children with special educational needs. Over £1 billion of this is used by LEAs to provide additional support for children with special educational needs. When allocating budgets to schools in 2000–01, LEAs also identified over £1.7 billion as notionally allocated towards special educational needs. However, it is for schools to decide exactly how they spend this funding taking account of their statutory duties towards children with special educational needs.

Our plans allow for a real terms increase in overall education funding per pupil of nearly £750 by 2003–04 compared to 1997–98. This includes the 20 per cent of all pupils who have special educational needs, the overwhelming majority of whom are educated in mainstream schools. We are, however, also committed to a buoyant and vibrant specialist sector, which is demonstrated by the increased funding for pupils at special schoolls. Under this Government there has been an increase of 20 per cent in real terms funding per special school pupil between 1997–98 and 2000–01.

Total capital spending on schools, including PFI credits, will be £8.5 billion for the period 2001–02 to 2003–04. This will add to the £5.4 billion invested since 1997. Capital spending includes the Schools Access Initiative, for which we have already announced £220 million funding over the next three years. This will improve access to mainstream schools for disabled children.

We have also made £82 million of supported expenditure available for special educational needs in next year's Standards Fund (2001–02). This compares to £55 million this year. The fund can be used for a range of activities, including training for staff in special educational needs, improvements in speech and language therapy provision for children with communication difficulties, the provision of information and advice to parents, and the greater inclusion of children with SEN in the mainstream.

As regards support services for children with SEN and disabilities in mainstream schools, these are not directly funded by central government. Funding for schools is allocated and distributed via Education Standard Spending to local education authorities (LEAs), which together with schools, have a duty to ensure appropriate provision for all children in their area, including those with special educational needs. It is for them to decide upon the provision of special support services, taking due account of local circumstances.

In our policy paper, The Role of the Local Education Authority in School Education, issued last October, we made clear that there are a number of essential LEA functions which cannot and should not be discharged by schools. Examples of this include running high quality educational psychology and support teaching services and developing close inter-agency partnerships with health and social services.

The relative amounts spent by schools and LEAs on SEN vary, reflecting different levels of delegated funding.