Friday, 17 February 2012

Children With Special Needs Miss Out As Academies Cash In

Schools converting to academies in Cambridgeshire have been cashing in at the expense of pupils who need extra help because of their special needs.

The Children and Young People's Scrutiny panel has been told that services will be reduced for disabled children, for young people in care and for those with special needs.

An officer report said that “services will be spread more thinly” and “lower levels of need will not  receive support”. There will also be a reduction in specialist teachers who support primary age children with special needs and a cut in family support packages.

These cuts are necessary because the government is making a general reduction in funding to local authorities but also because the county's budget has been top-sliced by £3.1 million pounds to give extra funding to the new academies.

“This is desperately unfair,” said Lib Dem Education spokesman, Peter Downes. “Surely it is wrong to be moving funding away from those who need it most in order to give extra funding to those who need it least. The way the extra money has been allocated to academies has given them far more than they need to replace the services they are no longer getting from the council.”

At the Scrutiny Panel, Cllr Downes challenged Cllr Harty, Cabinet Member for Education, to approach the academies to give back some of their extra cash to reduce the service cuts.

“'If we are 'all in this together', now is the time for some altruism from the academies,” said Cllr Downes.

Notes for editor:

There are currently 32 academies in Cambridgeshire. Since they became academies, they will have received by March 2013, on top of their normal funding, an extra £13.8 million pounds to enable them to buy in the services they no longer get from Cambridgeshire County Council. Most estimates are that this about three times more than they need.

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