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Warning of a SEND funding crisis in September for schools and academies

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The Norwich Diocesan Board of Education has warned of a SEND funding crisis in September due to cuts by Norfolk County Council. Meanwhile, a group of Norfolk CEOs, including Richard Cranmer from St Benet’s Multi Academy Trust and Oliver Burwood from DNEAT have written an open letter to Sara Tough at Norfolk County Council expressing their shock and disappointment in the news.

Read the open letter in full here

The Norwich Diocesan Board of Education (DBE) has strategic oversight of 105 Church of England schools and academies across Norfolk and the Waveney Valley. All schools and academies within the Diocesan family are united in their approach to education which is rooted in Christian values and mutual support.

Governors, Trustees, Headteachers and Chief Executive Officers are responsible for running these schools across the Diocesan family. They have made the DBE aware of an intolerable position they have been put in, due to an announcement of a significant reduction in funding for pupils with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND).

Around a quarter of all young people in Norfolk and Waveney attend Church of England schools and academies, predominantly primary schools.

Paul Dunning, is the Director of Education for the Diocese of Norwich. Paul says:

“The announcement on 18 June has been made even worse by the fact that there are only four weeks of term left and adjustments will need to start from September. We are greatly disappointed that Norfolk County Council have made this decision. However, we are also very aware that the national system to fund SEND pupils is broken and that this is an issue for other counties too, not just Norfolk and its schools. We call on all those with decision making power to act swiftly to arrest this crisis.”

He adds:

“We see in the ministry of Jesus in the Gospels and in many passages in the Old Testament that God has a special concern and heart for the vulnerable and marginalised. In ‘Our hope for a flourishing schools system’ published in July 2023 the Church of England Education Office challenged government ‘To prioritise the individual needs of the most vulnerable through a once in a generation reimagination of SEND funding, provision, training and development.’ We wholeheartedly endorse this demand.”

More information

What is SEND funding?

What schools will this affect?

All schools are affected. Whilst a few may have a higher allocation than last year a huge majority find themselves with a significant reduction. The reduction in funding is communicated to individual schools so the Diocesan Board of Education does not have access to the full picture. However, we know for our two academy trusts the reduction is very significant – DNEAT (48% reduction, approaching £1million), St Benet’s (21% reduction, approximately £256,000)

What does it mean in real terms for pupils and staff?

Schools will not be able to pay specialist staff. The support pupils need will not be in place. This will have a negative effect and will almost certainly result in a higher level of pupil exclusions as schools will struggle to enable pupils to learn and keep safe.

There are two Multi Academy Trusts within the Diocesan family: DNEAT and St Benet’s

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