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Special schools underfunded

PUBLISHED: 12:39 29 June 2002 | UPDATED: 12:12 03 March 2010

SHOCKING new figures have revealed "colossal underfunding" of the county's special needs schools.

New figures have shown that authorities in other counties in the region spend around 50 per cent more on each special needs pupil than Suffolk County Council.

SHOCKING new figures have revealed "colossal underfunding" of the county's special needs schools.

New figures have shown that authorities in other counties in the region spend around 50 per cent more on each special needs pupil than Suffolk County Council.

Bury St Edmunds MP David Ruffley has demanded an explanation for what he has described as "a particularly worrying set of figures".

In a letter to David Peachey, the county council's director of education, Mr Ruffley has asked him to "explain immediately the colossal underfunding of our special schools, compared with neighbouring shire counties".

Figures, published in the House of Commons debate record Hansard, show that in 2001-2002 Suffolk spent £10,010 per pupil, while Norfolk spent £16,180, and Essex £14,740.

Mr Ruffley said: "It reveals a very worrying position - funding per pupil in special schools in 2001-2002 in Suffolk is significantly lower than neighbouring counties in East Anglia.

"I am extremely disappointed that the allocation per pupil should be so many thousands of pounds lower than other counties in our region.

"I simply cannot believe that the needs of pupils in special schools in Suffolk warrant such a drastically lower amount of resource than other shire counties," Mr Ruffley added.

A county council spokeswoman said it was "committed to providing all children with special educational needs the most appropriate environment for their education" and that discussions were currently underway to change the way funding is allocated.

The new system, already decided for mainstream schools and under consideration for special schools, would see funds decided on the needs of the pupils rather the simply the number of pupils.

Mrs Upson, whose school is currently in negotiation with the authority, said that would be a "fairer system of funding".

Tony Lewis, member of Suffolk County Council's executive committee and portfolio holder for children and young people, explained that costs were kept down by educating as many pupils as possible in mainstream education, with only 0.48% of children in the county attending special schools.

"We believe that our levels of funding for children with special educational needs compares favourably to other local education authorities (LEAs).

"In response to most parents' views, the county council has a policy of

educating children with special needs in mainstream schools wherever possible."

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