Money’s Too Tight To Mention

Financial crisis

With the future of funding in schools very much in the forefront of our minds at the moment, especially the implications for cuts and the implications for SEND, I felt it time to highlight what this actually looks like from here, and it is not pretty.

It is clear for all to see that schools have already been making cuts and making do, some already down to the bare bones, which has exacerbated the current situation as we have tried to make it work for the children and got on with the job at hand. This has had a domino effect with more cuts coming and we are at breaking point (some have already reached that and beyond).

I have been doing some sums. Cushions to hide behind at the ready folks!

We have six children with either an EHC Plan or Statement (one more to transition). All six children need 1:1 support and all but one have lunchtime supervision. We have fifty children identified as School Support. Three of those are currently being assessed for EHC Plans.

Our delegated SEN allocation is £80,193. We meet the cost of the first £10,000 of every EHCP/Statement (£4,000 that we get for every child and £6,000 from the Delegated SEN funding). So that is £36,000 gone from the delegated budget right there. If the three who are being assessed receive an EHC Plan, that is another £18,000 to be deducted. All six receive top up funding, the highest being £5,555. Adding together the costs of the staff and Lunchtime Supervisors, this is a lot more than £11,555. When the costs for all six are deducted from the Delegated Funding this leaves £26,193 to support the other children who need interventions. That is £523.86 per child per year.

Let us take an example of one child. I know this is not a typical example but it is real and we want this child to be the best he can be, no matter what. This child has physical disabilities. He is paralysed from the chest down. I won’t go into details but there are other complicating conditions which are life threatening. There are physical moving and handling maneuvers and also medical procedures staff have to administer several times a day, all requiring two members of staff. Academically, he is age related and mainstream is the correct place for him.

It should not come down to money to provide the best possible education and care for him but it does.

Here goes:

1 Support Assistant for the year:           £13,450

Lunchtime Supervisor for the year:       £2,725

1 Support Assistant for 3 hrs a day:        £7,111

So that is £23,286 just for the staff.

In addition to this, specialist equipment is needed for this child to access his learning and move around the class and school. School can apply to the SEN Panel for the cost any single piece of equipment that costs more that £1,000. So far we have applied for and received a height adjustable changing bench and a second wheelchair with table. All well and good. However, we also need:

  • a couple of height adjustable tables; one for him to sit at and one for him to stand at, with his frame (cannot find any that have the adjustment range to cover both)
  • a sand tray that he can access whilst in his wheelchair
  • an OT therapy bench
  • a floor table

None of these cost more than £1,000 but they do together. We cannot apply for funding by putting them together, it is only for individual items.

I know that not all children with SEND will cost this much but this has implications that are far reaching and affect all children in school, not just those who, through no fault of their own or ours, have special needs or disabilities.

This is one child in one school.

There are many others.

We should not have to compromise. Ever!

 

Walk a mile in their shoes…

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I am a teacher of children, all children who attend my school.

I am a learner. I learn from children, all the children who attend my school.

I have taught and learned for 28 years in a range of mainstream primaries.

I am a better teacher, a better person for having learned from every child I have ever taught.

Every day is a challenge in its own right, in the right way. For me.

For the children I teach and learn from, for many it is a challenge in the wrong way.

None of us know what they go through at home before coming to school or after.

Do they get enough sleep?
Do they have a healthy diet?
Do they have a quiet space to do homework?
Do they get attention from their parents?
Do they get bullied by their siblings?
Are they playing out and getting into trouble?
Are they young carers?
Do they get themselves up and into school?
Do parents put unrealistic pressure on them to excel and compete?
Is there worse going on that we don’t know about?
Do their parents even know they exist at times at home?
Have their family had an argument with their friend’s family and they have been told not to speak to them?

The list of questions is endless.

After an incident one lunchtime, a colleague in the staffroom said, “He wouldn’t have spoken to a teacher like that, if he was mine!”. My reaction: “That’s the issue. He has not had the benefit of a safe and settled home life, with love and structure. He has seen domestic violence”.

Who are we to judge?

Walk a mile in their shoes…

School is often the only structure and routine in their lives. The only place where they have strict boundaries and they struggle against this sometimes. Being segregated would be another case of being let down. We need to understand the triggers behind the behaviours and put strategies in place to support the children, over time, to self identify the triggers and make the right choices in dealing with them.

The LA has removed the word behaviour from their matrix used to diagnose levels of need and expect the underlying issues to be identified when seeking support. This is a positive step, in my opinion, as it stops the labelling and encourages investigation, as Chris Chivers speaks about in this blog.

I am a teacher, learner and investigator.

So are all children I teach, learn and investigate alongside.

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