I want all children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) to achieve well at school, be able to go on to college or university, and to live happy and fulfilled adult lives in the future.
Currently, Central Bedfordshire Council use the local funding formula to estimate the number of children with special education needs a school is likely to have. They are required to allocate sufficient funds to schools to enable them to meet the additional cost of pupils with SEND, up to £6,000 per pupil per year. If the additional costs exceed this amount the local authorities allocate top-up funding from their high needs budget. Local authorities can also allocate additional funding from their high needs budget to schools that have a disproportionate number of SEND children.
I am delighted that the Department for Education has continued to increase the high needs funding for children and young people with the most complex needs, with over £8 billion having been provided for the 2021-22 financial year. In the financial year 2022-23, this is increasing by £1 billion to over £9.1 billion.
The Spending Review 2021 announced £2.6 billion over the spending review period to create more than 30,000 new high-quality school places for children with SEND nationally, more than tripling current capital funding levels to over £900 million by 2024-25.
This funding will create high-quality new school places in mainstream and special schools, improve suitability and accessibility of existing buildings, and fund new special and alternative provision free schools to drive up standards for pupils across England, including in the North.
In addition, the Government is currently reviewing the current SEND system, having identified that it does not consistently deliver the outcomes we all want and expect for children and young people with SEND, their families, and the people and services who support them. The review continues at pace, and I understand that the Government is committed to testing its proposals via full public consultation in this quarter of 2022.
I am also aware that the Department for Education is committed to ensuring that children with special education needs and disabilities, including those with visual impairments receive the support they need to achieve in their early years, at school and at college. As such, it is a legal requirement for qualified teachers of classes of pupils who have sensory impairments to hold the relevant mandatory qualification for sensory impairment (MQSI). To offer MQSIs, I understand that providers must be approved by the Secretary of State for Education.
The Department for Education intends to develop a new approval process to determine providers of MQSIs from the start of the 2022-23 academic year. This will mean that there will be a steady supply of teachers of children with visual, hearing, and multi-sensory impairment, in both specialist and mainstream settings.
Finally, the Government is currently conducting a consultation on the special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and alternative provision (AP) system in England. More information can be found through the following link: