Today’s news review looks at coverage of calls for more funding for children and young people with high needs, and the apprenticeship levy.
Today, Thursday 30 March, the Local Government Association (LGA) said that if schools face funding pressures, pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) may be adversely affected.
This warning was picked up by the Independent, the Mirror and the TES, which all reported accurately that we are in fact investing £5.3 billion in 2016/17 for children and young people with high needs.
The LGA warn that children with high needs could miss out on a mainstream education if schools face cost pressures. It is important, however, to point out that we are investing heavily in ensuring these children receive a well-rounded, inclusive education.
We have consulted on how schools – both special and mainstream – are funded, to make sure funding is allocated more fairly. Under our proposals, no local authority will lose high needs funding and they will continue to have some flexibility to transfer funding from their schools to their high needs budgets.
Schools are already funded to support pupils with special education needs and disability and local authorities should provide additional funding when the cost of doing so is high. This year, we provided local authorities with £92.5 million of additional funding for high needs this year and have confirmed a further £130 million next year.
We also set aside £23m 2016-17 to help local authorities conduct a strategic review of their special educational provision, and implement any changes. Where a local authority’s high needs improvement plans require capital funding to build new places or improve existing ones, the costs could be supported by the new £215m special provision capital fund. This investment was welcomed by the sector.
A Department for Education spokesperson said
This Government is determined to build a country where everyone can fulfil their potential. This is backed by a £5.3billion investment in 2016/17 for children and young people with high needs, which is protected in real terms in this Parliament.
We have also announced a £215 million fund for councils across the country to improve and create more special provision. This will help build new classrooms and improve facilities for pupils with special educational needs, so that no child is left behind.
Today, 30 March, there was coverage of a report by recruitment firm Manpower that called for businesses to make sure they understood the implications of the Apprenticeship Levy.
This was covered by the Press Association and on Radio 4’s Today Programme this morning.
We announced recently that we would be reforming apprenticeships and that from April big business with a wage bill of over £3 million would be paying a levy to be invested in the country’s new apprenticeship system.
We are contacting every employer to tell them about the changes and we continue to engage with thousands of employers about the levy.
Over 60 per cent of the top 1,000 biggest levy-paying employers have already signed up to the apprenticeship service, with over 100 new employers signing up every day on average.
We estimate that just over 6,000 employers will pay 95 per cent of the total levy pot, and we are actively engaging with all of these to make sure they are aware of, and preparing for, the levy.
Furthermore, the National Apprenticeship Service is already working with employers to help them prepare for reforms and on hand to help any employer that wants to take on apprentices. And in April 2016 we published a guide for employers on how they will pay the levy.
A Department for Education Spokesperson said:
Our apprenticeship reforms are about putting employers in the driving seat to ensure they get the skills that are right for them.
Since we opened our online apprenticeship service in February this year, we have seen more than 100 employers a day signing up to start using their money to invest in home-grown skills. We are continuing to contact all levy-paying employers to make sure they can get the best out of the system.