New funding announced for 30,000 special school places must be accompanied by investment in early intervention

  • National Children’s Bureau welcomes investment and looks to Spending Review for shift in thinking towards early intervention
  • Treasury must prioritise early intervention as well as specialist provision if it is to #BuildBackChildhood and deliver the best value for money.

On Monday, The Sun revealed that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will ring-fence £2.6 billion to create more than 30,000 special school places for children with special educational needs and disabilities. With so many children struggling to get the right school placement any new investment is welcome, provided local authorities and parents are closely involved in decisions about new school places.

We applaud the government’s intention. However, this investment is not a long-term solution and may do nothing to take pressure off local authorities who are increasingly struggling to balance the books.

Public services are caught in a cycle of increasing demand and late intervention. Whether in mental health services[1], the SEND system[2], or children’s social care[3], spending is becoming ever more concentrated on the most specialist types of support. This means less resource for early intervention, leading to further escalation of needs and children often being placed away from their families.

This is particularly true of children with SEND, where mainstream schools are finding it harder to be inclusive. Investment is needed much earlier on in the system to ensure their needs can be met close to home and in the mainstream system wherever possible.

Capital investment in specialist provision will do nothing to alleviate the steady erosion in early intervention spend.

NCB believes this commitment, on top of the £500 million already announced for children and families, marks a clear intention to invest in the future which we welcome. However, only by taking a strategic approach, and prioritising early intervention as well as specialist provision, will we deliver the best outcomes for children and the best value for money.

For more information contact:

Matthew Dodd
Head of Policy and Public Affairs
National Children’s Bureau

M: 07738 487 770

E: [email protected]

 

[1] Office of the Children’s Commissioner (2020); https://www.childrenscommissioner.

gov.uk/report/who-are-they-where-are-they-2020    

 

[2] Department for Education (2019); https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/

uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/805014/SEN2_2019_text.pd f

 

[3] Children’s Services Funding Alliance (2021); https://www.ncb.org.uk/about-us/media-

centre/news-opinion/councils-forced-halve-spending-early-help