Bristol City Council’s High Needs Block Crisis Continues

  • Predicted shortfall of £13.4m by the end of March 2022
  • Bristol Schools Forum flags concerns to Cabinet

Bristol City Council’s High Needs Block – school funding for Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (Send) – continues to cause concern.

Papers to Cabinet shows a predicted overspend of £13.4m by the end of March 2022.

The High Needs Block budget was set at £69.053m for 2021/22 and agreed by Cabinet at a meeting last night, but Bristol Schools Forum raised concerns about the forthcoming deficit.

Councillor Anna Keen told Cabinet that the feedback from Schools Forum had ‘important things flagged’ that Cabinet should ‘consider’ when making their decision.

She said: “You’ll notice in it that the high needs budget continues to have considerable pressure, and we are grateful again that there has been money moved from schools block into support that. There will be a continuing DSG management plan that will be presented regularly to schools forum and to Cabinet to look at ways of ensuring that that money is being spent as effectively as possible. That will also be coproduced with families of Send and parents and carers of Send children in their schools and settings.”

The High Needs Block received a transfer from the Schools Block of £1.309M for the 2020/21 budget. This funding was ring-fenced for the Education Transformation Programme – a series of programmes to address issues and failings found by the Ofsted and CQC join Send inspection in October 2019.

However, the funding is not to support the general expenditure of the High Needs Block which is continuing to experience pressures particularly around Top Up funding.

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