Special Educational Needs: West Midlands

Department for Education written question – answered at on 17 June 2022.

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Photo of Stuart Anderson Stuart Anderson Conservative, Wolverhampton South West

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to increase SEND provision in the Black Country.

Photo of Will Quince Will Quince The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

In March 2022, the department announced High Needs Provision Capital Allocations (HNPCA) amounting to over £1.4 billion of new investment. This funding is to support local authorities to deliver new places for the 2023/24 and 2024/25 academic years and improve existing provision for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) or who require alternative provision (AP).

This funding forms part of the £2.6 billion the department is investing between 2022 and 2025 and represents a significant, transformational investment in new high needs provision. It will support local authorities to deliver new places in mainstream and special schools, as well as other specialist settings, and will also be used to improve the suitability and accessibility of existing buildings.

Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall, and Wolverhampton collectively received a total of just over £33.9 million through these allocations announced in March 2022 and just under £6.6 million through previous HNPCA allocations announced in April 2021 to deliver new places for the 2022/23 academic year. Information on these allocations can be found published at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/high-needs-provision-capital-allocations. It is ultimately up to each local authority to determine how to best utilise their HNPCA funding to address local priorities.

The department is also supporting local authorities through our ongoing delivery of new special and AP free schools. Sandwell currently has a new special free school in the pipeline and the department has recently launched the ‘How to Apply’ guidance for the 2022 Special and AP free school application waves. These waves are open to all local authorities in England. Guidance can be found online at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/special-free-school-applications and https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/apply-to-open-an-alternative-provision-free-school.

The department is further supporting local authorities to achieve the shared endeavour to secure a financially sustainable high needs system. This includes investment of £9.1 billion high needs revenue funding in 2022/23 (a £1 billion increase from 2021/22), continuing work with local authorities as part of the safety valve programme, the introduction of the Delivering Better Value programme and the recommendations outlined in the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) and Alternative Provision (AP) Green Paper.

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