Hackney Deputy Mayor to scrap SEND funding changes – but five per cent cuts will go ahead

Deputy Mayor Anntoinette Bramble (left) will speak about SEND at tonight’s cabinet meeting. Photograph: Hackney Council and Hackney Citizen

Hackney Council is set to formally scrap controversial changes to special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and set up a working group with teachers and parents to fix the “funding crisis”.

Deputy Mayor Anntoinette Bramble is announcing a new SEND Task and Finish group to work on SEND funding ahead of tonight’s (19 March) cabinet meeting.

However, she has also restated the council’s plans to cut high needs SEND funding for schools by five per cent from April.

Last month parents, teachers and children held a rally outside Hackney Town Hall against cuts and changes to high needs SEND funding.

In a stormy council meeting on 21 February, the Deputy Mayor ditched proposals for an “additional funding” approach to SEND, after a public consultation in December found 81 per cent were against it.

Tonight the cabinet will be invited to formally scrap the proposals.

The Deputy Mayor will now work with teachers and parents to come up with an alternative way to plug the £6 million funding shortfall.

Children held a rally outside the Town Hall last month. Photograph: Adam Barnett

Deputy Mayor Bramble, in a report for the meeting, writes: “We have listened to the feedback received during the recent consultation, and in useful meetings with parents and teachers, and as a result I am recommending that we do not go forward with the proposed changes in their current form.

“Instead we will work together to find a way to ensure pupils with SEND continue to receive the support they need, but in a way that is sustainable in the long term.”

She goes on: “Following feedback, we have agreed to establish a SEND funding Task and Finish group with relevant stakeholders to look at how to develop SEND funding arrangements for the future.

“We are committed to supporting all the SEND children and their families in our borough.

“It is our hope that a co-production process, which engages with all stakeholders, can deliver policy proposals that reflect the current SEND situation in the borough and continue the high level of service we provide, while ensuring we can fulfil our financial obligations to all our residents.”

Deputy Mayor Bramble also repeated her call for a joint campaign with parents to force the government to change course.