The money to support children with special educational needs and disabilities in Gloucestershire is now at a £7million overspend.
The rise has come from last year’s final overspend of £2million being carried into the 2019/20 budget, which includes a starting deficit of £4.26million.
A Gloucestershire County Council officer told the Schools Forum, a public meeting of some of the county’s headteachers and governors, a “large chunk” of the increase has come from a rise in costs for education, health and care plans (EHCP).
The EHC plans set out a child’s needs and the support to which they are entitled.
According to a council report, the highest spending above budget for EHCPs is for pupils in colleges and further education – an overspend of £630,000.
In primary schools the overspend for EHCPs is £200,000 and in secondary it is £100,000, while early years has been spent according to budget.
The news comes after the Government announced last month an extra £700million for special needs funding.
Philip Haslett, head of education and strategy at the county council, told members the extra money “will not fix the rise in EHCP costs”.
Speaking in the meeting today, he said: “There is a good chunk of money coming our way for high needs, but it will not fix this rise. We are seeing an increase of 300 extra EHCPs every year.”
Tim Browne, director of education at the authority, added that an individual EHCP costs the county council £6,000 “before we have given a child any of the support.”
Headteacher of Innsworth Primary School, Lisa Jones, was concerned that many children with special needs and disabilities need EHCPs but aren’t getting them.
She said: “I know a headteacher who has a child with a EHCP but says they have five others who definitely also need it.”
The officers re-iterated that changes are being looked at to the system to bring down the costs of EHCPs.