£34million deal on Kirklees schools funding

Councillors in Kirklees have welcomed a landmark agreement with government over funding for special educational needs and disability (SEND) services in local schools and other education settings. The deal addresses a historic shortfall in budgets for services that support local children with some of the most complex needs.

Since 2016, Kirklees Council has argued that government funding – provided to schools through the Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) – has not kept pace with demands on SEND services in Kirklees schools. Before the agreement with the Department for Education was signed this week, the council was using its budget reserves to support the local area to meet rising demand. In the current year, the deficit stood at £34m. The deal means a £13.5m cash injection this year with further support to eliminate the deficit by 2026/7.

SEND services provide support for children who need extra help to thrive. Nearly 10,000 Kirklees children need support beyond mainstream education due to a disability or other needs. SEND services include help with transport, speech therapy, additional classroom assistance and a range of other services tailored to each child’s needs.

Leader of Kirklees Council, Cllr Shabir Pandor, said:

“I’m pleased we’ve reached this deal with government on some of our most important services. Funding simply hasn’t kept pace with rising demand and it wasn’t sustainable for the council to continue to make up the shortfall. This deal is good for Kirklees children and it’s good for council taxpayers.”

Cabinet Member for Learning, Aspiration and Communities, Cllr Carole Pattison, said:

“The council and its partners are working with children and families to transform the way we deliver SEND services. The changes will mean earlier support for children and families and a partnership approach that will deliver better outcomes for children. The transformation is a key part of the major improvements we’ve seen across our range of children’s services in recent years. This agreement gives us some certainty about planning our resources for this vital work and I welcome it.”