South west London schools to feel effect of cuts to special needs support services

Cutbacks are being forced on students with mental health and special needs, according to a survey published yesterday.

The Association of School and College Leaders asked more than 1000 head teachers, deputies and assistants about the impact of funding pressures on support services.

It found that, out of a 1,054 respondents, a staggering 58% said special needs support had to be cut back over the past 12 months.

Many schools across south west London providing specialist services for children will be affected and face continuing pressures to make savings.

Mental health support, including specialist counselling and educational psychologists, was deeply affected, with ASCL revealing that 50% of senior staff imposed reductions.

Amber Cowburn, campaigns manager at children’s mental health charity YoungMinds, highlighted the on-going issue.

She said: “There is a mental health crisis in our classrooms, and all the evidence suggests that the situation is getting worse.

“Meanwhile schools are facing budget cuts, and the new data shows the worrying trend of head teachers coming under pressure to cut well-being services.”

In December, a National Audit Office report stated that schools in England had to save £1.1 billion in 2016-17.

This figure is expected to increase to £3 billion in 2019-20, equivalent to 8% of the total schools budget.

Ms Cowburn added: “The well-being of students should be a fundamental priority for all schools.

“That’s why the government must urgently rebalance the education system to make sure that all schools have the resources they need to provide the well-being support their students deserve.”

Dedicated departments established in numerous academies and community schools will also be impacted upon.

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