Following the publication of our ‘Hide and Seek’ report last month, I have been working with Sharon Hodgson MP and Chair for the APPG for Dyslexia/SpLD. Together, we asked a question to government to find out what financial support is available to help schools access SEND professionals.

Sharon raised the question to ask:

The Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to ensure SEND specialists are available to schools to support pupils who require additional help through (a) the national tutoring programme and (b) other programmes.

Vicky Ford MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (DfE) replied: “Headteachers will decide how this premium is spent. For example, this might be on educational psychologists, speech and language therapy or other activities required to support children in catching up”.

The outcome is an important message for school leaders and SENCOs. I believe it’s the first time government has acknowledged that catch-up premium funding can be used for SEND professionals.

The guidance is pretty scant on what catch-up premium funding can be used for. Schools are sign posted to the EEF’s coronavirus support guide for schools which is a helpful summary, but does not address the value of SEND professionals or other forms of specialist support.

Ford goes on to say, “All schools should use the catch-up premium funding [sic] to prioritise support for particular pupils, including children with SEND or education, health and care plans (EHCPs)”. Which is a pretty direct statement to leaders given that the needs of pupils with SEND over the last six months have been conspicuous by their absence.

It would be great if government was so unequivocal in all its communications.

Updated guidance for ‘special schools and other specialist settings’ amended on Friday also highlights the changes made since SEND laws were relaxed in March. The relaxation of Section 42 of the Children and Families Act has ceased, although how local authorities will have magically recovered loss of capacity (and cash) in the last few weeks is unclear to say the least.

I’ve written to the Minister asking her to make sure this message is included in the next round of updates, but in the meantime please share this news with your colleagues.

Chris Rossiter

Chief Executive, DYT

Chris originally trained as an applied psychologist and has worked across the private, public and charitable sector for over 15 years. Has has particular expertise in special educational needs and disability, and organisational psychology. He is a primary Chair of Governors, Trustee of the Astrea Academy Trust, member of the literacy sub-committee of the Hastings Opportunity Area and Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.