Posted on Tuesday 9th February 2021
Councils will be able to ask developers for more money to offset pressure on schools created by house building.
Councils will be able to ask housebuilders for more money to offset pressure on schools, following updated Government guidance.
Builders are already expected, where necessary, to make a financial contribution to local communities to offset the effects of new housing developments on public services including roads, school places and health provision.
Now, updated guidance from the Department of Education (DfE) means that local authorities can seek more funding to support the cost of Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) provision in schools. And, separately, councils can also factor in the cost of providing additional home-to-school transport for those who live a certain distance from their nearest school.
Jonathan Price, Staffordshire County Council’s Cabinet member for Education and SEND, said:
It is essential that as Staffordshire grows we ensure there are enough school places available for children in the county.
Therefore, it’s vital that we assess the effect of every new housing development and ensure that we mitigate the impact on school places locally.”
Staffordshire has more than 120,000 children attending a mainstream or special school and the County Council has a legal duty to provide sufficient places so every child who wishes to attend a publicly funded school can do so.
Currently 94 per cent of children attend their parents’ first-choice primary school and 93 per cent their first-choice secondary school.
About 13.5 per cent of Staffordshire pupils have special educational needs, with around 11 per cent of those attending a mainstream school and the remainder a special school.
A report to be considered by the County Council’s Cabinet next week says that the DfE recognises that more pupils with SEND are attending mainstreams schools with appropriate levels of additional support, rather than a special school.
The DfE guidance adds:
It is reasonable and fair to seek developer contributions for SEN (sic) provision in direct proportion to the needs arising from planned housing development.”
Over the last three years there have been planning applications for an average of 5,000 new houses a year, producing an expected additional 21 primary pupils with SEND and 44 secondary pupils with SEND – and if the new arrangements had already been in place the local authority could have asked for a contribution of £5 million.
The report also says that in a nine-month ‘snapshot’, five planning applications would have resulted in requests for a potential £400,000 towards providing free home-to-school transport for those entitled to it
Jonathan Price added:
We are moving towards a position where all children with special educational needs and disabilities should receive the right support to study at their local school or place of education if they wish, so we need to use all the tools at our disposal to provide the right services in the right place.”