Special school bills council nearly £2.5m for one disabled child

Specialist school bills council nearly £2.5million for accommodation, care and teaching of a disabled child with special educational needs

  • Special needs school in Halifax charged Leeds Council £2.5m to teach one pupil

A special needs school has reportedly charged a local council nearly £2.5million to educate just one child with disabilities.

Leeds City Council was charged the sum by Stafford Hall School in Halifax, West Yorkshire, at a time when it needs to find £65million worth of savings ahead of next financial year’s budget.

The place at the school is over several years and includes accommodation on the premises for the child, according to analysis of council data.

The school can take up to 12 children and young people from age 11 to 19 who have ‘autism, severe and complex learning difficulties and who exhibit associated challenging behaviours’.

According to the school’s website, most pupils have experienced serious trauma.

Special needs Stafford Hall School in Halifax, West Yorkshire, has reportedly charged Leeds City Council nearly £2.5million to educate just one child with disabilities

Leeds City Council has said that its spending on educating pupils with special education needs and disability can vary depending on the child’s needs and fees in the sector are ‘spiralling’, according to the The Local Government Association (LGA).

It is believed the money will be paid to the school over the time the pupil attends, BBC West Yorkshire reported.

Group Young Foundations run Stafford Hall School, which was this year rated ‘good’ by Ofsted after a previous report in 2021 said it ‘requires improvement’.

According to BBC West Yorkshire, the £2.5million fee is much higher than what is usually spent on pupils with special needs.

They reported that, by way of comparison, Leeds City Council paid £1million in total for placements for four children in total in the same week that the contract with Stafford Hall was agreed.

Leeds City Council said that the spending covers the contract’s lifetime. 

They added: ‘The costs outlined on the decision notices represent the lifetime of the contracts – the full length of time that the young people will attend the respective schools, which in these cases represent several years.

‘The costs also represent the specific specialist education, health, and care needs for these young people which vary on a case by case basis.

Leeds City Council always ensures that decisions around independent school placement for pupils with EHC Plans are made in line with the relevant legislative requirements’

Leeds City Council (civic hall pictured) needs to find £65million worth of savings ahead of next financial year’s budget

LGA Children and Young People Board chair, Cllr Louise Gittins, told the BBC: ‘Councils continue to face significant challenges managing the ever-increasing rise in demand for support from children with SEND.

‘To help alleviate the huge strain they are under, we are calling on the government to use the upcoming local government financial settlement to eliminate councils’ high needs deficits, which have arisen as a result of the spiralling costs of providing support outstripping the SEND budgets available to councils.’ 

Stafford Hall School declined to comment when asked why it charged £2.5million for a single child and if this fee was typical.

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