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Projects worth over £42 million to help raise educational standards, improve services and provide practical support to disadvantaged families and children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) have had their funding extended, the Department for Education (DfE) has unveiled.

The UK Government has announced it will re-award current contracts and grants which enable schools, colleges, families and local authorities, to support thousands of children with SEND.

This includes extending an advice helpline and increased funding for local parent carer forums, support to improve how councils provide local services, and improved training for education staff in working with children and young people with specific needs such as autism.

The multi-million-pound package of support includes more than £27 million for the Family Fund, which supports low-income parents raising children with serious illnesses or disabilities with the cost of equipment, goods or services, such as sensory and educational equipment that they might not otherwise be able to afford.

DfE has also launched a consultation with proposed changes to the funding formula that will calculate allocations of high needs funding in 2022-23, to ensure funding is directed where it is needed most.

Children’s Minister Vicky Ford said: “We know that the impact of being out of education can be greatest on those children and young people with special education needs and disabilities. which That is why, during the current lockdown, we have made sure that schools and colleges should continue to welcome those with Education Health and Care plans to attend where possible.

“Attendance among these pupils is higher this lockdown than the last, and I deeply appreciate how schools and colleges are caring for pupils and their families. This investment of over £42 million will provide practical support, advice or useful equipment – especially when it is needed now more than ever.

“It adds to the huge increase in high needs funding we are providing and the catch-up funding we’re making available to help tackle the impact of the pandemic. This, plus our ongoing SEND review, will help make sure children and young people with additional needs are supported not just today but throughout their education.”

This investment will ensure that specialist organisations around the country can continue their work to help strengthen local area performance, support families and provide practical support to schools and colleges.

It will strengthen participation of parents and young people in the SEND system – ensuring they have a voice in designing policies and services and have access to high-quality information, advice and support. This includes providing up to £17,500 for each Parent Carer Forum – an increase of £2,500 compared to 2020-21 – and the continued provision of a national helpline to provide advice for families.

Funding has been extended for organisations including the Council for Disabled Children, Contact, Kids, the National Network of Parent Carer Forums, Whole School SEND, the Autism Education Trust, the Education Training Foundation and Family Fund putting children and families at the heart of decisions.

Dame Christine Lenehan, Director of the Council for Disabled Children, commented: “This funding announcement underlines the government’s continuing commitment to children with SEND after a difficult year for these children, their families and the services which support them . We look forward to the next year, as we work towards improvements in services and the publication of the SEND review.”

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