Funding for Special Educational Needs (SEN) in Darlington is set to receive a major boost after the Government pledged to invest more than £6m in the service. 

The Department for Education has agreed to pay Darlington an additional £6.19m over five years to address the historic deficit in funding and will pave the way for a series of improvement reforms.

Darlington has seen a rise in the number of requests for SEN support in recent years and the government has acknowledged there are significant pressures on high-needs budgets across the country.

The council reached the agreement as part of the government’s ‘safety valve’ programme for authorities that have deficits in their high-needs budgets – money set aside to support pupils with SEN.

New measures that will be introduced include reviewing current provision to ensure it meets needs, improving early intervention and promoting an inclusive culture in schools.

It comes after it was recently announced a new free school for children with SEN will be built in Darlington. Up to 48 full-time places will be provided for pupils aged 11-19 with autism and will see them benefit from a specific environment tailored to their needs with dedicated staff.

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Councillor Jon Clarke, the council’s cabinet member for children and young people, said: “I am delighted for all our children, young people, and families, as well as everyone we work closely with to deliver these services, that this funding has been announced.

"Like so many other councils, Darlington accrued a significant deficit in the high needs block over many years. This additional funding will support us to improve the delivery of SEN services for children and young people and ensure services are sustainable.”

“This fantastic news follows on from the recent announcement of a new purpose-built Special Free School for our residents and this additional support will help us to deliver sufficient sustainable provision in Darlington for children and young people with SEN and their families.”