Teachers across Warwickshire in danger of being physically harmed, councillor says

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Teachers are in danger of being physically harmed in some of Warwickshire’s schools according to a county councillor worried about the pressure on funding in education.

Cllr Sarah Boad (Lib Dem Leamington North) said there was a need to appraise pupils quicker otherwise there was little alternative but to exclude children - some as young as four years old.

Cllr Boad was speaking at the March 7 cabinet meeting of Warwickshire County Council which was debating the allocation of the Dedicated School Grant - the ring-fenced amount of money from central government that funds maintained schools and services for pupils.

A total of £426.3m has been allocated to Warwickshire for 2019/20 which will be split between four areas.

In presenting the report, portfolio holder for finance and property Cllr Peter Butlin (Con Admirals & Cawston) explained: “The report recognises financial pressures in two areas - the early needs sector and high needs block.

“In terms of high needs this is a national problem facing most schools and representations have been made to central government. We recently allocated £3.3m in the short term to provide time for measures to bring the budget back to a balanced position in the near future.”

And Cllr Boad outlined some of the issues she was aware of in the classroom.

She said: “Many of our schools are under enormous pressure in this area. At the school where I am a governor we have children who have not yet been assessed so we are not getting any funding for them. They are very little and yet they are causing enormous problems.

“Children are being excluded and they then get to the next schools where there is huge pressure to exclude again. These children are physically challenging - I think that’s the best way of putting it - and when there is no funding and school budgets are very tight then you end up with two or three teachers including the head being called in to physically sort the situation out.

“Teachers don’t want to exclude and yet I think some staff are under serious risk of physical harm. I appreciate that the assessments take time but my fear is that schools will be forced to exclude very small, very young children.

“When you have four and five-year-olds who are almost unmanageable in a mainstream setting then something has to give.”

The high needs block of funding provides for children and young people with special education need and disabilities (SEND) and it has been set at £62.3m for the coming year.