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Special Needs Funding For Children ? Perhaps A Whip-Round Would Raise More Than SEND ??? - Carers UK Forum

Special Needs Funding For Children ? Perhaps A Whip-Round Would Raise More Than SEND ???

For issues related to specific conditions and disabilities.
Today's latter edtion of the Guardian online :


Special educational needs and disability ( SEND ) ... the Governments own site : https://www.gov.uk/topic/schools-colleg ... sabilities

https://www.theguardian.com/education/2 ... -get-worse
Special needs : " It's soul-destroying to have to watch your daughter get worse. "

More and more parents of children with SEND are having to battle for services councils are failing to deliver. Here are two of them

Mary Riddell’s daughter Dakota, now nine, was born at 24 weeks and has been diagnosed with a number of conditions including cerebral palsy, epilepsy and learning delay.

“She’s a warrior,” says Riddell. “She’s fantastic. She just gets on with everything and takes it all on the chin.” But just as Dakota has had to battle for life, so her mother has battled to get the right educational support for her.

Dakota initially went to a mainstream primary school and had full-time one-to-one support. “That lady left,” says her mother, “ and she got part-time one-to-one. As she progressed through the school that one-to-one support disappeared, but her needs remained the same.”

Riddell found an alternative place at a specialist academy where Dakota is now thriving, but says she has had to fight every step of the way. “It took an awful lot of work and an awful lot of chasing to get her into the SEND [special educational needs and disabilities] school.”

Now she is having to chase her local authority in Birmingham to update Dakota’s education, health and care plan (EHCP) which guarantees the provision she needs, otherwise she may lose it.

Riddell is also facing delays of up to two years for an autism assessment and occupational therapy for Dakota. “There’s not enough bodies to keep up with demand,” she says. And in another setback, at the start of term Dakota lost her chaperone on the journey to school – the chaperone has since been reinstated, but not without strenuous lobbying from Riddell.

She has had to give up her job in hotel management and says looking after Dakota and her interests is a full-time role. “It’s very, very stressful. I feel like a personal assistant – you are chasing up that many professionals all the time.”

Over the past couple of years, Riddell has become so concerned about the crisis in SEND provision she has put her name to a legal action against the education secretary, Damian Hinds, and the chancellor of the exchequer, Philip Hammond, accusing them of failing to discharge their legal duties relating to the amount of funding allocated to SEND provision in England.

“There’s not enough funding coming down from the top,” she said. “I’m not very politically minded, but it’s soul-destroying to have to watch your daughter get worse, when there are people who can help but you can’t get appointments with them because they are so busy and they are stretched so thin. "

" They failed him consistently for three years. "

Cinzia Proctor’s son Leo is 11 and has autism, among other diagnoses. He began his education in mainstream school with additional support, but it soon became clear he needed a specialist school place.

Like most parents of children with SEND, his mother feels she has had to fight every inch of the way to secure the support her child is entitled to. She has appealed to the special needs tribunal on two occasions, costing her £20,000, and has had to complain to the local government and social care ombudsman three times about Leo’s support.

In her first complaint in 2016, the ombudsman found that delays in finalising Leo’s statement of special educational needs meant he had to be home educated for seven months and did not receive the support he needed for social development for two terms.

The following year the ombudsman upheld a complaint that Kirklees council in West Yorkshire failed to provide the occupational and speech and language therapy to which Leo was entitled. The family contacted the ombudsman for a third time this year to complain that some of Leo’s additional support was still not in place.

The ombudsman Michael King said of Leo’s case: “This continual and repeated failure by Kirklees council to provide this boy with support has had a significant, cumulative effect on his education.

“At no time since 2015 has the boy had all the support he needs, and this has led to the mother losing faith in the council and the support it will offer her son both now and in the future.”

“They failed him consistently for three years,” said Proctor. “It’s left me feeling scared that the people who are supposed to be looking out for children are not. It’s a national problem. It’s honestly getting to crisis levels. The funding is being cut constantly.

“It’s shameful that there are laws in place that are supposed to be protecting families, yet we have to legally challenge what’s essentially your legal right,” said Proctor. “It’s entirely finance based. It’s not taking into account the needs of any child.”

The ombudsman said the council had since agreed to review its procedures used to monitor and ensure the delivery of special educational provision.

No doubt , the tip of a very large iceberg ... again.

Public services ... any sector NOT short of monies and resources ?

Only one villain ... the Government ... Austerity.

What do public services matter when the preservation of power and wealth is at stake ?
More from the Guardian :

https://www.theguardian.com/education/2 ... rge-crisis

Special needs pupils being failed by system " On verge of crisis. "

Rising demand puts councils in England at risk of bankruptcy, Guardian investigation reveals.

Children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) are being failed by a system “on the verge of crisis” as demand for specialist support soars and threatens to bankrupt local authorities, a Guardian investigation has revealed.

Parents of children with SEND are increasingly locked in prolonged and costly disputes with councils across England who are too often failing to deliver on their legal obligations.

As a result, many of the most vulnerable children in society end up without the support to which they are entitled, and are out of school for months – even years – as parents battle to secure the right provision to meet their child’s needs.

Appeals heard by the special educational needs and disability tribunal have nearly doubled in the past two years. According to the most recent figures, parents are successful in 89% of tribunal hearings, prompting concerns that some local authorities are making poor decisions, delaying vulnerable children’s access to education.

Between 2011-12 and 2015-16, the tribunal heard about 800 cases a year; in 2016-17 the number rose to 1,600 in the fallout after sweeping government changes for children with SEN and disabilities that came into force in 2014.

Ali Fiddy, the chief executive of Independent Parental Special Education Advice (IPSEA), which offers advice and support for parents, said there had been a 56% increase in demand for IPSEA’s services since the Children and Families Act 2014 which they were struggling to meet.

“The system for supporting children and young people with SEND is verging on crisis. Against a backdrop of increasing cuts to local authority budgets, parents are having to deal with poor decision making on the part of local authorities which frequently stems from a lack of understanding of the legal framework.”

Findings by the local government and social care ombudsman, who investigates complaints about local public services, confirm worrying levels of council failure within the SEND system. Out of 200 investigations into parents’ complaints, the ombudsman, Michael King, found in favour of parents in eight out of 10 cases.

One family had to go to tribunal twice and the ombudsman on three separate occasions to fight for the right provision for their 11-year-old son. “As a family it has a huge cost, both emotionally and financially. They failed him consistently for three years,” the mother said. “It’s left me feeling quite bruised and scared that the people who are supposed to be looking out for children are not.”

King said: “While our investigations can only provide part of the picture of how the SEN system is functioning – that picture is causing concern. The reality is that some families are suffering a disproportionate burden in having to battle for the support their children are entitled to.”

More than 1.2 million school pupils – about 15% of all those in England – have some kind of SEND, according to the Department for Education. Approximately 253,000 (3% of all pupils) have SEND statements or education and health care plans (EHCP), a legally binding document detailing the additional support that child needs.

Councils, suffering from years of budget cuts, warn the current system is “unsustainable”. The Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) said 68 out of 85 local authorities who responded to a survey reported an overspend on their high needs budget in 2016-17 totalling £139.5m.

The SEND crisis is also being felt in schools that are already grappling with an 8% real-terms reduction in funding since 2010, resulting in cuts to teaching assistants, specialist support and pastoral staff who play a vital role in supporting SEN pupils in mainstream settings.

In Kent, which is one of the biggest local authorities in England, high-needs spending rose from £119m five years ago to £167m this year. In the last 18 months there has been an 81% increase in requests for EHCP assessments. Part of the national increase in demand is due to the fact that the government’s SEND changes extended council liability to the age of 25.

Matt Dunkley, the director of children’s services in Kent, said: “I understand parents’ frustration on this – the 2014 legislation set out an expectation of what they are entitled to, but we have a system that is not currently funded sufficiently to meet their demands.
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“It’s a crisis that threatens to undermine the general funding of schools, but also potentially to bankrupt local authorities who might have to bail out overspend from their own resources. We’ve got a perfect storm which is contriving to threaten the viability of the system.”

As mainstream schools struggle to support SEND pupils, a drift towards specialist schools – in particularly independent specialist schools – is an additional financial burden for councils. Official statistics show the number of children in private schools has risen from 3.7% of all SEND children in England to 6.9% in the last 10 years. Costs can be upwards of £50,000 a year per child; in a few extreme and complex cases it can cost £500,000 a year.

The House of Commons education select committee will meet this week to hear evidence as part of an inquiry into SEND. Robert Halfon, the Conservative MP who chairs the committee, said: “There are rising concerns about the quality and access to SEN provision, including the impact of funding issues and the very real difficulties parents face in securing help for their children.”

Councils around the country are consulting on proposals to cut SEND spending, while parents are crowdfunding to fight cuts in the courts. In August, families in Bristol forced the city council to reverse £5m of SEND cuts, parents in Surrey are awaiting judgment in a similar legal action to stop £22m of cuts, and parents in the London borough of Hackney are in the high court next week.

On the ground, parents say their children are losing home-to-school transport, speech therapy and one-to-one support as budget cuts bite. A petition signed by tens of thousands of parents calling for increased SEND funding is due to be handed to the education secretary, Damian Hinds, on Tuesday.

Families have also crowdfunded more than £10,000 to bring legal action against Hinds, as well as the chancellor, Philip Hammond. A “letter before claim” has been delivered accusing them of “failing to discharge their legal duties relating to the amount of funding allocated to SEND provision in England”.

Jo-Anne Sanders, the director of learning and early support at Kirklees, apologised for the council’s failings and said an additional £500,000 was being allocated to the SEND budget because of the pressure on resources.

“The council has acknowledged the findings of the ombudsman and we also accept that we failed to make sure the child in question received the support they were entitled to for a significant period of time,” she said.

“The council has been working closely with parents, listening to their concerns and developing ways in which we can improve our services for children and families. We remain committed to making sure that all children are able to achieve the best possible start in life.”

The shadow education secretary, Angela Rayner, said: “The situation facing the UK’s most vulnerable children is so serious that the United Nations has warned that Britain is violating the international rights of disabled people, and thousands of disabled young people have been left without a school place at all.”

The minister for children and families, Nadhim Zahawi, said: “Core schools funding is increasing to £43.5bn by 2020 – this includes £6bn of funding specifically for children with special educational needs and disabilities, up from £5bn in 2013.

“But we recognise there are pressures on high-needs budgets due to increasing costs, which is why we have taken a number of steps to help schools and local authorities get the best value for every pound.”

.... and meltdown in public services continue ... at any ever increasing rate.

At the same time , the income gap between those at the top , and those at the bottom , continues to widen.
Another article from the Guardian ... the problem , nationwide :

https://www.theguardian.com/education/2 ... in-england

Young people with special needs " Being failed in 44% of areas in England. "

Guardian investigation reveals inspectors had " Serious concerns " in 30 of the 68 local areas inspected.
Children and young people with special needs are being failed in almost half of areas in England inspected under new rules, research by the Guardian has found.

Under a system of inspections introduced in 2016, the education watchdog Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission have so far visited 68 local areas to assess whether they meet the needs of those aged 0 to 25 with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND).

Inspectors said they had “serious concerns” in 30 cases (44% of those examined), requiring those areas to produce a written statement of action to detail how they would address “significant areas of weakness in the local area’s practice”.

A spokesperson for Ofsted said children and young people who have special educational needs and/or disabilities deserved a better deal.

“Since Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) began SEND inspections more than two years ago, we have shone a spotlight on strong and weak SEND practice across education, health and social care,” the spokesperson said.

“The fact that we have identified significant concerns in so many areas shows there is still some way to go until children and young people’s special educational needs are being met.”

More than 1.2 million school pupils (about 15% of all those in England) have SEND, according to Department for Education figures. Earlier this week, a Guardian investigation found that demand for specialist support was soaring and threatening to bankrupt cash-strapped local authorities.

The Children and Families Act 2014 placed new duties on the local health, social and education services to identify and meet the needs of those with SEND who were under 26. In response, a programme of 152 inspections of services in local areas was established to assess how well they were preparing children to live as independently as possible and secure meaningful employment when they left education.

The first inspections took place in May 2016 and will conclude in 2021. Ofsted said they tried to ensure a spread across the country when choosing which areas should be inspected in a given year.

Birmingham, the biggest local authority area in the country, was one of the 30 areas to be highlighted so far as failing to meet the needs of young people with SEND. In the inspection report, published in September, the area was criticised for “a lack of strategic and coordinated leadership”.

“Pupils who have SEN and/or disabilities make weak academic progress, attend less often and are excluded more frequently than other pupils in Birmingham and all pupils nationally,” the report said.

“Not enough young people who have SEN and/or disabilities are entering employment or supported employment. The proportion of adults with learning disabilities in paid employment is below the national average.”

A joint statement from the council and the Birmingham and Solihull Clinical Commissioning Group said they were disappointed by the findings, but fully accepted them.

“We are absolutely clear that services need to improve significantly, and rapidly, so that children and young people in Birmingham have their needs met and are properly supported; this is to ensure that they can achieve their full academic potential and can lead fulfilling lives.”

Angela Rayner, the shadow education secretary, said years of “brutal Tory cuts to services” were taking their toll on those who most needed support. “When the government’s own inspectors say that the most vulnerable children are being let down and deserve a better deal it is clear that there is a serious problem,” she said.

Dame Christine Lenehan, director of the Council for Disabled Children, said that while the inspections had uncovered a high rate of failure, they were also pushing local areas to improve provision.

“Forty-four percent failure is not a good thing and I would far rather families were getting decent services, but I absolutely believe that the inspections are a force for good” she said. “They shine a spotlight on provision for children who have always been marginalised and they provoke areas in to action.”

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “We want to make sure that the quality of SEND services are high, to ensure young people with SEND go as far in life as possible. That is why we introduced a new inspection framework in 2016 to assist local areas in improving their services.”

The Children and Families Act 2014 ... same year as The Care Act.

Similarity ?

Neither work in practice !!!

Without the resources , how can either be workable ???????
My battle with Hampshire Education Department lasted for many years. They tried to force me to sign a statement agreeing for a school that was utterly unsuitable. I told them "I wouldn't sign until hell froze over". They tried brinkmanship, but with the help of IPSEA HCC were forced to allow him an extra year at the Infant School special needs class, with his own TA. Then they suggested further unsuitable schools. Ultimately, I ended up appealing to the Secretary of State for Education who told them they had to fund a really suitable school. I cannot overestimate how stressful it was, but I wanted him to go to a school which would help him be the best person he could be, not teach him bad habits!
After it was all over, the Family Fund gave us some holiday money, and we went on our one and only trip to France, I felt I just needed to get out of the country for a while!!
Missing special needs support " A national scandal. "

The thousands of children missing out on key support for diagnosed special educational needs in England is a " National scandal ", Ofsted has said.

Chief inspector of England's schools, Amanda Spielman, reveals 4,000 children with official education, health and care plans (EHCs) setting out their needs receive no support at all.

She also raises the issue of children disappearing from education.

Some parents said a child is only assessed when they are excluded.

Ms Spielman says: "Too often, children who have been assessed still do not receive the services they need."

She uses her annual report to expose what she describes as a "bleak picture" of too many children "failed by the education system".


"In 2017, more than 4,000 children with an approved EHC plan received no provision, five times more than in 2010.

"One child with Send ( Special educational needs and disability ) not receiving the help they need is disturbing enough, 4,000 is a national scandal."

Special needs pupils " Spend years out of school. "

Parents head to High Court over special needs cuts.

Special needs cash shortfall " Leaves thousands of pupils unplaced. "

The report also says: "Most disconcerting is that the whereabouts of some of our most vulnerable children is unknown."

It revisits serious concerns that some pupils are being moved off the school roll illegally, because they may be seen as difficult to teach.

The report suggests 10,000 pupils cannot be accounted for and may have been "off-rolled" by schools in Years 10 and 11, because they did not appear on the pupil list of another state school.

It acknowledges many of these may have switched to independent schools, moved elsewhere or have been taken out for home schooling.

But, it says, it is unlikely that all of this number would fit into these categories.

The report says that compounding the difficulties faced by children with Send and their parents is that demand for EHC needs assessments from local authorities has risen by a half since 2015.

In 2017, 45,200 children and young people were assessed, while 14,600 were refused an assessment.

EHC assessments and plans were introduced in 2014 amid a shake-up designed to streamline and reduce the burden on the special needs education system.

They replaced statements of special educational needs which were carried out by local authorities.

Many parents complained of the long and difficult battles they had to get their child's needs "statemented".

But campaigners say the same issues are being faced with EHCs.

At the same time, the costs of supporting more children with lower levels of special needs were handed back to schools, which have been facing budget pressures of their own.

There was also a stated intention to reduce the number of children diagnosed with lower levels of special needs.

Some believe these are part of the reasons the EHC assessment and plan system has come under pressure.

Both local councils and head teachers have been grappling with huge rises in demand for high needs support - those children with the highest level of need.

The report says: "Too often, the identification of Send is inaccurate or comes too late. This only exacerbates children's needs and puts even greater strain on the need for services.

"Often the worst hand is dealt to those who do not quite meet the threshold for an EHC plan.

"Understandably, parents feel that to do the best for their children they must go to extreme lengths to secure an EHC plan, which not every child will need.

"Something is truly wrong when parents repeatedly tell inspectors that they have to fight to get the help and support that their child needs. That is completely contrary to the ethos of the Send reforms."

Last month, representatives of local authorities told MPs of the funding problems they face in their high needs budgets.

Surrey County Council revealed it faced £30m in pressures on its high needs budget for this year, adding this was enough to trigger formal restrictions on any further spending at the council.
Today's Yorkie post ... effects within just one area which mirror what's happening nationwide :

Warning over Yorkshire " Underfunding " for special needs children.

Vulnerable young people are facing the impact of “ Significant " underfunding in special needs support, executives warn, as families face lengthy delays for crucial care plans.

In some parts of the region, The Yorkshire Post reveals, nearly 80 per cent of education, health and care plans for special needs children have been delayed beyond deadline limits.

As families today share their personal stories of the impact on the most vulnerable, executives at some of the region’s biggest authorities acknowledge ongoing delays are “unacceptable”.

Urgent investment is needed in the upcoming spending review to meet rising demand, councils argue, to ensure they can meet their statutory obligations.

“Supporting children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities is one of the most important jobs that we do but the cost pressures are very grave,” warned County Coun Patrick Mulligan, North Yorkshire’s executive member for education. “For this reason we continue to call on the Government to fully fund the high needs budget and have written to our MPs asking for their support.”

Education, health and care (EHC) plans, which outline what support a child is legally entitled to, are a fundamental aspect of ensuring support in schools for young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). But across the region, analysis reveals, 40 per cent of families face delays, a figure doubled in some areas as councils struggle to meet rising demand.

Since changes to the law in 2014, increasing bodies’ responsibility to include young people up to the age of 25, there has been a huge rise in the number seeking support. But, say local councils, there has been no additional funding to meet this need.

A coalition of authorities in Yorkshire wrote to the Education Secretary in November, warning councils face a collective shortfall of £42.7m in this area year alone. The system “will buckle”, North Yorkshire leader Carl Les warned, while Leeds Council leader Judith Blake said some of the nation’s most vulnerable have been dealt a “poor hand”. Now, after £6.2m was this week set aside by the DfE for the region’s special needs budgets, authorities warn this investment will not be sufficient, nor are there any guarantees over future need.

“This continues to impact our most vulnerable children as we work hard to provide the best possible SEND provision we can under the funding pressures we are facing,” said Sheffield’s education executive Coun Jayne Dunn.

The ambition for SEND children is exactly the same as for any other child – to “achieve well in education, and go on to live happy and fulfilled lives”, Minister for Children and Families Nadhim Zahawi said.

It was for this reason that EHC plans were introduced to provide individual support he said, before acknowledging council budget pressures.

He said: “That is why we have provided an extra £250m in high needs funding across this year and the next, on top of the increases we had already promised.”

The funds – £24.3m for Yorkshire and the Humber – will go “some way” to helping councils manage, he said.

“We are pleased to see that local authorities are improving the speed at which they are assessing SEND children, but where a local authority is performing significantly below the national average we have been working with them through our specialist team of SEND advisers to improve performance,” he added.

National data shows 64.9 per cent of EHC plans were issued within 20 weeks in 2017, up from 58.6 per cent in 2016.

The figures for 2018 are not due to be published until May this year.
I had to appeal all the way to the Secretary of State for Education to get the funding for a non state school M needed. It is false economy to cut SEN funding. The more help these children get when they are little the less they will need when they are adults.

In the "good old days" these children all went to residential hospitals, not a good solution, but at least the parents were not worn into the ground and the other children had a normal life. The divorce rate of parents with an SEN child is horrendous.

Now families are expected to care for profoundly handicapped children, at home, with very little support. The pendulum has swung too far the other way. Nothing can repair the brain or body of a severely handicapped child.
bowlingbun wrote:
Sat Feb 02, 2019 12:58 pm
I had to appeal all the way to the Secretary of State for Education to get the funding for a non state school M needed. It is false economy to cut SEN funding. The more help these children get when they are little the less they will need when they are adults.

In the "good old days" these children all went to residential hospitals, not a good solution, but at least the parents were not worn into the ground and the other children had a normal life. The divorce rate of parents with an SEN child is horrendous.

Now families are expected to care for profoundly handicapped children, at home, with very little support. The pendulum has swung too far the other way. Nothing can repair the brain or body of a severely handicapped child.
My family must be the exception to the rule then! Our son's issues have not stressed us out much. Even though I live far away from my family, my partner's mum and sister live in Guildford so can come over when we need a break. That is not appropriate for all families but my son does not have many care needs. I agree. Little man is only 2 years old now but we are already thinking about his future.
Support for children with special educational needs " In crisis. "

Ombudsman finds families face delays of up to 90 weeks and complaints are at record levels.

Services for children with special educational needs and disabilities (Send) are in crisis, with families experiencing delays of up to 90 weeks and complaints at record levels, according to the local government and social care ombudsman.

Ombudsman Michael King said the number of complaints from frustrated parents had gone up by 45% over a two-year period to 2019. Most concerning, he said, was that nine out of 10 complaints (87%) were upheld in the families’ favour, with councils criticised for failing to meet their statutory duties to support children with Send.

King’s report focuses on the experiences of families who have made complaints to the ombudsman about securing an education, health, and care plan (EHCP) for their child and the delivery of services promised in it. An EHCP is a legal document which outlines a child’s special needs and provision required.

He warns that councils – struggling after years of austerity cuts – are putting up barriers to services in an effort to ration resources. As a result, children with special needs are missing out on their education and parents are left to pick up the pieces.

“We are now upholding almost nine in 10 investigations we carry out about EHCPs. This is exceptional and unprecedented in our work,” said King. “Two years ago when the new system of support for children and young people with Send was still bedding in after sweeping changes under the Children and Families Act 2014, the ombudsman upheld around 80% of investigations.

“That we are investigating and upholding significantly more complaints two years later suggests a system in crisis.”

He continued: “I am now particularly concerned some authorities may be putting in place extra barriers to ration scarce resources, rather than basing support on children’s needs.

“While I can empathise with the difficulties authorities face, there can never be an excuse for failing to meet the statutory rights of children.”

Though the number of complaints investigated by the ombudsman is still relatively small, up from 217 two years ago to 315, he said the stories were a barometer of how the system is working. In other areas of the ombudsman’s work, like adult social care for example, fewer than six out of 10 complaints are upheld.

The Local Government Association (LGA) acknowledged that the councils it represents are in danger of being unable to meet their statutory duties for children with Send. In recent months the government agreed an additional £700m in funding for Send services and announced a review of the system.

Judith Blake, the chair of the LGA’s children and young people board, said: “While we are pleased the government has announced an additional £700m for children with special educational needs, without certainty over funding for the future the situation will get worse as the number of children who need support continues to increase.”

Blake said there were currently 354,000 pupils with EHCPs – an 11% increase since last year. “This is why we are also pleased the government plans to review the system, and will work with them to get a clear picture of what more can be done to make sure vulnerable children can get the best support possible.”

A Department for Education spokesperson said the ombudsman’s report was based on a small sample size covering less than 0.3% of all cases in 2018.

“However, we know the system is not working well enough for every family, and have launched a review to introduce further improvements.”
Families - including North Yorkshire family - lose challenge over special-needs funding.

Three families have lost a High Court challenge against the Government over special educational needs funding.

The families, including the family of Benedict McFinnigan, 14, from Scarborough, brought the legal action over the Government's approach to providing special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) funding, on behalf of all young people who rely on it.

Their lawyers previously told the court there was a "genuine crisis" in Send funding for children and young people which could "blight their lives forever".

But, in a ruling on Monday, Mr Justice Lewis said there was "no unlawful discrimination" in the way the Government made provision for SEND funding.

The legal action was brought by three children, who acted through their mothers - 14-year-old Benedict McFinnigan, from Scarborough, 15-year-old Nico Heugh Simone, from Robertsbridge, East Sussex, and nine-year-old Dakota Riddell, of Birmingham.

Jenni Richards QC, for the families, told the court at a hearing in June that there was "clear and incontrovertible evidence" of a "substantial national shortfall" in funding.

Ms Richards argued that former chancellor Philip Hammond acted unlawfully in setting the national budget in October 2018, and former education secretary Damian Hinds did so when making available additional, but "manifestly insufficient", SEND funding in December.

She told Mr Justice Lewis they did not take enough account of the "nature and extent of the crisis" in SEND funding when making those decisions.

Ms Richards said Department for Education statistics showed "rising demand" for SEND funding, which had "not been matched by anything like a commensurate increase in funding".

She said the figures showed there were 25,540 young people aged 16-25 in January 2015 with a statement or education, health and care (EHC) plan, which had increased to 84,260 by January last year.

The families sought a declaration that the Government's approach to SEND funding is unlawful, which they said would force ministers to consider increasing the amount available.

Government lawyers, opposing the legal action, argued that the increase in demand was recognised by the ministers and Mr Hinds had "made it clear" that high needs would be one of his priorities ahead of the 2019 Spending Review.

Mr Justice Lewis said there was "no reasonable basis" for concluding that the defendants were treating children and young people with special educational needs in a similar way to other children without such needs.

He said: "Children and young persons with special educational needs are not treated in the same way or a similar way to others who do not have such needs.

"They are treated in a fundamentally different way, both legally and factually."

The judge said there is a legal regime aimed at identifying those with special needs, under which councils have to prepare assessments of the provision each child needs.

He said there is a right of appeal if a parent disagrees with a decision and a local authority cannot refuse to provide the necessary funding because of a lack of resources.

He added: "Factually, the funding system provides for additional funding through the high needs funding block. That is currently over £6bn a year.

"In addition, if local authorities need more money to ensure that special educational provision is made, they will need to transfer money from other parts of their budget or from reserves.

"Recognising the financial pressures on local authorities to meet their legal obligation to provide the specified special educational provision, the (Education Secretary) has, from time to time, made additional funds available specifically for special education needs - as he did with the allocation of an additional £350 million in December 2018."

The judge said the Government's 2019 Spending Review will address the budget for SEND funding for future years.

In the September spending round, the Government said it would provide an additional £700 million over the next year for pupils "with the most complex needs" and also announced a review into special educational needs and disability and how the law is working in practice.

The National Audit Office published a report last month which recommends the Government should prepare for next full Spending Review by reviewing the actual cost of providing Send services.

Anne-Marie Irwin, specialist lawyer at Irwin Mitchell law firm which represented the families, said: "We feel we put forward very strong legal arguments on behalf of the families that the decisions taken about SEND funding were so inadequate as to make them unlawful.

"We and the families are disappointed by today's decision but thank the court for hearing the case.

"How Send services are funded is still an incredibly important issue, affecting tens of thousands of families, and one that needs addressing.

"We welcome the announcements that were made after June's hearing pledging additional government money for SEND and for a review of the SEND system. However, our clients believe that there is still a long way to go.

"It is vital that action is now taken to ensure children benefit from these pledges so young people with SEND can access the education they are entitled to."

The case was supported by campaign network SEND Action, which held a demonstration outside the Royal Courts of Justice ahead of the June hearing, as well as charities Mencap and the National Deaf Childrens' Society (NDCS).

The High Court previously rejected cases brought by families of children with special educational needs against Hackney and Surrey councils.