BRADFORD school bosses have written to the government to express their “extreme disappointment” with the amount of funding for special needs places in Bradford.

The Bradford School Forum, made up of heads of schools and academies in the district, claims the government is failing to provide Bradford with the money it needs to provide much needed special educational needs places.

With Bradford facing a large shortfall in SEND places, the forum hoped that increased government funding would help create new places.

But the funding that has been announced for Bradford amounts to only 0.3 per cent of the national “special provision fund pot of £365 million - despite the high number of children in the district who require SEND places.

The Forum has now send a strongly worded letter to Lord Agnew, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the School System, asking him to explain why Bradford was getting such a low amount.

Bradford Council is currently working towards creating 354 extra SEND places across the district, many of which will be in existing schools or children’s centres. A number of these places will be approved by Bradford Council’s Executive at a meeting this morning.

Details of where new special educational needs places will be created in Bradford this September

But the Forum says money to create these places is having to be diverted from general education budgets, and many more new places will be required in the coming years.

Written by Dianne Richardson, chair of the forum and head of Swain House Primary School, the letter says: “The insufficiency of capital funds allocated from government to support the development of increased capacity is a matter of significant concern to Bradford Schools Forum. We are informed that Bradford Council has already needed to divert basic need capital to support the development of SEND capacity.

“Bradford Schools Forum is extremely disappointed with the allocation of £0.3m that Bradford has received from the additional £100m of capital announced by the Secretary of State in his December letter. This brings Bradford’s total allocation from the ‘special provision fund’ to £1.117m across 2018-2021. This is only 0.3 per cent of the national pot of £365m.

“I am writing to ask you to explain how Bradford has only been allocated £1.117m or 0.3% of a national pot. The guidance published alongside the allocations does not provide sufficient information to enable us to identify how Bradford could be so poorly funded in comparison with other local authorities.”

She has also asked how the government will assure there is enough funding to provide the required SEND places in Bradford in the future.

At the last meeting of the Forum Marium Haque, Deputy Director for Education and Learning at the Council, said: “354 places is not the endgame - there is an increasing need in the district. These extra places basically bring us to the place we needed to be at last year. There is a lot of work to do.”

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “The government is committed to investing in school places for children with special educational needs and disabilities.

“Yorkshire and the Humber has been allocated £22 million of funding between 2018 and 2021, which includes the extra £9 million announced in 2018. These calculations were made using the most up to date information available at the time and took into account projected population growth, as well as local factors such as building costs.

“We will be looking carefully at capital funding in preparation for the next Spending Review, including funding for pupils with special educational needs.”

The Forum meets at 8am on Wednesday in City Hall.