£300,000 special needs cuts proposed by Hackney Council will leave vulnerable children without support, warn teachers

The inclusion team demonstrating outside the Hackney Learning Trust HQ

The inclusion team demonstrating outside the Hackney Learning Trust HQ - Credit: Archant

Hackney Council’s plan to slash the schools’ special needs budget by £300,000 has been criticised as short sighted, and will leave vulnerable children with less support in school, teachers have warned.

Specialist teachers and early-support officers are staging demonstrations against the proposals outside the Hackney Learning Trust (HLT) offices in Mare Street this week.

Members of the Inclusion Team – which provides expert special educational needs (SEN) support to pupils and advises schools - are concerned about HLT’s proposed restructure of the department.

They say the move will leave specialist teachers over-stretched and less able to work with families and schools with SEN children who are in desperate need of support.

The inclusion team stands to lose six highly experienced members of staff next year, who will not be replaced.

Remaining staff will have their terms and conditions of work cut.

At a time when more schools than ever have signed up for support from the inclusion team, the National Union of Teachers (NUT) maintains the cuts are not necessary.

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Dave Davies, Hackney NUT spokesman blasted the proposals as shortsighted.

“With the changes in SEN provision with the Families Bill that’s going through, schools will be desperate for this kind of expertise,” he said.

“Surrounding boroughs have already got rid of their central inclusion team, our team were providing training in Brent last week, it would become a “traded services” model but could be a valuable asset.

“Teachers have already taken what’s effectively a 16 per cent pay cut over the past few years, if they start to devalue the team people will very well end up leaving, and they (the HLT) are really in danger of destroying what is an exceptionally skilled and experienced team,” he warned.

The inclusion team works with over 200 of children with special needs in Hackney, and also provides training to teachers, care staff and parents and flag up resources and ways of working to schools.

A HLT spokesman said: “We will continue to consult with unions and hope to resolve this matter.”