CHILDREN with special educational needs in Cumbria are not likely to see any difference from a Government cash injection into schools.

Leading county councillors have said the money, equivalent to just under £2 million over the next two years, is not enough.

A £350 million national package was recently announced by Education Secretary Damian Hinds.

But a meeting of the county council’s Labour and Liberal Democrat-controlled cabinet was told that the sum had already been spent.

County council cabinet member for education, Cllr Sue Sanderson, gave a cautious welcome and council leader Stewart Young said the sum “won’t change anything”.

Cllr Sanderson (Lib Dem, Cartmel) said: “I do feel really pleased but without being churlish, it is still not enough. We will get some of the money in 2019-20 and some in 2020-21. It includes being able to put specialist places into mainstream schools, training for teachers which is a big area, and other initiatives to support special education needs.

“On a personal note, we have worked very hard at lobbying government for this. I have personally been on a demonstration about it.

She added: “What I learned was that it included governors, parents, pupils, schools, councils, professional associations, MPs and the lords. They were all saying the same thing – that this side of education, special education needs, is crippling local authorities.”

Cllr Sanderson said more children are being diagnosed with special education needs from autism to social and mental health issues. She also said that children who would not have survived a few decades ago are now surviving, so special schools are taking in more children with significant needs.

Council leader Stewart Young (Lab, Upperby) said: “This should go some way to offset the overspends in the high needs block but I think we need to make it clear if people think this is going to change anything – because it isn’t.  We have already spent this money, this is just reimbursing us.”

Cabinet member Keith Little said mental health was never a factor when he was at school.

Cllr Little (Lab, Maryport) said: “It seems to be more and more prevalent now – almost as many as 25 per cent. Young people, as young as six or seven are under so much pressure from the Government to perform.

“You have to wonder is this starting to have an effect on young people? It’s something I find really worrying. It just seems there is so much pressure on young people it is having a detrimental effect on their health and wellbeing.”

Making the announcement, Mr Hinds said councils would receive an additional £250 million over the next two years on top of the £6 billion already provided for the high needs budget this year.

“We recognise that the high needs budget faces significant pressures and this additional investment will help local councils to manage those pressures, whilst being able to invest to provide more support.

Every school or college should be one for a young person with special educational needs; every teacher should be equipped to teach them, and families need to feel supported.”