AS THE budget for Island schools is set for the next year, worries about funding needs for special education pupils continues.

Despite the government giving the Isle of Wight Council more than £3.6 million additional funding for schools, for the year beginning this April, there could still be a gap of £1.33 million funding gap for special education needs or disabilities (SEND) pupils.

Through the schools' funding formula, the Isle of Wight Council has been able to identify just how much will be spent on education, given to schools or early years providers.

In 2021/22, the council received £104,198,000 from the Department for Education, which has now increased to £107,855,000 for 2022/23.

Once divided into the specific funding allocations, however, a 'significant gap' in SEND funding has been identified.

A reason for the shortfall, the council says, is that the funding formula does not fully account for the Island's higher SEND demand.

To meet the funding shortfall, it has been agreed through the local schools' forum, for 0.5 per cent of the main schools fund — approximately £210,555 — to be transferred to help the SEND funding difficulties.

The remaining £1.12 million gap will have to be found through savings.

The council says it will continually review the provision throughout the year, taking account of recent or upcoming changes.

Some of those changes include additional special school places and new resources within mainstream schools to avoid the use of specialist on-Island and mainland provision placements, where appropriate.

One crucial hope the council is relying on is a government SEND review, set to be published later this year, and expected to have an impact on funding methods.

Cllr Debbie Andre, cabinet member for children's education, said at Thursday's cabinet meeting the authority would be looking closely at the review's outcome to see how it may help.

Cllr Andre said, however, the Island was not alone in having the funding shortfall.

Cabinet papers say the Department for Education is undertaking conversations with local authorities about their deficits but the Isle of Wight has not yet met that threshold.