There doesn’t seem to be a day that goes by that there isn’t another shake up, or funding crisis in education. Underneath all of this lays the needs of children, and crucially, those children with additional needs. How will the latest investment support them, particularly in the run up to exams, will it provide the support, including in relation to Maths past papers that they need?

In March 2017, the Government announced that there would be a £215 million funding boost for children with SEND (special educational needs and disabilities). Whether you prefer the term special needs or additional needs, the funding is always welcome. The question however, is how far will it go and what difference will it really make to the educational and exam outcomes, including in relation to GCSE Maths exam papers, of these children?

Firstly, let’s look at the figures. Every local council is allocated a minimum of £500,000 with the express purpose of expanding and improving their special educational needs and disabilities provision. Over half of local councils will actually receive at least £1 million, enough for a fair few Maths past papers. It needs to be noted that the public briefing document does not explain on what basis the funding is to be allocated. However, it does state that councils are free to invest the funding as they see fit, if the money is used to support children with SEND with education, health and care plans to receive a high-quality education. The investment can be used across all mainstream schools from academies and free schools to special units, early years’ settings and further education colleges. It is intended to improve educational outcomes for all children with SEND up until the age of 25, so it is not beyond the realms of reality to believe that some will be spend on exam support, including KS2 past papers.

The question, the one on the lips of most parents, and education professionals, is how will this money help, and how will councils decide on its allocation? What will be spent on structures, play equipment, past Maths GCSE papers, and crucially more support staff? With exam session upon us, many schools, parents and children will be dealing with the heightened stress, anxiety and workloads that come with SEND and exams, including KS2 maths papers. From GCSE pupils concerned about whether they can even access the exam rooms, to those children unsure whether they have their extra time, access to technology or their scribe in place. If the money does not translate into real and tangible support for children with SEND at all levels, then parents will ask, what is its point? Parents are already turning to alternatives, such as maths past GCSE papers, to provide exam support for their children with SEND to try and reduce the levels of stress and anxiety that both the children and they are feeling. While exam papers at every level from KS2 SATS to GCSE are a valuable tool, they should not at any point be replacements for proper in school SEND support.

Parents looking for additional support should always discuss their child’s specific needs with school SEND coordinators and classroom teachers. This ensures that any external help they source, including maths past papers is the right help for their child. This help should then always come from a reputable source. However, it is also important that parents, teachers and others involved in the care and education of SEND children keep a watchful eye on this additional funding, and how and where it is being spent.