FUNDING for special needs pupils will not be slashed on Saturday – as Dorset County Council performs a U-turn on unpopular plans.

Proposals to cut mainstream top-up rates and tipping point payments met with outspoken opposition from headteachers, governors and parents – but the Dorset Schools Forum said the cuts were necessary to plug a £5.2m hole in the Higher Needs Funding block (HNB).

Councillors also blasted the proposals, due to be implemented on April 1, which they said were made without any scrutiny by elected members or committees. The proposals were due to be implemented on April 1.

But schools were told on Monday that the plans had been ‘revised’ and that a sum of £1.6m which has been carried forward from the Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) will now be put towards ‘making an easier transition’ instead of being used to offset the deficit in the DSG.

Changes to the budget will still have to be implemented. A spokesman for Dorset County Council said that in the past, the HNB has been able to fund pupils above the national average, but the increase of pupils in Dorset on EHCPs (education, health and care plans) means this is no longer possible.

The county council has pledged to work with schools to develop medium and long-term strategies for managing the budget, which is set by the government.

A spokesman said: “These new proposals have been funded by the £1.6m carry forward that was going to reduce the deficit. Instead it has been used to make an easier transition and allow more time for consultation and engagement with schools.”