Thousands of children with special needs are paying the price of a 'crisis' in education funding, a union has claimed.
Official figures show the number of youngsters with special educational needs plans or statements that are awaiting school places has more than doubled in a year.
The National Education Union (NEU) claimed that local councils are being 'starved' of the money they need for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), with youngsters forced to stay at home because authorities do not have the cash to provide a suitable education.
Official figures show the number of youngsters with special educational needs plans or statements that are awaiting school places has more than doubled in a year
Overall, as of January last year, there were 287,290 children and young people, up to the age of 25 in England, that had an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP), or a statement of special educational needs.
Of these, the vast majority (279,582) were aged 19 or under.
The year before, there were 256,315 children and young people with an EHCP or statement, and again the vast majority were 19 and under.
The government data also shows that as of last January, 4,050 youngsters with an EHCP or statement were 'awaiting provision' - effectively waiting for a place in education.
This is up 137% compared with January 2016, when the number stood at 1,710, and up 372% compared with 2013 (858 children).
The NEU argued: 'Children facing some of the greatest challenges are paying the price for the crisis in education funding.'
NEU joint general secretary, Kevin Courtney, said: 'It is an absolute disgrace that the Government is starving local authorities of the resources needed for children with SEND.
'Children are at home because local authorities don't have enough money to provide suitable education.
The National Education Union (NEU) claimed that local councils are being 'starved' of the money they need for children with special educational