Figures published today by the Welsh Government show that 30% of its £357million annual budget for special educational needs (SEN) never reaches the classroom.
Nearly £120million this financial year is being retained by local authorities, but there is considerable variation in the amount delegated to schools.
In Denbighshire 89% of the funding is passed on to dedicated special schools or notionally given to mainstream schools and nurseries.
In Caerphilly, just 51% is passed on to schools, with the remainder kept by the local authority.
Welsh Conservatives have previously called for direct funding of schools to deliver more money to the classroom and cut out waste.
Angela Burns AM, Shadow Minister for Education, said, “In a challenging financial climate, it is vital that every pound spent on special educational needs delivers the greatest benefit for pupils.
“It is concerning that in some Labour-led councils, half the special educational needs budget never reaches the classroom.
“We understand local authorities face costs in administering funding and providing support to Special Educational Needs providers. However, there is no excuse for spending half the entire SEN budget when other councils can deliver services so much more cheaply.
“Some of the most vulnerable children in our schools need support that only investment in staffing, equipment and learning resources can deliver.
“Welsh Conservatives have consistently called for direct funding of schools to end the annual waste of vital school funding in order to improve facilities in the classroom.
“For too long SEN has been the forgotten part of the education system and we welcome the Welsh Government’s recent conversion to dedicated legislation for SEN provision.
“During this public debate on the future of local authorities, we urge consideration of how we can ensure value for money for taxpayers and deliver improvements in education for all.”