The Local Authority (LA) is consulting on a proposal relating to the High Needs Block (HNB) funding for April 2020 onwards. The HNB is the funding provided by the government for the LA to support pupils with SEND, Alternative Provision and a range of SEND services.
The consultation contains a range of proposals relating to SEND provision, largely concerning:
· Funding for special schools
· The level of support allocated to SEND advisory services
· A new model for supporting Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs)
· Plans to support pupils who are in need of Alternative Provision (AP)
· Plans to support pupils who are in need of Schools Resourced Provision (SRP)
Reason for the proposed changes
The Local Authority is required to consult annually with the Schools Forum (made up of heads, school representatives and governors from across the Borough) on financial issues relating to arrangements for pupils with SEND, in particular the places to be commissioned by the LA and the arrangements for top-up funding.
For the year 2020/21 the high needs budget given by the government to Waltham Forest will be approx. £29.5M. From this budget all special schools receive their total funding. The additional funding for EHCPs is also allocated from it, as is the funding for SEND support services, etc.
The current funding levels are based on historical decisions, and have not been reviewed for over 8 years. Given that the number of pupils requiring support has risen significantly in Waltham Forest, the system is now unsustainable based on the current levels.
Over the last few weeks, an ‘Inclusion group’, established by the Schools Forum, has been meeting to discuss and propose a way forward. The group has agreed the proposal as detailed in the Schools Forum report.
The proposal is that there will be 4 new funding levels - Level 1, 2, 3, and 4, (instead of the current ‘letters’ banding system):
Level 1 would be £5,000
Level 2 would be £15,000
Level 3 would be £21,000
Level 4 would be £43,000
These figures are on top of the funding schools already receive per child with SEND.
In consultation with their schools forum, local authorities make decisions about the delegation of funds to schools, which for primary and secondary schools is on the basis of a local formula, and on the spending of funds held centrally, most of which is used for making high needs provision. These spending decisions are most effective when there is a strong partnership between the local authority and the institutions providing education.
The schools forum is one way in which partnership working can be strengthened, particularly with schools. However, local authorities should engage with all of those providing education in their area, including early years settings and post-16 institutions, as well as parents and young people, in fulfilling their statutory duties to keep the services and provision for children and young people with SEND under review, as required by the Children and Families Act 2014.
The Local Authority would like to hear your feedback on the proposed changes.