Top-Up Funding High Needs Block
To receive the above report.
Alison Crossick (AfC), introduced the report and explained the purpose of the report was to provide the Schools Forum with the current national and local picture for Education, Health & Care (EHC) Plans, with associated needs and costs. She added the report looked at the likely impact if no changes were made and provided information for consultation relating to Top-up funding for schools in RBWM and also information for consultation around the current matrix and banding for EHC Plans.
Alison Crossick said the Borough would be keeping the matrix the same as Slough and Bracknell councils so that it could work across borders. She had looked at the matrix used by Sussex to see if it would work with Top-up funding for the Borough. Post 16 education was not included in the current proposal, unless the pupil remained on roll at their current school into the sixth form.
The number of EHC Plan’s in place had been rising while the number of people designated for support had remained stable. In Windsor and Maidenhead, 16.17% of students required support which was higher than the national average. Alison Crossick was in agreement to look and clarify if other local authorities with grammar schools had a similar percentage of SEND support. She added she wouldhave expected inner city schools with low literacy to have a much higher SEND support rate.
Alison Crossick stated she had been working to a written statement of action. One area she had looked at was work that could be done in local schools to keep children locally. The ratio in and out of the Borough was reasonable but a lot of that was for independent paid for provision.
EHC Plan numbers had been rising nationally and the Borough was in line with the national average. As expected post 18 EHC Plan levels were rising the quickest due to EHC Plans now lasting till the pupil reached 25 years of age, whereas Statements of Education Need only went up to the age of 18 years, so the Borough would start to see lower rates of EHC Plans as the older pupils reached 25.
Table two showed some of the maintained schools special reduced as post 16 went on to special colleges; the Royal Borough EHC Plan population had less than one third in maintained schools with elected home education numbers quite high, so the Borough had assigned an officer to check the primary need of those pupils, and if they could still learn but had left school, they would try and find a suitable placement for them.
Kevin McDaniel, Director of Children’s Services stated off-rolling was not a significant issue in the Royal Borough and it was all about finding the right placement for those young people. Chris Tomes stated that at his school, there were some parents that tended to off-roll at the end of year eight or nine and that the numbers were higher than at other local schools. Alison Crossick confirmed that was being looked into.
Alison Crossick said when the Top-up funding changed to the new banding, people were concerned as there were more children to share the money around. A piece of work was done to compare banding regionally and with London local authorities. The piece of work done showed that regional LA’s Mainstream Median had annual Top-up values of £4,044; while London LA’s Mainstream Median had annual Top-up values of £8,320. Alison Crossick added that table four showed the Borough’s median was higher than the national average and was similar to the regional medians but a little higher than London’s.
The speech and language contract was going out to tender and that would include all statutory requirements to meet the needs of children and young people with an EHC Plan. Alison Crossick added there would still be a mixed economy with some still on the old banding; but she was getting rid of the band which said no funding provided as it made no sense to state that. The Borough had 299 children with EHC Plans and the funding sitting with that was just under £1.4m and the Borough could give schools more funding to reduce out of Borough placements. Schools would be remunerated appropriately.
The matrix was biased towards behaviour and mental health but there were concerns that the right amounts were not getting to the right pupils; so now with the new matrix, that would be addressed and all new requests were be agreed from September 2019 and would follow the new banding and very old banding would change in a phased timing so funding would not go up or down unexpectedly.
Alison Crossick stated the 81 pupils currently on Band B with £1,479 funding will automatically increase to £2,000 per annum, in September 2019, at an estimated additional cost of £42,201. All other pupils would be reassessed for band level at phase transfer 2010 onwards, unless there was a significant change of need. Pupils still receiving funding at the old banding pre 2017 would be rebranded at the next Annual review or earlier if requested. Alison Crossick added that schools were very good at not applying for EHC Plans for children if they were not needed.
Ian Peters stated the old band seven used to be for those pupils that required one to one support. Alison Crossick responded the Borough was trying to get away from one to one if it was a medical or safety need. If a pupil was in need of one to one for those reasons, they should be classed as exceptional cases and should be banded at band 12. Band eight onwards would be for those children needing a TA or LSA support.
The Director of Children’s Services confirmed the Borough should be applying the new banding for the summer term and not waiting for September 2019 but, budgets were overspent so the Borough should only apply it now if it could afford to.
The Chairman commented that schools knew which children were coming through from nursery and which ones may need more support. Alison Crossick responded some parents were not ready for those conversations around special needs and sending their children to special needs schools. Manor Green had agreed to hold three places open for some children in that situation. The Director of Children’s Services said legal advice received was that when that situation arose, the Panel agreed that parents could take longer than 15 days to accept an offer of a place at a special school. Conversations were ongoing to support those parents making that decision. Ian Peters said doing that should make for a smoother transition.
RESOLVED UNANIMOUSLY: That the Forum
· Noted and commented on the contents, share and disseminate across all RBWM schools and discussed the preferred options.
· Agreed for change of process to be trialled from September 2019 for new EHC assessments and phased transfers for 2020 to be reviewed in April 2020.
· Post 16 funding was not in the scope of the current proposal, unless the pupil remains on roll at their current school into the sixth form.