High-needs funding formula will be phased in over 5 years

Proposals have gone out for consultation on high-needs funding for pupils with special educational needs, which will continue to be allocated to local authorities. The proposals are separate to the consultation on national fair funding.

The consultation document states that councils will continue to decide the pattern of provision for their area, consistent with their statutory responsibilities.

The Department for Education has built on recent research from the Isos Partnership to produce a set of factors that it thinks should be included in any new formula, including health, disability, low attainment and deprivation.

The document also states that “elements of the funding” will take into account councils having to provide the core funding for special schools. It says there is an “overwhelming case for reform” as the data used to decide funding is more than a decade out of date.

The government is proposing to phase in changes over five years to protect provision for youngsters and to give authorities time to adjust.

It says the breathing space will allow the department to carry out more research and evaluation.

Local authorities will be able to draw on capital funding to make necessary changes to “reshape their provision” and will be encouraged to share best practice and work together in regional hubs.

Claire Dorer, chief executive of the National Association of Independent Schools and Non-Maintained Special Schools (NASS), said the organisations could “see the sense” in local authorities retaining high-needs funding as they were responsible for individual pupils’ combined education, health, and care plans.

“However, we know some authorities will see a big funding reduction. We have to ensure this does not translate into a reduced ability to meet needs.”

Jarlath O’Brien (pictured), headteacher at Carwarden House Community School, said some special educational needs services, such as learning and language support are made up of local authority staff. “If this money was distributed to schools these services would cease to exist.”


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