Sheffield City Council is changing the way it allocates funding for pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) to mainstream schools.
The aim is to distribute SEND funding to schools more quickly and more consistently, and to improve accountability. There is more funding for high-level SEND available this year, so this is not about making cutbacks.
However, as with all changes, there is a potential for misunderstandings, so here is a short summary of the changes:
- The changes only relate to funding for pupils with “high needs”. These are children whose special educational provision costs more than £6,000 per year. (Schools are expected to fund provision below this level from the notional SEN funding they receive directly from the government.)
- For the past few years, high-needs funding has been allocated to schools by localities. Localities are groups of schools that are close to each other and work together. Each locality used slightly different mechanisms for distributing high-needs funding to schools.
- From September 2022 onwards, all localities will use the same arrangements. High-needs funding will now be allocated in two parts:
1) an initial block funding allocation that all schools will get without having to ask for it
2) additional targeted funding that schools have to request from their locality
- Some schools in some localities will receive less funding up-front than they did in previous years. This does not mean that their SEND funding has been cut. It just means that they will have to actively request more targeted funding and explain how they will use it. This could be funding for individual children or for groups of pupils.
- As in previous years, the council will retain a small amount of funding for emergencies and exceptional cases. Schools can request this funding from the council.
Further funding changes are planned for the next few years. These include a proposal to calculate the cost of special educational provision set out in Education Health and Care (EHC) plans, using agreed funding bands. Funding for EHC plans would go directly to schools. Whether and how this proposal will be implemented depends on the outcome of a local consultation as well as national policy changes that are due to be announced later this year.
For more information about school SEN funding, go to the Learn Sheffield website, click on the button “SEND Support” and scroll down.