Sheffield pupils with high levels of additional needs have been allocated to funding bands. This is part of national changes to the school funding system, which will be implemented from April this year.
Under the new system, mainstream schools will have to fund special educational provision (e.g. teaching assistant support, resources) up to a threshold of £6,000 per year per pupil, from their delegated school budgets. Above this level, local authorities will be expected to provide top-up funding for individual pupils, via locally determined funding bands. (£6,000 per year equates to around 10 hours of Teaching Assistant support per week.)
Last autumn, mainstream schools in Sheffield were asked to identify pupils for whom they were providing support costing more than £6,000 per year, and match them to funding bands using descriptors of need. Returns were moderated by a panel to ensure consistency across the city.
This audit of mainstream pupils has now been completed, and a total of 539 pupils – approximately half of all pupils with statements in mainstream – have been allocated top-up funding (see table). Parents of these pupils will only be notified if their child’s provision changes as a result of funding decisions. To find out if your child has been allocated top-up funding, please contact their school. Banding decisions can be appealed by submitting new or revised information to the SEN panel after April. If your child has a statement of SEN which specifies the amount and type of support they should get, then this can only be changed through an annual review, NOT as a result of a funding decision.
Children about to enter the special school system and those whose needs have changed can be put forward for top-up funding to the SEN panel from April onwards.
The funding reforms will also affect special schools and Integrated Resources (IRs), who will receive £10,000 per planned place, plus any additional top-up funding allocated to their pupils via the banded funding approach. In the first instance, special and IR school pupils in Sheffield have only been banded nominally, in order to minimise school budget fluctuations. Over time, these pupils will also be banded individually at transition points (starting with pupils currently in Year 6).
The post-16 and Early Years sectors will also be moving towards a banded funding system. No decision has yet been taken regarding pupils currently attending independent specialist provision.
Breakdown of top-up funding allocated to mainstream pupils for 2013/14: