Review of top-up funding for pupils with special needs

PUBLISHED: 08:00 30 December 2018

A consultation is being carried out to ensure top-up funding is supporting pupils with special educational needs and disabilities. Picture: SimmiSimons

A consultation is being carried out to ensure top-up funding is supporting pupils with special educational needs and disabilities. Picture: SimmiSimons

SIMONE BECCHETTI

A consultation is being carried out to improve the way funding is allocated to help pupils with special educational needs and disabilities.

Mainstream schools manage significantly more children with complex needs since the top-up funding (TUF) arrangements were set up in 2013.

North Somerset Council is conducting a review to ensure TUF supports children and young people with high-level needs and is used in addition to delegated schools funding.

There are 3,783 pupils with special educational needs in North Somerset, with 493 of them receiving top-up funding in mainstream schools.

Sheila Smith, director of people and communities at the council, said: “Like every other council in the country our spending on children with SEND is increasing and the available funding does not match the demand.

“While the LGA is lobbying government for funding increases, in the absence of additional funding we are subject to severe financial constraints on the level of spending and difficult decisions will need to be taken.

“At the same time, we want to make sure that needs are assessed in a robust and fair way, and that funding is used efficiently and effectively; and we also want to ensure that support to children and young people with the greatest needs is protected.”

The TUF arrangements are based on calculating a universal value for pupils with types of need whether they attend mainstream or specialist schools – it takes into account expected staffing costs required to meet different types of need.

The contribution from the delegated budget is subtracted from it – £6,000 for mainstream schools and £10,000 for special ones.

The Strategic Schools’ Forum (SSF) commissioned an independent review of the TUF by RBMM Education.

Recommendations include making the criteria needs-related with no requirement for a diagnosis, arrangements to monitor the use and impact of the funding and a more fair and transparent system.

Schools are being asked to comment on the recommendations which officers say could have a significant impact on the distribution of resources.

The consultation can be found at www.n-somerset.gov.uk/sendtopupfunding and is open until January 10.

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