Improvements to special educational needs funding approved

It is hoped the new arrangements will be more transparent.

It is hoped the new arrangements will be more transparent. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Funding arrangements to support children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) are to improve.

The amount spent on children with SEND is increasing and the funds available do not match demand.

The current top-up funding (TUF) arrangements, which determine how much extra support pupils need in schools – have been in place for six years.

However, an increasing number of pupils with complex needs are managed in mainstream schools.

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

More: Review of top-up funding for children with special educational needs.

A North Somerset Council spokesman said: “To respond to these changes we reviewed our arrangements to look at how to make the best possible use of the limited resources we have available.

“Recommendations – including changing the process and criteria for determining need as well as changes to the amount of funding that schools receive – were taken to the January meeting of North Somerset Strategic Schools Forum where they were agreed.”

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

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.

Changes to the arrangements mean TUF criteria will be needs-related with no requirement for a diagnosis.

The use and impact of allocated top-up funding will be monitored to ensure it supports the needs of children and young people and is used alongside schools funding.

It is also hoped the new arrangements will reduce pressure on the TUF budget to avoid the historic pattern of overspending.

The new proposals should also improve the consistency of decision-making for TUF applications and ensure the system is fair and transparent.

North Somerset Council’s TUF budget in 2018/19 was set at £11,171 but it is forecast to overspend by £683. The draft TUF budget for 2019/20 is set at £11,415.