Surrey County Council is altering one aspect of Special Educational Needs (SEN) funding in order to better target available money across schools most in need and improve outcomes for children with SEN.
This follows a consultation process undertaken in late 2020, looking at whether discretionary payments to schools based on numbers of children with Education Health Care Plans (EHCP) relative to school population should stop.
Instead, the Council will now work with the Schools Forum on distributing a transitional fund fairly across schools in most need.
The Council is investing in Special Educational Needs & Disabilities (SEND) provision across the county, as well as working with national government, in order to make SEND a more sustainably funded service that delivers improved outcomes for young people.
The change in discretional funding announced on Monday 1 February will enable the council to better target available SEND funding at children who need it most, improving outcomes and put it on a sustainable footing.
For several years the Surrey County Council has provided additional SEN funding, over and above the individual support funding provided for a pupil with an Education Health Care Plan (EHCP). The additional SEN funding has been paid to mainstream schools where the number of EHCPs was high relative to the general characteristics of the school. Latterly this has been paid where the cost of meeting the first £6,000 per EHCP exceeded the school’s notional SEN funding within their funding allocation. The government expects a mainstream school to fund from its core budget the first £6,000 of support required to meet a child’s additional educational needs whether the child has an education health and care plan (EHCP) or is at ‘SEN support.’ In 2020/21 67 primary schools and two secondary schools received this additional funding.
Surrey County Council is now advising schools that this additional discretionary funding will no longer be distributed from April 2021 through this formula. All mainstream schools will need to continue to meet the cost of the first £6,000 of additional support for all EHCPs (other than children in SEN centres) from their core budgets. This has no impact on individual pupil funding for EHCP costs, which will continue on the same basis from April 2021.
The Director for Education, Lifelong Learning and Culture considered arrangements to give schools time to prepare for the re-design of the funding mechanism and agreed that a full term of (pro-rata) discretionary funding in the Summer term 2021, would give schools sufficient time to prepare. There would be no additional administrative burdens placed on schools to implement these arrangements recognising the additional pressures schools face throughout the pandemic.
The Director is satisfied that removal of the discretionary funding will not make it too onerous for the majority of schools to fund the first £6,000 of a pupil’s EHCP. However, in the interests of supporting any schools currently who will receive transitional funding and for whom the withdrawal of funding in September 2021 would be too onerous, it was agreed to convene a small advisory group of school leader representatives from Schools Forum to make recommendations to the Director for Education, Lifelong Learning and Culture on a mechanism for identifying such schools and to recommend a mechanism for supporting these schools from September 2021.
Schools will be informed of the transitional arrangements once they are agreed.
The Schools Finance and Monitoring team will contact the schools affected by this decision to discuss transition arrangements.