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Planning to make changes to SEND funding

The funding provision for children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) is under pressure and faces increasing demand and limited funding. There is currently an overspend in this area and the council will have to make difficult choices to address this. 

We have started a process of listening to families and others directly affected by this funding situation. At these meetings we have listened to parents and students and considered suggestions for how we manage SEND services better whilst having to work with less funding. 

This survey asks for the views of residents, parents of children with SEND and practitioners about proposed ways to reduce how much we spend, so we can balance the books, as well as update the support from key Council services. It lays out some options for how the council can make changes for our provision so that we can provide support to SEND children and young people. The options we are laying out will help us decide on the measures we must take.

We are asking for your views in relation to three areas, funding to our schools, changes to the Support for Learning Service (SLS) and changes to the Behaviour and Attendance support service (BASS). 

 

Summary

Government funding and SEND

How the funding is being used and why this needs to change

How we have developed the proposals

The proposals and what impact these could have

Have your say

Timetable for the consultation, decision making and implementation process

Frequently asked questions

Summary

There are around 8000 children and young people in Tower Hamlets, between the ages of 2 and 25, who have Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) or attending Alternative Education provision (AP). 3000 children and young people have an Education, Health and Care plan (EHCP). The Local Authority (LA), working with partners, is committed to doing all we can to ensure these children and young people have every chance to fulfil their ambitions and to thrive.

The government provides funding through the High Needs Funding Block (HNFB), to the LA to support the education of children and young people with SEND and those attending AP. Most of this money is paid to schools and a small proportion, about 5%, is kept by the LA to pay for services. The demand on this budget is such that the LA is now consulting on ways to make changes to school funding and service provision. 

In 2018-19, Tower Hamlets received £49.7 million for SEND funding, but spent more than £56million. If we do not make changes we estimate by 2022 the overspend will reach circa £12 million. This overspend needs to be off set through other school budgets, reducing spending elsewhere in the education system. This is a national problem and the government is asking for evidence and views about problems with the amount of SEND funding: 

Proposed changes to top-up payments for children with an EHCP

As the bulk of the HNFB goes to schools and other providers, the LA is considering a reduction in top-up amounts to move Tower Hamlets top ups to be closer to other similar London boroughs. Within a context of all funding to schools reducing, this particular reduction may have an impact on the educational offer in schools and other provision.

Proposed changes to the Support for Learning Service and the Behaviour aspect of the Behaviour and Attendance Support Service

The proposal is that the LA maintains a core service so that statutory duties are fully met, as well as retaining capacity to respond to emerging concerns for example in meeting the needs of children with SEMH and work on reducing exclusions. The consultation asks questions ask about different ways of making changes which are likely to result in a change or reduction in the current staffing in SLS and BASS.

During May and early June, the LA ran 15 facilitated events for parents, carers and other stakeholders to discuss and give their views on how the HNFB is currently used and to make suggestions about what changes could be made. Feedback from these sessions has informed the questions in this consultation. 

Government funding and SEND

All schools receive an amount of money for each pupil. In Tower Hamlets the per/pupil amount (calculated using the LA School Block allocation divided by the total number of pupils in primary and secondary schools) is currently £6912 per annum. For pupils that have additional needs but do not meet the threshold for an EHCP, the school receives an additional £6000. This money is included in the basic school funding.  This is known as ‘notional funding’.

The government gives every LA an annual grant for SEND and to fund alternative education provision (AP), from the High Needs Funding Block (HNFB). The amount paid to the LA is based on a formula, but this does not take account of recent pupil numbers and many LAs nationally are experiencing difficulties in meeting their commitments within this budget.  

The funding provided by the Government has failed to increase in a way which meets the increase in needs.  Since 2016/17 there has been a 43% increase in the number of children with an EHCP.  However the amount of money the LA receives from the government has only increased by 5.2%.

How the funding is being used and why this needs to change

For pupils with an EHCP attending mainstream schools, their level of need identifies which ‘Band’ of SEND funding they will receive. In Tower Hamlets there are five bands- Band A which equates to a top up of £7,085 to Band E which equates to a top up of £16,296. For pupils attending a special school, a specialist resource base in a mainstream school or AP, the amount of top up is based on the school they attend. 

The amount of these top ups varies between different boroughs, with Tower Hamlets schools receiving more than similar schools in other comparable boroughs.

The LA is currently working on updating the descriptors for the banding system to clarify what level of need falls within each band and which children are eligible for an EHCP. This work will be rolled out in the next financial year. 

Top-up amounts Tower Hamlets mainstream schools by SEND band

 Bands

 Top-up 2018-2919 (per pupil, per year)

 A

 £7,085

 B

 £8,502

 C

 £11,053

 D

 £12,753

 E

£16,296

 

Top-up payments at Tower Hamlets special schools and alternative provision

 School Top-up 2018-2019 (per pupil per year)

Severe learning difficulties/profound and multiple learning difficulties schools (SLD/PMLD)

Stephen Hawking [ages 3 – 11]

 

Beatrice Tate [ages 11 – 18]

 

 

£18,568

 

20,232

Social emotional and mental health difficulties schools (SEMH)

Cherry Trees [ages 5 – 11]

 

Ian Mikardo  [ages 11 – 18]

 

 

£18,076

 

£25,763

Residential school 

Social emotional and mental health difficulties schools (SEMH)

Bowden House  [ages 10 – 18]

 

 

 

£52,902

 Autistic Spectrum Disorder 

Phoenix  [ages 3 – 18]

 

£20,232

 

 

 Alternative Education Provision (AP)

 

London East Alternative Provision (LEAP)

Group teaching

Individual teaching

 

£11,173

£27,764

 South Quay College

Group teaching

Individual teaching

 

£11,500

£28,000

 Mainstream School (with special resource unit)

 Top-up 2018-2019 (per pupil per year)

 Bangabandhu Primary School (PD)

 £7,025

 Culloden Primary Academy (HI)

 £9,662

 Cyril Jackson Primary School (SLCN)

 £3,732

 Globe Primary School (SLCN)

 £3,732

 Hague Primary School (HI)

 £5,392

 George Green’s School (PD)

 £8,270

St Paul’s Way Trust School (HI)

£5,885

 

Hackney

Top ups for mainstream schools in Hackney
 Bands  Top-up rate 2018-2019
 A  £4,736
 B  £6,077
 C  £6,500
 D  £11,432
 E  £15,818

 

Top-ups for special schools in Hackney
 School Top-up 2018-2019
 1  £15,000
 2  £20,000
 3  £25,000

 

Southwark

Top-ups for mainstream schools in Southwark
 Bands Top-up rate 2018-2019
 A  £4,000
 B  £8,000
 C  £12,000
 D  £16,000

 

Top-ups for special schools in Southwark
 School Top-up 2018-2019
 1 (SLD - sec)  £13,212
 2 (SEMH - primary)  £17,568
 3 (ASD - primary)  £18,906
 4 (ASD - sec)  £19,030
 5 (PMLD/SLD - sec)  £19,629
 6 (PMLD/SLD - primary)  £20,247

 

Lewisham

Top-ups for mainstream schools in Lewisham
 Bands Top-up rate 2018-2019
 A  £5,620
 B  £8,640
 C  £12,150

 

Top-ups for special schools in Lewisham
 School Top-up 2018-2019
 1  £6,200
 2  £15,200
 3  £27,900

 

The SLS comprises of teams of specialist staff who provide services for children with SEND. A contribution is also made to the Behaviour aspect of the Behaviour and Attendance Support Services (BASS).  The SLS and BASS have worked in the same way over a number of years and we need to make changes to ensure the LA meets all its statutory responsibilities through the services provided. Even if there were no funding pressures, the SLS and BASS would have to change in response to: 

  • Changes in the LA’s statutory duties ( for example those introduced through the Children and Families Act 2014)

  • Emerging government policy in relation to social, emotional and mental health and school exclusions

  • Changes in the SEND needs of pupils over time

  • Feedback from school leaders

  • Feedback from parents. 

How we have developed the proposals 

The proposals for change have been informed by considering:

  • how well the LA meets its statutory duties – currently the LA services are focused on school aged pupils but there are gaps in the age 16-25 provision and during the school holidays

  • whether or not all schools have equal access to services funded by retained funding – we are concerned that this is not happening at present

  • whether the LA provides a fair level of support to meet the different types of SEND – we want to meet the needs of children with all different needs

  • what happens in other LAs which are similar to Tower Hamlets

  • a review of how the HNFB is spent in collaboration with headteachers

  • how we encourage all schools to take their fair share pupils with EHCPs

  • a review of the SLS and BASS

  • changes in responsibilities for the LA, for example the Timpson review which will require the LA to support schools to reduce exclusions 

  • whether or not LA services provide value for money

  • if can we invest more money in early intervention as a way of getting better outcomes for pupils. 

Tower Hamlets is committed to inclusion across all educational establishments and the following set of principles are helping us to shape the changes that are made:

  • Choice a SEND system with a ‘mixed economy’ of provision.

  • Good quality: We want to offer choice for parents and carers and a range of good educational opportunities for children and young people.

  • Clarity: Make evidence-based decisions with transparency.

  • Fairness:

    • Financial fairness with regular reporting about SEND budgets.

    • Support offered equitably to all with an EHC plan up to age 25; according to need, in order to achieve improved outcomes.

    • Equity of access to funding, support and service for schools and colleges, in proportion to need (e.g. number and proportion with an EHC plan).

  • Effectiveness: services for children and young people with SEND should avoid duplication and place a strong emphasis on capacity building

 

The proposals and what impact these could have

Proposed changes to top-up payments for children with an EHCP

As the bulk of the HNFB goes to schools, the LA is considering a reduction in top-up amounts to move Tower Hamlets top ups to be closer to other similar London boroughs. Within a context of all funding to schools reducing, this particular reduction may have an impact on the educational offer in schools. 

Bringing top up funding in line with other boroughs could make some money available for early intervention which would help improve outcomes for pupils and reduce the need for an EHCP as the pupil gets older.

We would also like your views on making changes to reduce the differences in top up that currently exist between different kinds of special school- for example, for pupils attending PMLD schools primary and secondary pupils receive a different top up amount, whereas for pupils attending the ASD school, the top up is the same for primary and secondary pupils.

Proposed changes to the Support for Learning Service and the Behaviour aspect of the Behaviour and Attendance Support Service 

The SLS services would need to change even if there were no budget pressures. Following a review of services, we have identified need to make changes so that we fully meet statutory duties. At the moment:

  • Most support is for children and young people in a school setting, though the sensory impairment team (specialist teachers for visual and hearing impairment, part of the SLS) works with pre-school children.

  • As a consequence of the way the budget is currently allocated, there is little support is offered to pupils with SEND who are older than 16 but the LA has a duty to support young people with an EHCP up to the age of 25.

  • The SLS currently offers a term time only service

  • The LA is not providing an equitable level of advice and guidance on the full range of special needs in the pupil cohort, , with a particular gap in services for Autistic Spectrum Disorder

  • Whilst there may be a role for some services in early intervention work, little more than half of the pupils seen by SLS and BASS have an EHCP.

SLS and BASS deliver ‘core’ activity free of charge to schools.  The core activity total budget is £2,798,499. Currently it is unclear which aspects of the work delivered are statutory and those which are non-statutory. Individual teams work in different ways - some being more focused on individual case work and others on working with professionals.

The proposal is that the LA maintains a core service so that statutory duties are fully met, as well as retaining capacity to respond to emerging concerns for example in meeting the needs of children with SEMH and work on reducing exclusions.

To make best use of resources, the LA’s view is that these services should be working mainly with school staff to help all schools develop their inclusive practice and only working with individual children in agreed circumstances when it is clear there are benefits to this way of working. In some circumstances, it may be more effective and better value for money for a service to be provided by commissioning from a school rather than the LA providing a service.

Have your Say

The consultation period will run from 24 June to 23 August 2019

You are invited to respond to this consultation by completing the feedback form online.

Give your feedback

 

 

Alternatively, you can email your comments to Send.Strategy@towerhamlets.gov.uk by 23 August 2019

Timetable for the consultation, decision making and implementation process 

The consultation period will run from the 24 June to 23 August 2019

Below is the estimated timetable for the decision making process:

 Date Activity

 24 June

Consultation commences 

 2 July 2019 , 9.30am-11am

Consultation meeting – PDC, 229 Bethnal Green Rd, London E2 6AB

Focus groups with children and young people will be conducted throughout the consultation period

 16 July 2019, 5.30pm

Consultation meeting – PDC , 229 Bethnal Green Rd, London E2 6AB

 17 July 2019, 6.00pm

Consultation meeting – Parents Advice Centre, 30 Greatorex St. E1 5NP 

 23 July 2019, 2-5pm

Consultation meeting – PDC 229 Bethnal Green Rd, London E2 6AB

 23 August 2019

 End of consultation

 Late August 2019

 Collate report on the response of the consultation and initial findings

 September - November 2019

Report on the response of the consultation to the Mayor and consideration of proposals.

Report on the response of the consultation and consideration of proposals to be discussed at School Forum

December 2019

Consideration of detailed proposals

April 2020

Implementation

 

Frequently asked questions 

 

Frequently asked questions

Answer:

The Divisional Director for Education and Partnerships and Head of Special Education Needs and Disabilities (SEND) meet parents twice a year and hear from them about pressing issues.

Parents can make their views known, through the:

  1. Parent and Carer Council,
  2. various groups run by the Parent and Family Support Service
  3. SEND Information and Advice Service
  4. Parent and Carer Survey and Pupil Survey.

The council has trained local parents to become SEND Ambassadors. Their role is to provide outreach and attend events to promote Parent Participation. Their aim is to ensure a strong parental voice at a strategic level.

Tower Hamlets has supported the setting up of an independent SEND Forum and we have both a parent and student representative on the SEND Improvement Board. The student representative has recently presented a report with recommendations from the Our Time Forum, an all ability youth forum run for and by young people between the ages of 16-25 with SEND.

Before having a public consultation, we ran 15 pre-consultation engagement events to explain SEND funding. These were attended by 170 people, mainly parents.

Three examples of areas that parents and young people have influenced decision making include:

  1. our current increased focus on pathways into employment so that now TH has more than half of all the supported internships across the whole of London,
  2. our planning to invest more in intervention in the early years and
  3. planning to establish more support for pupils who have Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) but are academically able.
Answer:

No.

In addition to the funding schools already get for all pupils, there is an annual grant from the Government, called the High Needs Funding Block (HNFB). This is funding is for children and young people with Special needs and children and young people in alternative education provision.

 

Last year the council received about £49 million in the HNFB.

Children’s social care and health services also have funds for children with Special Education Needs and Disabilities (SEND).

All of these strands of funding will continue each year. However, School budgets as a whole are reducing annually as a consequence of overall fall in government funding.

Answer:

The High Needs Funding Block (HNFB) is increasing each year.

However, the number of children and young people with Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) is also increasing. The number of children with EHCPs is increasing much faster than the funding.

In addition to this, a change in the law in 2014 resulted in young people with SEND being eligible for support up to the age of 25. So this meant that councils had a new duty to provide support for up to an additional 6 years without additional funding.

We know the average amount spent on each child with an EHCP has remained steady over the last few years.

This means there is a growing funding gap and last year the budget was £7m overspent.

In previous years, there has been enough money in schools budgets to off-set any overspend, but this is no longer the case. This means we need to make changes to how we spend the budget going forward or the overspend will grow every year.

 

Answer:

The way the council spends the money is regulated by law.

The requirements that have to be met are described in the SEND Code of Practice, statutory guidance published in January 2015.

The majority of the funding goes directly to schools, which is about £45m of the total fund.

The rest is spent by the council on services which include the Support for Learning Service and a Speech and Language Therapy contract.

Head Teachers have asked the council to reduce the amount of money that is retained. To do this we need to change and reduce the services that this money pays for.

Answer:

Some children and young people with particularly complex needs have specific support from Children’s Social Care and or Health identified in their Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs). In the past all, or the majority of these costs have been paid through the High Needs Funding Block (HNFB).

Children’s Social Care and Health are also under funding pressure, but we have been working with them to identify what the right contributions from the right budgets should be.

Contributions to costs have been agreed in principle from Children’s Social Care and Health and we are working towards these being fully paid from the financial year 2020-21.

Answer:

The public consultation asks three sets of questions about:

  •  Reducing funding to schools
  • Reducing the difference in funding between different types of schools
  • Making changes to some council services.

 

The first set of questions is about the top-up funding to schools. This is because the majority of funding goes to schools, so making a change here would make the biggest difference. 

The questions ask for views about reducing the amount of funding. We have provided some information about the level of funding schools in other similar Local Authorities get.

The consultation asks about making a 2% cut, a 5% cut or a 7% cut.

A 2% cut means a reduction of £2 in every £100

A 5% cut means a reduction of £5 in every £100.

A 7% cut means a reduction of £7 in every £100.

 

If the council makes a 5% or 7% cut, then a part of that money can be used to spend more on intervention in early years. For example providing more children with Speech and Language Therapy before they start school. 

The second set of questions is about differences in funding to special schools and resource bases.

The third set of questions is about some of the services the council provides paid for by the High Needs Funding Block(HNFB). The council is seeking views on whether we should just provide a statutory service, more than a statutory service, or carry on spending at the current level and off-set some of the costs from other budgets.

Answer:

All the funding in the High Needs Funding Block (HNFB) will continue going to schools and into services.

Reductions to school SEND budgets, alongside the other cuts to schools, will have an impact on activities and may result in less staffing. However, children and young people with an Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) will still have the support outlined in their plan.

With regard to changes to services, the council will continue providing at the very least a statutory range of services. Services would become more focused and targeted on working with school staff to help mainstream schools become more inclusive.  For services that have funding that the council holds, we want to have a clear basis so schools know what they are entitled to access and there is greater equity in support across the range of SEND and age range than is at the moment.

Answer:

We have been talking with Head teachers about what work we can do to help all mainstream schools be equally inclusive, resulting in a more even spread of children with Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) attending these schools.

The Local Authority will be developing guidance on our expectation of all schools with regard to SEND inclusion and giving help to schools to develop in this way. There are options in the consultation about the size of the reduction. A bigger reduction in funding (5% or 7%) would enable us to give schools that have a large number of children with EHCPS some extra funding.

Answer:

At the moment, there is a belief that once a child has an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP), that will continue. For some children that is entirely appropriate, but for other children getting the right help early on should result in a reduction in support. But school staff and parents would need to be ready for this change. For children who need more support, the Annual Review process does seem to be effective.

Answer:

The overall funding for SEND, the High Needs Funding Block (HNFB), will continue being spent on SEND, but we need to make some changes.

There is a big overspend that needs to be reduced, but also we want to spend more on early intervention and post-16. We can’t do that without reducing or changing some of the current spending. We want to hear from people and to consider their views, as there may be factors we have not thought of.

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