Allocating high needs funding: insights from our SEND webinar

When it comes to allocating high needs funding there are a variety of issues that are impacting the process. Increasing numbers of Education Health and Care Plans (EHCPs), tight budgets and calculations based on historical allocations are all part of the key challenges impacting SEND funding.

We identified many of these issues when developing Formulate for SEND, our Education Banding Tool. Considering thousands of statements of need and EHCPs across multiple local authorities, from London boroughs to county councils, we have developed an in-depth understanding of the current processes used to determine the allocation of the High Needs Block. It was also vital that we had the input of parents, speech and language therapists (SALT), Education Psychologists (EPs), Special Educational Needs Co-ordinators (SENCos), EHCP writers and other professionals into the language used within the tool. After much research, we were able to develop an Education Banding Tool suitable for special and mainstream settings that could be configured by each local authority.

We’re currently working with Staffordshire County Council to implement Formulate for SEND, giving them a single tool for use across education settings for children and young people from 0-25 years of age. The tool provides transparent and justifiable decision-making by demonstrating where needs have increased or decreased and the reasons for the associated funding decisions, as well as where outcomes are being met or where they need to be amended in the EHCP.

In our recent webinar, Lesley Calverley, Senior Commissioner - SEND at Staffordshire County Council, joined us to explain her experiences implementing the tool:

“What we liked about the tool is that it’s very much needs-led and it could be introduced into all education settings. This meant we wouldn’t have a situation where different funding mechanisms would be used across different sectors. For us to go back to the drawing board and create our own system would require a significant amount of time and resources.

We liked the tool as it had been created in conjunction with other Headteachers and SENDCos but what we’ve been able to do is make it work for Staffordshire and Imosphere have been really supportive in adapting the tool to fit our needs.”

Staffordshire County Council will see the following core benefits from the Formulate for SEND tool once live:

  • A fair, consistent and transparent way of allocating the High Needs Budget

  • Gaining efficiencies by removing the need for individually negotiated top-up funding with education providers

  • Planning and oversight of budget projections for future years and future benchmarking against other local authorities

  • Improved confidence of keyworkers in ensuring full description of need within Education Health and Care Plans

Throughout the implementation process, Staffordshire wanted to be as open and transparent as possible and developed a communication engagement plan to set out how and when they would communicate with their various stakeholders. The authority also set up an Implementation Group of local authority, education providers, parent/carers and Imosphere representatives.

To find out more about the next stages of Staffordshire County Council’s implementation or for more information on Formulate for SEND, you can register to view the full webinar on-demand.