The Department for Education has launched a call for evidence regarding the funding system for children and young people with SEND in schools and colleges. The consultation also covers Alternative Provision. They are looking at how changes could be made to the funding system to ensure that local authorities, schools, colleges and other providers can effectively support young people whilst still ensuring value for money.
The aim of any changes is to ensure the system ”supports decisions being taken centred around the needs of the child or young person, and what provision will best address those needs, rather than principally for administrative or financial reasons.”
DfE is looking for evidence regarding the following three funding areas:
- funding for pupils with SEND in mainstream schools
- funding for pupils who need alternative provision or are at risk of exclusion
- funding for students with SEND in further education.
Additionally, the review looks at early intervention and preparation for adulthood, as well as effective partnerships between the education, health and care sectors.
Natspec will be responding to the consultation, focusing on the system for further education providers and how funding can be better used. We will be working with all Natspec members and colleagues at the Association of Colleges to collect views in relation to the place planning process, relationships and planning with local authorities, and how the existing funding system affects the ability of specialist and mainstream colleges to budget effectively and plan ahead. Although the high needs budget is very stretched, this particular call for evidence will not be looking at increasing the amount of funding within the SEND system; rather it is looking if there is any way to better distribute the funding at existing levels and whether the current funding arrangements promote short-term financially-motivated decision making that isn’t in the best interests of children or young people.
Natspec members and other FE providers will have views on many parts of the consultation document; for example on whether there are “other aspects of the financial arrangements that are acting as a barrier to young people accessing the support they need, regardless of the amount of funding available… whether there are ways in which the operation of the funding system is inhibiting the achievement of good outcomes, adding to the cost pressures on local authorities’ high needs budgets without preparing young people for adulthood.”
Natspec is also involved in the separate consultation, due out in the next few weeks, with the Department for Education regarding the approach to funding of special post-16 institutions and whether this can be improved.