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SEND High Needs Funding Update

5 November 2020

In 2019, a multi-agency working group of the Schools’ Forum developed a proposed new model for allocating High Needs top-up funding to children and young people with an Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plan. The proposed model aims to link the allocation of funding with the individual needs of a child or young person through the completion of a Banding Descriptors ‘matrix’ with descriptions of different types and levels of SEN (thereby mirroring the structure of our Cheshire East Toolkit for SEND).

What has happened since?

  • June - October 2019: In June and July, 11 consultation sessions on the proposed changes were delivered across various locations in Cheshire East to 131 attendees, which included: Headteachers, teaching staff, school governors, Elected Members, health and social care professionals, parent carers and a young person. Additional sessions were also delivered to local SENCOs (Special Educational Needs Co-ordinators) and Local Authority SEND staff. Input and feedback on the proposals was captured through a number of exercises. In addition to the events, an online consultation was available between July and October 2019. Feedback from the consultations supported continued exploration of the proposed model and shaped amendments to the model before the pilot started.
  • October - November 2019: pilot schools completed and returned Banding Descriptor Matrices for children and young people with EHC Plans in their school, along with feedback sheets based on their experience. 
  • December 2019 - January 2020: the project team carried out an in-depth analysis of the information that pilot schools had submitted. Although feedback on using the matrix was positive, the analysis returned a number of issues that required further consideration. As a result, we extended the analysis phase of this pilot.
  • March – July 2020: To further understand the issues, individual meetings took place with each pilot school to discuss their experience of using the Banding Descriptors Matrix. These meetings were held virtually to ensure the work could proceed despite the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Since then, we have been using the feedback from the pilot schools to work with a range of professionals on amendments to the matrix wording and calculations, whilst also considering potential format changes. We plan to run a second phase of the pilot during 2021 and will be sharing next steps with pilot schools later this month.