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SEN experts! Would you mind having a look at my LAs funding arrangements please?

(208 Posts)
PolterGoose Fri 17-Jan-14 12:46:03

High needs funding arrangements here

Ds is getting 'element 3' high needs top up funding. There's an interesting explanation about how the LA have separated funding from statements, which I assume is unusual as they've explained how it is legal.

There's also been a 50% increase in parental requests for SA, so current arrangements clearly aren't working?

I'm not really asking anything in particular, just fishing for thoughts from experienced people.

Thanks smile

PolterGoose Fri 17-Jan-14 13:09:26

I've just had a lightbulb moment, the funding that school are getting is for 'severe and complex needs' so the LA have already accepted ds as having significant additional needs. I'm just as guilty as those who don't see beyond ds's amazing speech, extensive vocabulary and academic achievements. Actually he does deserve more support, it should be more than 'enough to get him through the day without hitting anyone'. I shouldn't have to pick up the pieces at home.

Ineedmorepatience Fri 17-Jan-14 13:18:54

You are so right polter I am sorry that you are still having to fight for your Ds despite the LA knowing that he has these needs.

At our meeting with the LA the other day we kept being told that Dd3 is scoring high on the national curriculum levels so she doesnt need a statutory assessment but we have decided to let the tribunal judge make that call based on the evidence that we have gathered and the fact that the LA wrote in a letter that they agree that she has SEN!!

Good luck whatever you decide to do smile

claw2 Fri 17-Jan-14 13:22:58

Cant look, its requesting user name and password Polter.

One thing that struck me was your 'funding school are getting is for 'severe and complex needs', so they have accepted this.

Ds was receiving SALT provision for 'severe needs'. He had a terms worth of therapy, then SALT decided 'cant see any difficulties' and stopped therapy!

I suppose my point is can funding be removed at any time?

Is funding a) being used by school for your ds and b) is it being used appropriately for your ds

PolterGoose Fri 17-Jan-14 13:26:43

No to a and b.

That's odd about the password, I found the document through a google search. If you're interested I used 'Somerset high needs funding' in the google search box. It was the first hit.

PolterGoose Fri 17-Jan-14 13:29:47

Thanks Ineed it's crap, it really is. I think I get waylaid by the progress ds has made, that he is very confident and he doesn't school refuse.

I would speak to IPSEA about this Poltergoose; I am sure they would be interested in hearing about their policy.

PolterGoose Fri 17-Jan-14 13:42:00

I will do that Attila, it seems very odd and seems to give an awful lot of power to head teachers.

claw2 Fri 17-Jan-14 13:48:07

Managed to look now, which page is explanation about LA separating funding?

PolterGoose Fri 17-Jan-14 13:52:03

It's Annex 11 but I can't see page numbers on phone.

claw2 Fri 17-Jan-14 13:54:02

Ok thanks

claw2 Fri 17-Jan-14 14:02:27

I read it as children without statements can have access to the increased funding (top up) and children with statements can also have access to top ups if they meet the top up criteria.

claw2 Fri 17-Jan-14 14:42:31

Sorry I was reading the wrong bit!

uggerthebugger Fri 17-Jan-14 14:52:46

I've had a quick skim. I don't have much that'll be of direct help to your immediate situation Polter, but here goes:

1.1.7 - Interesting, this. I've never seen the LA's dilemma spelled out so clearly. If they overspend on SEN, their Designated Schools Grant (the grant that Whitehall sends the LA to fund their schools) takes a hit.

It explains a fair bit - but justifies nothing. The DSG is fucking huge in proportion to the LA's SEN budget, and an overspend in high-needs SEN would make a gnat's pinprick on the DSG.

There are countries around the world who run successful space programmes on less than Somerset got in its DSG budget this year - check this for more

Sections 1 and 7.4 pretty neatly shows just how much autonomy school senior leadership teams have these days in allocating resources for high-needs kids with SEN. What it doesn't show is how little accountability they have, or the extent to which this funding is linked to actual fucking outcomes.

I agree with what claw says this document's main message on nominal access to high-needs funding. The devil is very much in the detail though, and it looks fucking hard to get the highest levels - and as you know, without a statement there's no mechanism for legally ensuring that the school's SLT will allocate resources as they're supposed to.

7.7 says that only evidence from the school counts when making the application for high-needs funding, and tries to justify this with reference to the "new" SENCOP. You know, the one that hasn't been finalised yet, and that most commentators say is a sack of leaky shit.

7.11 - "Where a Statement of SEN / EHC Plan is in place, the Headteacher is required to meet the need and make provision using the totality of resources available in the school's delegated budget. There is no access to individually targeted resources on the basis of the child having a Statement of SEN." - Wow. Just, wow.

Annex 1 - I can't speak for the ASD criteria used here, but the criteria for assessing funding for my DSs' disabilities look like they have been deliberately designed to bar certain types of high need from the highest levels of funding.

Annex 11 - Jesus wept. This annex is a defensive briefing provided by the LA to school heads so that when Ofsted inspectors visit and ask "why the hell aren't these kids statemented?" the school senior leadership teams have a line to take. Ignoring the fact that outcomes aren't mentioned anywhere. Ignoring the fact that the line to take is based on legislation which hasn't even been finalised. And "the indicator of parental confidence"? FFS...

lougle Fri 17-Jan-14 15:07:18

Rushing, so will only post briefly to place mark, but here's your problem, Poltergoose:

"7.4How can we use the High Needs funding?

Answer:High Needs funding is delegated to the school. It is for the Headteacher to decide how best to meet the identified needs of individual pupils, from the totality of their delegated budget. High Needs Element 3 funding is additional 'top up' funding to meet the cost of actions taken by the school that are additional to, and different from, the school arrangements under Elements 1 and 2." pg. 21

What they're saying is that the school can decide how to use the funding. So, if they have 3 high needs pupils and get, say, 45 hours TA support equivalent time for them, they could use 30 for one pupil and 7.5 for each of the other two, as an example. That's because they are given a monetary value, not a set of hours with your DS's name on it.

PolterGoose Fri 17-Jan-14 15:58:29

Wow! Thank you. I don't know enough to critique it but it felt 'wrong'.

lougle that makes sense, I get it now. But the way it's set up seems to be the same whether a child is on SA+ or has a statement. I'm betting there are a lot of really crap statements here with nothing quantified.

Part of the reason I want a copy of ds's school file is because it will have a copy of the application for funding and the basis on which it was given. I know that 'his' funding isn't ring-fenced, but the fact he now gets sweet FA except playtime supervision (but not always) and 1-1 for the 30 minute swimming 'lesson' a week alternate half terms, just is immoral. If school consider that he doesn't need the support they should hand back the money.

I'm going round in circles a bit, I need to apply for SA and I need to see it through. I am not after more 'hours' or funding, I just need his needs identified and for the recommendations of the professionals, mostly already involved, to be applied. He needs an EP assessment.

claw2 Fri 17-Jan-14 16:13:22

It reminds me of previous ds's school, who urged me to apply for FREE school milk and FREE school dinners, even though ds doesn't drink milk or eat school dinners!

When I asked the point of applying 'So school has more money'

It seems funding is for the benefit of the school, not the child.

Ineedmorepatience Fri 17-Jan-14 16:23:00

The point I tried really hard to make to the LA was that any funding given to the schools to support children on SA+ is not ring fenced and does not and will never guarantee that Dd3 will get the support she needs.

We are going down the statementing route to hopefully ensure that Dd3 has a legal document containing her needs and the strategies needed to support her!

PolterGoose Fri 17-Jan-14 16:25:12

Sounds like we've got very similar issues sad

Ineedmorepatience Fri 17-Jan-14 16:32:01

Afraid so polter

If you can afford an Independent Ed Psych assessment it is a good starting point. Especially if you suspect/know he has gaps in his learning.
Dd3 has a madly spikey profile cognitively from the 86th centile down to the 3rd. I was very shocked despite knowing that she was struggling in some areas.

Being on this board is great when you are facing tough decisions or fighting battles because there is always someone around to help. smile

AgnesDiPesto Fri 17-Jan-14 16:43:19

Most LAs who are already highly delegating are doing something similar. Mine has delegated 20 hours for several years and only gives statement above 20 hours.
The funding changes equate to about 12 hours (£6000 from school delegated SEN budget). So in theory the bar for a Statement should drop to 12 hours.
The LA is insistent it would be utterly ridiculous to start writing statements again for children who get between 12 and 20 hours so are coming up with a similar banding / resource allocation system

It is quite horrible to set it out in these terms but in reality it is nothing new. This has always gone on behind closed doors. DS def had a pricetag on his head at nursery - we spent 18 months fighting for SA and then wording in statement and he ended up with a statement which came to the same magic number we calculated they were intending to offer on day one. All the collecting of evidence was a smokescreen they decided the amount and just picked the bits of evidence that supported that and ignored the rest. So off to tribunal we went.

DS would I think be their ASC level 3 - LA would have argued he was ASC 2. Even at level 3 that would be £4000 AWPU+ £6000 school contribution + £6500 max high needs top up. In actual fact his ABA programme is over twice this amount (and he is moderate ASC, passive not aggressive so nowhere near the top of their criteria).

Which shows that you should just stick two fingers up at LA resource allocation systems, which are after all just internal policy arrangements and take your chances at Tribunal where they go (mostly) by the law.

I do think the application forms would be very interesting! How much time teachers spend planning and having meetings about DS ha bloody ha! That would be a big blank entry.

What really upsets me is if a part of the form is blank (because school has not done what they should) the form is rejected! No one seems particularly concerned the child is not getting what they should! Its like no evidence school has done job = computer says no.

The obsession with all things TEACCH and visual is a bit depressing. That bit of DS form would be blank too because we don't use TEACCH methods. No doubt someone would reject him for high needs funding completely on that basis.

lougle Fri 17-Jan-14 16:48:37

The model is very similar to the audit system for special schools in my County. They get base funding per pupil, then the children are audited at specific points and the school gets funding based on the total number of children on each 'step' of the audit system.

I do think that there is a danger in getting caught up in the intricacies of funding.

We shouldn't and don't have to craft clever arguments to establish that they're only spending £350.56 on a DC when they've actually been given £387.27 and therefore should be able to meet the needs.

The question is: 'Can this school meet the needs of this child from within the resources normally available to schools in the area? '

If the answer is yes, then the child needs to be getting that support from the school. If they aren't then the school must be pushed to provide adequately.

If the answer is no, then the child needs to be given a Statement/EHCP plan.

This should never be about the cost of provision and it is a good thing that some LAs are creating systems to release funding without the need for a statement.

It's also a good thing that cost is nothing to do with statementing, because I think there is an overemphasis on SEN support= 1:1 support and that is how the cost has been so linked to statementing, because it's quite easy to quantify the cost of 1:1 support from a person.

As you've quite rightly pointed out, Polter, for your DS the provision needed is small but significant accomodations and flexibilities rather than an extra body in the classroom. That's much harder to cost.

Additionally, schools should be pressured to provide support that is needed and encouraged to see it as their role, rather than assuming that someone else should be telling them what to do for children with SEN and ignoring needs unless they're bad enough for statements.

If that was the case, then parents would be less inclined to seek statements when what they actually need is not the level of support that a statement should bring, but the accountability that comes with the legal document.

If schools were seen as more trustworthy, then it would be seen as a huge step forward that more money is delegated and less time consuming processes are needed to access support. The only way that will change is if the pressure is applied by LAs on schools to use the resources at their disposal.

PolterGoose Fri 17-Jan-14 16:55:29

Thanks Agnes and lougle it helps to hear your views.

lougle in answer to the question 'Can this school meet the needs of this child from within the resources normally available to schools in the area?' the answer is 'Yes, of course they can', but they're not. This is why it's so ridiculous.

lougle Fri 17-Jan-14 17:01:12

ugger: "7.7 says that only evidence from the school counts when making the application for high-needs funding, and tries to justify this with reference to the "new" SENCOP."

This doesn't mean that evidence from other areas can't be seen by the moderators. What it means is that if evidence from outside the school is significant to the application, it is for the school to gather it and provide it to the moderation team. That means that there is a level playing field.

Otherwise, you could have a situation where a moderator says 'Oh yes, I know little Johnny's second cousin and sometimes see them in town. He's a right handful.' and sway the funding.

So, they ensure that the moderators are not from the same area as the audit applications, and that the only evidence considered is that provided by the school (but not necessarily originating from the school).

lougle Fri 17-Jan-14 17:06:01

Polter remember though, that the measure of whether they can meet the needs of the child is 'has the child made progress.' If you can evidence that his behaviour has deteriorated "despite all these measures from the school", then there is a situation where either the school has to say 'arrgh, actually, we haven't done that....' and has to provide the support, or the LA has to conclude at some point that 'their best' isn't enough.

If a child needs 30 adjustments to progress, and the school puts in place 29 adjustments, then the fact that most children only need 15 adjustments to progress is irrelevant. The fact is that this child has not progressed because the 30th measure was not put in place. If the school can't meet the 30th adjustment from the budget, then the LA needs to decide either that:

a) the school needs top up funding to provide it (ie. the adjustment itself is within the school budgets, but the sheer number of adjustments pushes them beyond their financial resources)

OR

b) the school can't reasonably provide that particular adjustment so the LA needs to make a statement.

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