Education Banding Tool Guidance

The Education Banding Tool (EBT) guidance explains Staffordshire County Council’s Element 3 top-up funding which is met from the High Needs Block linked to the education need of children and young people who have a Staffordshire Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP).    

Element 3 top-up funding is the funding required over and above the place funding to enable a child or young person with high needs to participate in education and learning.



In January 2021 the Local Authority made the decision to implement the Imosphere Education Banding Tool (EBT) to support consistency in funding for education High Needs Block top-up decision making with equitable distribution of resources across and within the education sectors for children and young people with an EHCP.

Following the development of a detailed implementation plan, the EBT went live on a phased implementation approach from 14th March 2022 for placements of Staffordshire children and young people in maintained, academy and independent mainstream schools and maintained and academy specialist provision in respect of:

  • All Draft EHCPs following Education Health and Care Needs Assessment
  • All Amended EHCPs where there is a significant change in need as identified through the annual review process

Throughout the implementation period, from February 2021, there has been consistent and timely engagement and communications with our stakeholders.  All slides and notes from the Steering Group and Implementation Reference Group meetings, Parent/Carer workshops etc have been published on the Local Offer.  We have worked in partnership throughout the implementation period with the EBT developers, Imosphere, to refine the EBT Pupil’s Need Profile to ensure it works effectively for Staffordshire’s children and young people.

The DfE High Needs Funding Guidance 2021-22 paragraph 254 states that “Where a child or young person with SEN has relevant health or social care needs, these should be addressed within an EHC plan. Responsibility for securing the provision specified in the plan sits with the relevant statutory bodies: the local authority for education and social care provision [Section F & H], and either the Clinical Commissioning Group or (in some cases) NHS England for health provision [Section G]”. 

The EBT only allocates funding linked to an education provision (Section F) and therefore does not include funding for health or social care provision detailed within the EHCP (sections G, H and H1). 

This guidance will provide details of the EBT and includes:

  • EBT Overview and Benefits
  • Principles
  • Funding Values
  • EBT Override
  • Process and Pathway
  • Training and Quality Assurance
  • Roles and Responsibilities

Supporting documentation

EBT Overview and Benefits
  1.  The primary aims of the EBT are:
    • A tool that generates an indicative budget that covers the education contribution for a child or young person with an EHCP
    • A fair and accurate method and evidence base when allocating funding
    • A tool that provides consistency and equity of funding for children and young people with additional needs
    • Removal of individually negotiated top-up funding with Education Providers as each child and young person will be allocated a calculated band reflective of their individual needs
    • A needs-led rather than provision-led calculation of top-up funding

  2. There are 11 Band Levels within the EBT (Level 0 to 10).  There are three sub levels which are utilised from Band Level 5 to Level 9 ‘a’ to ‘c’ and for Level 10 they range from ‘a’ to ‘e’.

  3. The baseline band is determined using the nine education areas recorded in the EBT Pupil's Need Profile questions and is completed using information contained within the child or young person's EHCP.

  4. The nine education areas within the Pupil's Need Profile are:

    • Communicating well
    • Achieving potential for learning
    • Developing and enjoying recreation activities and community inclusion
    • Forming positive relationships
    • Maintaining emotional well-being
    • Dealing successfully with change within an education setting
    • Being independent with self-care
    • Being independent with mobility and motor skills
    • Managing behaviour

  5. Each of the education areas are measured from the child or young person being able to manage with little or no support to having complex and severe needs that requires continuous support. 

  6. After calculating the initial baseline band, the EBT determines whether or not the band needs to be increased to ensure appropriate top-up funding is provided to account for certain/specific factors as detailed below:

    • Risk of accidental or intentional harm when in an education setting
    • Impact of sensory impairments and/or processing difficulties
    • Preparing for post-16 education and adulthood
    • Social, Emotional and Mental Health

  7. Once all questions in the Pupil's Needs Profile have been answered, the EBT calculates a band based on the above factors, and returns the final band with Staffordshire’s locally configured indicative top-up funding for this band.
  1. Key principles have been established when completing the Pupil's Need Profile questions:

    • Use of the contents of the EHCP only which is based on professional advice
    • Use the multiple-choice options to identify the child or young person’s additional support needs, rather than needs associated with their age
    • Reflect the ‘underlying need’. Imagine the child or young person on their own without any support in place.
    • Any equipment or technology already in place should be taken into account
    • If a need is not mentioned in the EHCP, the assumption can be made it is not a need impacting the child or young person.
    • After following all of the above principles, if in doubt between two responses, choose the higher level.

  2. Funding principles, which supported the financial modelling and configuration stage of the EBT, were developed to support the values placed upon each Band Level.

  3. The Local Authority gave assurances that this was not a cost reducing tool but a tool that ensures the benefits described in the "EBT Overview and Benefits" section above.

  4. The following education provisions will remain out of scope of the EBT:

    • Staffordshire special schoolmcommissioned planned places.  The term special school relates to both maintained and academy special schools
    • Staffordshire special school residential commission
    • Staffordshire special school Lump Sum
    • Staffordshire mainstream schools Additional Educational Need (AEN) high level protection
    • Staffordshire children and young people with an EHCP placed in other Local Authority special schools, academies, free schools and independent special schools
    • Independent mainstream school fees in relation to Staffordshire children and young people with an EHCP
    • Staffordshire children and young people without an EHCP where additional High Needs Block funding (AEN) has been allocated by the Local Authority or the SEND Hub
    • Post 16 Specialist Institutions
    • Post 16 Further Education placements – The Local Authority is currently considering its options in partnership with providers; with regard to implementation of the EBT to Further Education and Post 16 training providers due to the complexities and challenges of funding in this sector.

  5. Any Staffordshire children or young people admitted to a Staffordshire special school on an early intervention/assessment placement, therefore without an EHCP, will be funded at Band Level 5b. This acknowledges that children and young people placed on an early intervention/assessment placement may have already been identified through the Early Years Forum as more complex and therefore requiring more specialist input.

  6. The funding value will be based upon a full-time education offer and the value will be adjusted accordingly for any placement on a part-time basis or with reduced guided learning hours.  32.5 hours per week will be assumed as a full-time education offer to ensure the full day is covered

  7. Children and young people within a sixth form placement will have their banding adjusted to reflect the reduction in guided learning hours for a Post 16 Study Programme.

  8. There is no difference of funding linked to the age of the child or young person as it is a needs driven tool and not provision led.  Element 1 addresses the curriculum offer in a mainstream school and the special school planned place funding (Element 1 and 2) addresses the curriculum offer in a special school with the small class sizes this funding enables.  

    Element 1 funding is the Age Weighted Pupil Unit (AWPU) – this money is given by the government via the Local Authority and pays for the basic costs for every child in the school regardless of any SEN. It's normally said to cover staffing and premises costs. It is sometimes called the “bums on seat” money.

    Element 2 funding is to provide SEN support that is additional to or different from the support that most other children get.

  9. To acknowledge statutory staffing ratios for early years children, there will be an additional funding allocation for children 2-3 years of age within a special school. This additional allocation will be paid as a funding enhancement linked to the individual child.   This would not apply to early years mainstream schools as their core funding already addresses the required staffing ratios regardless of a child or young person’s SEND status, whereas special school funding does not address this as it is a fixed £10k per place regardless of the child or young person's age.

  10. For children and young people resident outside of Staffordshire, but admitted to a Staffordshire school, the Element 3 top up funding is agreed between the school and the child or young person’s home Local Authority.  Schools may want to consider a comparative Staffordshire child or young person with the same/similar level of needs to support funding level decisions as a Pupil's Need Profile will not be undertaken by the SEND Keyworker to determine a band level.
Funding values
  1. For each of the Band Levels 0-10, the Local Authority has considered financial values and the use of sub levels from Band Level 5 and above which will allow for a fair and steady increase in top-up funding between levels, especially for those with higher levels of need.

  2. There will be different EBT Band Level top-up funding values for mainstream and specialist education provider placements.

  3. EBT Band Levels and values will be published on the Local Offer annually and will include the previous years’ values.

  4. There will be an annual review of the EBT, and funding attributed to each Band Level, in partnership with Imosphere, to ensure they are appropriate and deliver minimum funding guarantee requirements set by government.  The outcome of this review will be shared with Schools Forum.
EBT Override
  1. It is acknowledged that there may be occasions when the funding attributed through the EBT may be insufficient to support the needs of the child or young person.

  2. To ensure we retain the integrity of the EBT there is an agreed list of circumstances when the EBT funding level can be overridden, and this list will be regularly reviewed and currently includes:

    • Short term transition funding
    • SEND Tribunal outcome
    • Placement at Education Providers which are out of scope of the EBT.  This includes: ASD Bases, Independent specialist/school provider, Specialist Post 16 Institution (SPI) other Local Authority special schools and Free schools
    • Communication Support Worker to be employed due to:
      • British Sign Language sign support of the curriculum
      • Modification of curriculum into Braille
      • Recent diagnosis with imminent loss of sight
    • Risk of suicide and self-harm
    • Serious safeguarding/sexualised behaviour/perpetrator behaviour
    • Post-operative additional short-term support
    • History of malicious accusations against staff
    • High risk of significant/severe absconding (risk assessment in place)

  3. A strong governance system has been established to support the Local Authority’s decision making in relation to override and values through the County Decision Making Group chaired by the Head of SEND.
Process and Pathway
  1. The Pupil's Need Profile questions will be completed by the SEND Keyworker.

  2. The completed Pupil's Need Profile will be shared with parent/carers and education providers at the draft EHCP stage through the EHC Hub Portal but will not form part of the EHCP as it is not statutory advice.

  3. The EBT Band Level will be included within the Draft EHCP and the Final EHCP.

  4. EHCPs will show the EBT Band Level and if an override has been approved through County Decision Making Group. It will then provide the Band Level plus the additional funding agreed for the override and the period of time the override funding is to be in place.

  5. Whilst the EHCP for a mainstream school placement will no longer describe the teaching assistant hours per week, or for special school placements the Matrix Level, within Section F of the plan, it will still summarise the support needed and who it is to be provided by.

  6. Provision will continue to be quantified and specified within the “support needed” and any specified amounts will be recorded in the EHCP.

  7. Schools should be able to share with parent/carers and other professionals at any time a provision map for a child or young person as this is a transparent method of showing the range of provision available throughout the school. It allows education providers to monitor, evaluate and plan the development of provision, increase access for disadvantaged groups, secure the entitlement of all children and young people and raise achievement and standards.

  8. The benefits of a costed provision map would also describe the additional provision/support currently being offered to an individual child or young person and detail the costs of this provision

  9. If a parent/carer has concerns about how the funding is allocated to their child or young person’s Education Provider then the Local Authority would recommend they request a copy of their child’s individual costed provision map.

  10. If an Education Provider wishes to challenge the EBT Band Level then this can be considered either through the EBT Override reasons or through undertaking an early annual review as the response to the Pupil's Need Profile are based upon the needs of the child or young person detailed within the EHCP.

  11. If a parent/carer or young person has concerns/comments regarding the content of the Draft EHCP then they would contact their SEND Keyworker to discuss.
Training and Quality Assurance
  1. A detailed training plan was prepared to support the implementation of the EBT and to ensure consistency of practice when completing the Pupil's Need Profile questions.

  2. Wider training is provided to Local Authority Officers which provides an overview of the EBT, the Pupil's Need Profile, principles and functionality of the EBT and the process and pathways to be followed.

  3. SEND Keyworkers must undertake mandatory training which is in addition to the above and will provide greater details on completing a Pupil's Need Profile and the digital platform known as CareCalc.  This consists of a number of videos and the reading and understanding of a detailed Assessor Guide.

  4. Guidance and training to SEND Keyworkers will be prvided for the SEND business processes linked to the Capita One system and the EHC Hub.

  5. EBT Band Level Ratification will be undertaken by the Family Practitioner Lead – SEND/Education and will be linked to the EHCP sign-off using the agreed template.  The Children’s & Families, Intelligence, Performance and Engagement Team (IPET) will undertake a dip sample analysis of the ratification output to identify themes and areas of improvement.

  6. A Monthly Audit will be undertaken by the Family Practitioner Lead – SEND/Education through a random sample of completed Pupil's Need Profile.  This will be actioned jointly with the SEND Keyworker following an agreed audit template and would be cross-district.  Analysis of output will be undertaken by IPET to identify themes and areas of improvement.

  7. Termly Moderation will be undertaken.  This will be Peer to Peer support between two SEND Keyworkers using one of their completed Pupil's Need Profile each.

  8. Annual Standardisation will be a practical group exercise led by the Head of SEND and the SEND Principal Officers, where Family Practitioner Leads – SEND/Education and SEND Keyworkers will all complete a Pupil's Need Profile for the same child or young person and then identify and analyse discrepancies /patterns as a group to support consistency.
Roles and Responsibilities
  1. Head of SEND

    • Oversight and lead of the EBT
    • Undertake termly review during phased implementation period
    • Undertake annual review in partnership with Imosphere
    • Oversight and lead of Annual Standardisation Workshop with the SEND Principal Officers

  2. Family Practitioner Leads – SEND/Education

    • Completion of mandatory training and familiarisation with Assessor’s Guidance and Processes
    • Ensure Keyworkers have completed mandatory training and any updates as part of CPD
    • Ensure any new accounts are requested via SEND Tipping Street for any new starters
    • Completion of EHCP Sign off and EBT Band Level Ratification using the agreed template for all EHCPs
    • A Monthly Audit will be undertaken by the Family Practitioner Lead - SEND/Education through a random sample of completed PNP’s
    • Ensure completion of Termly Moderation is undertaken by SEND Keyworkers and share any wider learning with Family Practitioner Leads, Principal SEND Officers and Head of SEND
    • Attend Annual Standardisation

  3. SEND Keyworkers

    • Completion of mandatory training and familiarisation with Assessor’s Guidance and Processes
    • Completion of Pupil Needs Profile for all Draft EHCPs and Proposed Amended EHCPs with effect from 14th March 2022
    • Termly Peer Moderation of completed Pupil Need Profiles
    • Attend Annual Standardisation

  4. SEND Admin (

    • Receive requests for new account activation and notify relevant staff member of their log in details via email.
    • Email termly request for update on staff from each Family Practitioner Lead Send and Education to ensure any staff members who are no longer within service have their account ended.

  5. IPET

    • Undertake a dip sample analysis of the ‘EHCP Sign off and EBT ratification’ output to identify themes and areas of improvement and share with Head of SEND.
    • Will collate and analyse the Monthly Audit output to identify themes and areas of improvement and share with Head of SEND.
    • Will attend Standardisation Workshop to and gather their evidence to support their role and share with Head of SEND

  6. SEND Finance

    • Annually review with Budget Holder and update EBT financial values which are then shared with School Forum and published on the Local Offer
    • Attend County Decision Making Group and update Capita provision with individual pupil financial outcome
    • Update Capita provision for Special School Specific funding
    • Update Capita provision for Special School Early Years funding

  7. Imosphere

    • Provide support and maintenance of the EBT
    • Maintain training materials
    • Update and maintain the CareCalc platform
    • Provide CareCalc Customer Portal Helpdesk 
    • Provide a personalised annual review of the EBT for Staffordshire
Version history

Superseded documents:

  • The Staffordshire Special School - Matrix Manual April 2021 – once the EBT has been fully implemented.


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