Staffordshire County Council Local Authority is aiming to introduce a new Education Banding Tool. This will support the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Team to calculate the education costs of the “top up” funding for children and young people with an Education Health and Care Plan.
How is top up funding allocated by the local authority?
Government guidance says schools should provide up to the first £6,000 of additional or different support for those children who need it. This includes pupils with an Education Health and Care Plan.
For children and young people, who have an Education Health and Care Plan, top up funding is allocated by the Local Authority. It is based on where the child or young person lives, even if they attend a school or college in a different area outside of Staffordshire.
What is the amount of top up funding based on?
The amount of top up funding is based on:
- a child or young person’s special educational needs, and
- the level of support required to achieve the outcomes detailed in their Education Health and Care Plan.
Why is the Education Banding Tool being introduced?
We are introducing an Education Banding Tool to help us to calculate top up funding in a fair and consistent way. The tool allows us to:
- make calculations based on the support a child or young person needs to meet their educational outcomes and
- to secure the special educational provision to meet their special education needs as detailed in their Education Health and Care Plan.
How does it work?
The Education Banding Tool uses a needs profile. This captures a child or young person’s special educational needs using the information in their Education Health and Care Plan. The scored answers in the needs profile are used to calculate an individualised funding band for each child or young person. This is based on a complete picture of their needs linked to the four areas of need as detailed in the SEND Code of Practice.
What are the benefits of the Education Banding Tool?
Staffordshire carried out research on ways of funding before moving ahead with the Education Banding Tool. We wanted a tool which can accurately capture each child or young person’s needs. A key benefit of the Education Banding Tool is that it:
- looks at the holistic needs of the child and young person and
- provides a fair and consistent way of calculating funding which can be revisited when a child or young person’s needs change.
The Education Banding Tool will be used across all sectors of education. We want to reassure parents, carers, children and young people that this is a needs led tool. It is not about reducing funding but making it fair across the whole system.
How are views represented and updates provided?
We recognise that there is much work to be completed before the Education Banding Tool can become live. To ensure that all views are represented, we are drawing on the skills and knowledge of many partners. Representatives from parents, carers, schools and further education sit on the Project Steering Group and the Implementation Reference Group who will track progress of the project.
Part of the Group’s remit will be:
- to develop the Education Banding Tool and
- support the Local Authority to agree the processes to achieve fair funding arrangements for all children and young people with an Education Health and Care Plan
Regular updates will also be provided at Schools Forum, Schools E-bag, Local Offer, Parent/Carer Forum and via the SEND and Inclusion Hubs.
We understand that the introduction of the Education Banding Tool may raise lots of questions. There will be opportunities for parents, carers, children, and young people to share their views so please recheck these pages on the Local Offer for updates.
Partners from Education Providers were recently invited to a launch event. A video of the live launch event can be viewed below.
Presentation slides and questions and answers raised at the live launch are also available below or as a downloadable PDF.
Introduction and Overview
- Single Algorithm which calculates the Education element of the HNB top-up funding for pupils with EHCPs
- It provides a fair, equitable and consistent funding mechanism
- Aim to be implemented across all sectors of education – mainstream, special, PRU and FE
- Needs led rather than provision-based top-up funding
- Not about reducing funding but ensuring it is fair across the system
- Removes the need for individually negotiated top-up funding with providers
- Removes the current inconsistency across the sectors
Introduce Imosphere and the Team
- We believe that by making data easier to capture and analyse, using digital solutions, better decisions can be made to improve outcomes and lives.
- We are committed to providing tools which help provide a fair and consistent approach for allocating money.
- Imosphere have been working in education for the last five years and have been involved in adult and children’s health and social care for the last twenty five years.
- Have been working with Staffordshire County Council for ten years in adult social care.
Izzy – Solutions Consultant
Rob - Product Manager
Kiran – Delivery Team Manager
Natalie – COO
What the Education Banding Tool consists of
Comprised of 3 elements to return a Band for each pupil:
- The Needs Profile – set of questions and answers based on the needs of the young person to be completed by local authority SEND keyworkers.
- The Model – an algorithm which uses the answers from the Needs Profile along with localised decisions.
- Digital Platform – where answers to the needs profile will be completed –Carecalc – Imosphere tool for the first 2 years.
Education Banding Tool: Needs Profile
Collecting information relating to:
- Communicating well
- Achieving potential for learning
- Forming positive relationships and recreation
- Maintaining emotional well-being
- Dealing successfully with change
- Being independent with self care and mobility
- Managing behaviour and risk
- Preparing for adulthood.
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Education Banding Tool: Outputs
- Annual Budget: locally configured by age and educational setting
- Ability to have ranges or graduated amounts in each band, e.g. 8c
- Band Descriptor to provide transparency in how the band was established
- Ability to capture final band decision to enable review of configuration decisions
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How it was developed and why
- Pilot sites wanted to plan for how they would allocate a needs led individualised budget in education linked to the High Needs funding:
–Needed the first step to fairly and consistently allocate this funding.
- Over a thousand cases looked at during the development phase.
- Educational Psychologists, Speech and Language Therapists, Physiotherapists, SENCOs, Head Teachers and senior Case Workers, alongside parents have influenced the wording and domains captured.
- One site tested two different types of approaches with their Headteachers and 7 out of 8 preferred the Imosphere approach and the separation of domains.
- We are always looking at ways to improve the tool and bring local authorities together to review potential changes and new requirements.
Key features and benefits
- Same tool for all children and young people, but configured as required
- Examines risk and the impact this has on funding
- Needs based rather than provision led
- Supports the roll out of personal budgets
- Tracks changing needs over time
- Provides justifiable decision-making
- Supports transition to adulthood
- Tools kept up to date by Imosphere
- Shared learning from other Local Authorities
- Ongoing developments to get the best from the tool
Image: Fair, accurate, consistent, equitable and sustainable
How it is proposed to work in Staffordshire?
- Implemented across all sectors of education – Mainstream, Special, Pupil Referral Unit and Further Education
- SEND Keyworkers will complete the needs profile at the point of drafting a new EHCP or at Annual Review where there has been a significant change in need
- The initial data collection phase will help establish the draft configuration decisions e.g. bands, current funding levels, which will be shared with the Implementation Reference Group and then go out for consultation
High Level Implementation Plan
Project Initiation: Project Set up Jan-March 2021
Project Launch: 25 February 2021
Data Collection: March-May 2021
Financial Modelling and Configuration: June-December 2021
Build: November-December 2021
Test: January 2022
Model Sign 0ff: January 2022
Go Live: 1 February 2022
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During the Implementation
- Support with data collection, configuration and production of reports
- Testing to ensure the algorithm(s) produce the expected results
- Supporting best practice’ implementations and providing training, virtual drop-in sessions and documentation to support decision making and process changes.
After go live
- ‘Floorwalking support’ at go live to help the new solution bed-in and support new users
- Ongoing support and reviews of how things are working
- Annual ‘health check’ visit with a follow-up report detailing how well things are working
- Up to two updates each year for each of your configuration decisions
- Opportunities to share learning with other local authorities.
Tracking project progress
EBT Project Steering Group will be meeting fortnightly to discuss progress and establish work, this will consist of:
- Local Authority staff
- Representatives from schools and FE
- Representatives from parent/carers
- Imosphere Solutions Consultant
Implementation Reference Group will be meeting monthly to share information and progress, this will consist of:
- Wider group of schools and FE representation
- Wider group of parent/carers
- Local Authority staff
Regular updates provided at School Forum, Schools E-bag, Local Offer, Parent/Carer Forum and via the SEND and Inclusion Hubs
Question and Answer Session:
1.Will we get a copy of the slides?
Yes – presentation slides to be published on the Local Offer along with the recording of this presentation.
2. Are we able to complete this for pupils who are not from Staffordshire?
Not at the moment this is currently for children with Staffordshire EHCPs. We do have the potential to do this moving forward. We acknowledge this as a potential need within our Special Schools and will be discussed at the Reference Group.
3. Is this as well as the EHCP Hub or a before step or instead of?
It’s not instead of the EHCP Hub. It is an additional step as part of the SEND Keyworker role. The questions are to be looked at as part of a draft EHCP or if an annual review is suggesting a significant change in need. It will sit on Imosphere’s platform called Carecalc but we could host this on the EHCP Hub or Capita in the future. We will make this decision in the future – we have 2 years to make this decision.
4. This would need to tie in closely to the newly drafted Annual Review Document (ideally with single entry) with IDOX.
This would be if we went through the EHCP Hub route. Within the Implementation Group we have representation from the SEND Assessment Team as key members of the group and this has been flagged up with them and been part of discussions already.
5. Who will be completing the needs profile and who will be able to see it?
The SEND Keyworker will complete the needs profile. A decision needs to be made by the Project Steering Governance Group about how widely the information will be shared once the EBT is live. During the pilot stage it is kept internally as changes will need to be made. This is a process that needs to be discussed.
6. Would this need to be completed annually for all EHCP pupils?
No – only when there is a significant change in their needs. It is a big ask of the SEND Assessment Team to complete the current EHCPs and how we implement this moving forward. Views will be sought from the Reference Group about this, how we take decisions forward and part of the wider consultations.
7. As an annual budget- is this to be paid annually?
Budgets currently given to schools annually – there will be no change to the current budget mechanisms.
8. If it is being completed by SEND Key workers after an EHCNA Annual Review will they be guided by the application only or will there be a meeting with parents/carers/schools etc?
Initial view is this will be guided and contained within the EHCP. The needs identified should be linked to outcomes and therefore should be the driver for allocating finance. This needs to be discussed and agreed as a key principle.
9. Will this be used for children going to Out of Authority, Independent and Non maintained provision?
Yes, and will act as a tool to negotiate fees and costs. If an Independent setting is asking for additional funding this will give us an extra evidence base to have these discussions.
10. Will there be a minimum funding guarantee for Special Schools?
There will be no changes to current minimum funding guarantee arrangements. However, we will be considering what further protection is required as we move pupils to the funding delivered through the Banding Tool but this will form part of the wider school consultation in the Autumn Term. This is not a mechanism to reduce funding but we recognise that there will be winners and losers and we need to make sure we protect at both pupil and school level if appropriate.
11. Will Key Workers from the LA attend the annual reviews to have best information about the pupils?
It is about what is in the plan that is important. Not able to comment on Key Worker attendance at Annual Reviews. This sits within the SEND Assessment Team. They have to prioritise which annual reviews they attend.
12. Can funding be appealed if schools/settings don’t feel they can meet the needs?
We would need to have a discussion about why we would deviate from what the banding tool has given. There are opportunities to change the level of funding linked to something exceptional, but we need to clearly define why we would do this and who for. This will be considered during the pilot.
13. Are current EHCPs going through this process or is it only for new EHCPS?
Current EHCPs are being completed during the pilot period. However, where Key Workers are working on current EHCNAs they will be asked to complete the assessment questions.
14. Will data be shared with LMGs about how many pupils at each “grading” are in their local area and SEND Hubs?
Yes definitely. Very useful to share this and will form part of the district/county intelligence around SEND.
15. Does the LA have the Keyworker capacity to input this information on an annual basis and share information in the timely manner that would be required?
This is a question for the Head of Service. It won’t be done annually for all EHCPs – only those that are suggesting a significant change of need via the annual review or for new EHCPs.
16. Can I join the reference group?
Yes – email details direct to firstname.lastname@example.org . you’re your name, contact details and role in school.
17. Will the funding be only for TA hours as they are now?
The funding will be linked to the needs and outcomes as detailed in the plan and so not limited to TA hours. It will be indicated as a sum of money. This is the biggest shift in using the EBT. The money detailed is to support the outcomes detailed in the EHCP.
18. Will AEN funding be available whilst waiting for an EHCP?
This will still be available but linked to wider decision making. There are no plans to change the funding for pupils who do not have an EHCP within the Banding Tool Project.
19. How many bands are there, and will schools have some understanding of the criteria for each band?
There are 11 bands but this depends on the configuration decisions that Staffordshire are able take e.g. levels between bands a,b,c. This will also come out in the configuration work.
20. How closely will Imosphere be taking into account work which is currently in progress within the LA on the LA’s accessibility and SEN Strategies?
As Imosphere are working closely with LA the workstreams will be aligned.
21. Will special schools be informed of funding levels of prior to consultation for a pupil placement?
This will be considered as part of the process workstream within the project.
22. If the key worker is completing the profile, will they do it alongside school staff. Defining level of risk etc. is not something that can be done remotely. This could be the procedure in the care settings.
This will need to be discussed under the process workstream led by the SEND Team.
23. Who will be quality controlling the EHCP’s as these have previously been identified as not good enough?
Sorry unable to answer that during this session. This would need to be raised with the Head of SEND Assessment Service.
24. When learners move to FE we have seen a pattern of hours, support and needs being reduced not pro rata and not because outcomes have been achieved. How will the banding tool deal with the move to FE?
This is part of the process and in the data collection phase. Need to understand how it is currently allocated and how it needs to work for further education. Currently top up funding is a negotiated figure and there is no clear criteria but this is one of the clear benefits of the EBT.
25. If the schools feel the tool has allocated too low an amount to meet the child’s needs, will there be an appeals process?
There will be an opportunity to re-look at the questions in the FACE assessment. This is part of the process workstream. Further down the line we will understand this clearer and include this in the consultation.
26. Will this leave pupils without a school place as the algorithm does not identify enough funding to access a specialist place?
The algorithm will identify the right level of funding to meet identified needs and outcomes. This goes back to the quality of plans being good enough.
27. If funding for existing EHCPs is reduced as a result of the use of the tool, existing staff hours may be negatively affected. This could leave schools financially burdened due to protected pay. How will schools be supported?
As stated earlier we would be looking at a protection level and will be including this in the consultation with stakeholders.
28. Is it possible that there will be a move to issuing EHCP’s without any funding at all as we have seen in neighbouring authorities?
I don’t think Staffordshire quotes funding in current EHCPs. We quote hours in mainstream and a matrix level in special. If the funding level is not above £6,000 we don’t issue a plan in Staffordshire.
29. FE Providers are able to join the reference group aren’t they?
Yes – some FE providers are already members of the Reference Group. School reps across all schools and parent carer reps. are all on the reference group already.
30. What constitutes a “significant” change of need which would trigger the need for this tool to be used. e.g. requests for an increase in hours. How many hours will it need to be for?
It would not be about an increase in hours. It would be about at the annual review stage when something in the young person’s needs or outcomes would need to be changed. This is when the FACE assessment would need to revisited to see if the funding was changed. It wouldn’t be as the result of a school asking for an increase of 5 hours TA support as it is a needs led approach to funding.
31. What other LA’s already use this banding tool?
A number of London LAs and a Shire LA. Seven LAs in total.
32. Will the current expectation that the schools fund the first £6k of the support continue?
That is a national directive, not a local Staffordshire one. Unless government change plans this will remain the same.
33. If the tool doesn’t take into account health care needs how will we continue to meet the needs of students where the HNB funding is currently paying to support significant health needs to enable to the student to access a school placement?
Think we need to unpick this further. There are questions in the FACE assessment about health elements. Please contact Lesley Calverley if you have raised this as this could be a risk that we need to include to identify in this project. Be useful to look at a number of cases.
34. Is this a national algorithm – that identified fair funding for SEND across the UK or just for Staffordshire?
Not a national algorithm. The algorithm has been developed by Imosphere following consultation with Headteachers and others. Impsohere came to Staffordshire to give a presentation including Schools Forum Members and this project has been taken forward since then.
35. Will there be a consultation with the parents regarding the changes? Many parents look at the hour’s allocation for their child. Now it will be an amount this may confuse the system for some.
A comms will be shared with parents/carers. We are working with the parent carer forum and SENDIASS to produce the communication.
36. How does the algorithm take into account the parental preferences around education for the pupil (which is protected in law)?
There is a question that asks about planned education setting, this would take into consideration of preferences. The process when parents ask for a particular school will need to be considered as part of this work.
37. The London Boroughs are very well funded. Can Staffordshire afford this?
Cannot magic additional funding we all know the pressures that Staffordshire face across the high needs block but what we want to achieve is a fair and consistent approach to allocating top up funding to all our children. This is the key message. The discussion around shortfalls of funding in Staffordshire is much wider than this.
38. Will this be designed to dovetail with CHC funding as the threshold for receiving that funding is very high and many with complex health needs don’t meet the criteria at the DST meeting?
This has been discussed with Health colleagues and they are happy with their current system for allocating health funding. This may be something we want to consider for the social care side. This tool is used for our adult care teams across Staffordshire for 10 years but this is the first time we have used it for children.
39. At the beginning Natalie said there would an hours equivalent with the total budget, would this be on the plan or the total figure?
We’ve still got to decide whether we use the EBT to quote hours in Staffordshire. A lot of the questions being asked we will be able to unpick during the pilot stage and with the reference group.
40. If an annual review has been bought forward due to the child now having significantly higher needs, will there be any difference in the annual review templates to complete?
This will be picked up in the process element work with the SEND Assessment Team as they are also doing some work with annual reviews.
Thank you very much for attending. Lovely to see so many people here. Please let us know if you have any further questions. We will keep you informed through the Comms Plan. We have a lot to pull off in a short space of time. Thank you very much.