Thursday, 7 March 2013

Changes to funding special needs via statements – bands not specificity?

Question: My local authority (LA), at a training event for parents yesterday (SEND Local Offer & Funding Training) told us that they will cease to quantify provision in statements of special educational need (SEN) in terms of hours but will instead refer to a 'banding'. Apparently this isn't their decision but is being forced upon them by the DfE via the way schools are funded from 1 Apr 13 and the Children and Families Bill.
They will now include the following in all new statements made and amended statements from 1 April:
For statements with 12.5 hrs but no 'top-up' funding:
"Therefore, child’s needs will be met from the school's own resources and arrangements detailed in the Local Offer"
For statements that will attract 'top-up' funding:
"Therefore, child’s needs will be met from the school's own resources and arrangements detailed in the Local Offer. In addition, Children's Services will provide funding based on Band X pro rata for the balance of the financial year."
I understand that under the current legislation LAs are required to clearly quantify provision in Part 3. Does the way schools are funded guidance and/or the new legislation allow LAs to refer to bands in statements?
This a significant step backwards if this is the case!

IPSEA's answer: ISPEA are very clear that the changes to how SEN is funded do not change the law on SEN and therefore any move to remove specificity from a child’s statement is not legal unless based on good evidence that that particular child no longer needs it. We have gone back directly to the DfE on this to check that there has been no change of policy and have received this response:
“You will recall that in 2010, in the guidance “Improving the quality of statements of special educational needs – Good practice in writing statements”, we stated that,
“11. Funding
Resourcing levels or funding are not special educational provision per se, and are not a substitute for a detailed level of provision.
The LA has a statutory duty to secure special educational provision for children with statements (‘arrange that the special education provision specified in the statement is made’) and to outline how it ensures that the provision is made. The LA’s arrangements for funding statements should be subject to separate information, and the LA’s funding scheme should be clear about what levels and type of special provision is funded respectively by the school and by the LA. Such information is a statutory requirement (The Special Educational Needs (Provision of Information by Local Education Authorities) (England) Regulations 2001). If necessary, LAs should review and clarify with their schools the responsibilities of each for SEN provision, including what schools are routinely expected to fund. These arrangements should be reinforced through the ways in which provision is described in Part 3.
This position does not change as a result of the funding reforms. What we are saying is that the new funding system places even greater emphasis on LAs and schools being clear about the types of special educational provision each is responsible for providing.”
IPSEA would be very happy to follow up directly with any LA that has adopted this approach to specificity in statements. Please let us know.


  1. They tried this in Walsall. My son's Statement only referred to banding, no hours. I spoke with the assessment officer, who was quite understanding. When I sent back the proposed Statment with comments, I included all the relevant laws and guidance, (the Act, Regulations, SEN Cop, Improving the Quality...) plus the relevant case laws. At the meeting with the officer, we were told that she had met with her manager and they, (Walsall) had reversed their position. All Statements would be issued with hours as well as banding. All previously issued Statements would be recalled and altered. Score one for the parents and children!!

  2. I have an issue with my son's proposed Statement. Originally, the provision was worded as above, referring to banding only. During our meeting with the Assessment Officer it was agreed that the hours would be specified.

    We received the ammended Statement and now the wording is as follows: Therefore, child’s needs will be met from the school's own resources and arrangements detailed in the Local Offer. In addition, Children's Services will provide funding based on Band 9 (equivalent to 25 hours Teaching Assistant per week) pro rata for the balance of the financial year.

    To me, this means absolutely nothing in terms of how the funding the school receives will be spent on my child. It seems as if the hours equivalant is merely a suggestion as to how the money could be spent and the Statement has more of a good intentions effect, than a legally enforceable documnt. It could as easily state "...Band 9, (equivalant to 9 Ipads)...". Am I overly cynical in this thinking?

  3. This topic is now very important to me. My LA has stopped specifying hours in statements as from 1 April despite expert legal opinion passed to me that to do so is illegal. The LA seems confident that any such legal challenge can be batted off.
    My first question is this. Does IPSEA think that the DfE reply to the question that your correspondent has raised is clear? It seems to me that they have avoided answering her question. Has some back-door advice been given to LAs that, in the opinion of DfE lawyers, LAs may omit hours from statements and still meet the need for sufficient specificity?
    My second question is to ask whether IPSEA can say how many LAs, to their knowledge, are travelling this route. I cannot believe that many LAs have independently decided to omit statement hours as from 1 April. Someone has advised them (rightly or wrongly) that it is safe to do so.
    Of course, as ever, it will to up the the courts to decide on what is lawful.


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