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A message from Matt Dunkley CBE:

18 May 2018 weekly update

18 May 2018

This week, Matt recaps some of the key communications and milestones with regards to how High Needs Funding has developed to this point in Kent; and provides a timely reminder of the pressures on our high needs block.

Dear Colleagues

High Needs Funding

Two weeks ago, I highlighted the Government’s Education Committee inquiry as an opportunity to share Kent schools’ experience of delivering the Children and Families Act 2014 SEN reforms. One of the key lines of questioning in the call for evidence has been the level and distribution of funding for SEND provision. This of course has been the focus of our debates at recent Headteacher meetings, and we will be discussing options for change to HNF from April 2019 at our meetings next term.

At the last Headteacher meetings I agreed to write to you with a reminder of some of the key communications and milestones with regards to how HNF has developed to this point in Kent. In this week’s bulletin we do that and provide a timely reminder of the pressures on our high needs block to support your submissions to the select committee.

The resources we have in Kent are considerable and yet we have been spending above the level of the high needs block. As a floor funded authority, our funding is effectively being capped and this is a concern given that we are experiencing increases in the number of children and young people with SEND and the demand for resources to support them.

When Kent first introduced the system to target high needs funding in mainstream schools (April 2015), the forecast demand was based around the 900 children and young people who were attracting individually assigned resources at that time. Throughout 2015 and 2016 large increases in demand were reported to the Schools Funding Forum, and by March 2017 as well as overspending it had also become clear that with the introduction of a national funding formula Kent was unlikely to see any increases in HNF before 2022

It became necessary to formally review the system in operation in Kent. The scope of the review included targeting, effectiveness and impact of funded provision. It was launched in March 2017 and carried out in depth over 6 months.

The HNF review findings and proposals for change (DOCX, 2.0 MB) were presented firstly to the Schools Funding Forum for their input and then to schools in November 2017.

Nationally all schools are expected to use their best endeavours to make the first £6,000 of provision for any pupil with SEN. The SEN Code of practice sets out a graduated approach recognising that not all pupils will require this level of response. Whilst Kent criteria mirror those in the SEND Code of Practice 2015 used by most other authorities, the system of providing earlier funding is not widely replicated outside of Kent. In Kent we target funding without the need for an EHCP, where schools existing resources are augmented by a top up from the high needs budget.

The revised approach, from April 2018, has put in place top up funding for high needs which is need specific, graduated to reflect a response to greater levels of special educational need, the breadth of severity and in the most complex cases agreed for the duration of a Key Stage. Applications for top up funding are based on a school’s submission of costs for the actual provision in place. Once these actuals have been verified and the application is approved, the school receives confirmation of the most relevant need specific top up rate in that individual case.

The Needs Specific Top Up Funding Rates (PDF, 13.4 KB) were shared with all schools in the 6 December 2017 e-bulletin and published on Kelsi.

A detailed financial analysis of high needs funded provision during 2017 for each pupil funded at that point in time was used to arrive at the graduated rates for each need type. This assured that the rates reflected the actual position across Kent. A mapping exercise was undertaken to move each existing funding arrangement onto the suitable need type rate. In a few cases it has led to a small increase because the actual funding paid previously was below the suitable rate.

I hope you find this useful in considering both your contribution to the debate on options for changes to HNF we will be having next term, and to any submission you may make to the select committee inquiry.

Please do take the opportunity to respond to the call for evidence with your views, either directly to the Inquiry, or by sending comments, before 25 May to: Julie Ely, Head of SEN, at

More information about Kent’s approach to high needs is available:

Matt Dunkley CBE
Corporate Director
Children, Young People and Education