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A message from Matt Dunkley CBE:

6 December 2017 weekly update

6 December 2017

This week, Matt outlines the new Needs Specific Top Up Funding rates for mainstream schools which will be introduced from 1 April 2018 and also provides a summary of the recently held Kent Association of Headteachers Annual Conference.

Needs Specific Top Up Funding Rates from 1 April 2018

The Schools’ Funding Forum met last Friday 1 December and discussed a number of important matters affecting school funding for the 2018-19 financial year. This included the introduction of the National Funding Formula within Kent and as part of this item they considered the schools’ responses to our recent consultation which closed on 26 November. In total we received 177 responses and I would like to thank everyone who took the time to provide us with their views on this important matter. We are planning to provide a high level update to schools shortly once decisions have been taken by the Council.

It was my first time attending the forum in Kent, and I was very impressed by the quality of debate and the commitment of members with sometimes conflicting school interests to reach compromise where that was necessary in the interests of all Kent children.

Another important topic discussed at the Forum meeting was in relation to the funding which KCC provides to Kent mainstream schools in order to put in place provision for those children and young people whose complex and significant difficulties call for specialist support alongside schools normally available resources.

The number of children and young people eligible for high needs support has increased and it is necessary to make changes to the way in which the funding is distributed. A new approach, from 1 April 2018, will continue to target an annual budget of £23m for individual pupils, with and without Education Health and Care Plans, through need specific top up funding rates to mainstream schools. These new graduated rates have now been agreed and we have published them on Kelsi alongside details of the new process. View the Needs Specific Top Up Funding Rates from 1 April 2018 document here (PDF, 13.4 KB).

These top up funding rates have been based on the current value and number of High Needs top up payments made to schools whilst also considering overall affordability within the context of a capped High Needs budget. A separate individual application process will remain for the pupils with the most severe and complex needs. We estimate this part of the process will apply to approximately 40 High Needs pupils.

We are now in the process of mapping all existing High Needs pupils so that we can write to all schools to inform them of their new High Needs top up funding from 1 April 2018. It is our intention to send these communications to all relevant schools before the end of this term.

Kent Association of Headteachers Conference 2017

‘Changing Times, New Opportunities’, the 2017 conference of the Kent Association of Headteachers, took place on 23 November, 2017. Delegates filled the Ashford International Hotel for an event judged to be the most successful KAH annual conference so far.

In a balanced programme, the main speakers were all stimulating and thought-provoking. Stephen Tierney reflected on what he had learnt from his many years of school leadership; Lucy Adams drew on her experience as HR Director of the BBC to offer advice on how to lead people in times of change; Sir David Carter described the evolving national approaches to school improvement. Michael Rosen, the writer and broadcaster, brought the conference to a memorable end. Earlier, delegates had attended a wide range of high-quality workshops.

KAH conferences have a tradition of showcasing the quality of music in Primary and Secondary schools, this year maintained by the choir of the Coastal Alliance Co-operative Trust and a band from Homewood School and Sixth Form Centre. For the first time, however, the event also included a performance by the Kent Choir, comprised of pupils from Kent’s Special Schools. This was unforgettable for everyone who was present.

A selection of images from the event can be viewed on the Kent of Association of Headteachers’ new website

The new website also has a whole section dedicated to the education leadership strategy for Kent Leaders, which has been developed with Kent County Council and other leading educational organisations in the county. You can find out more about how the leadership strategy is providing support and inspiration to schools; training and development; and capacity building for system leadership.

KAH is dedicated to championing school-led improvement across Kent. The Association is keen to promote school collaborations and other examples of best practice - so that all schools across Kent can benefit from the learning of others. If you have a success story you would like to share, please complete the feedback section on the website or email us at

Matt Dunkley CBE
Corporate Director
Children, Young People and Education