Agenda item

Rotherham's Notional SEN Additional Funding Eligibility Criteria - Mainstream Schools and Academies (Deferred from previous meeting)


Neil Hardwick to report.


Recommendation:-  To receive the report and note how Notional SEN budgets are calculated and when it might be appropriate to seek additional resources and how.


Further to Minute No. 84 of the previous meeting held on 18th November, 2022 consideration was given to the report presented by Neil Hardwick, Head of Schools Finance, which highlighted the process schools should follow when requesting additional funding.


In response to queries about the percentage splits, the mismatch between notional SEN budget and actual costs of SEN support and how this linked to exclusions, it was noted that Rotherham’s schools’ notional SEN budget was calculated and passported out from a separate fund as:-


·             a small part of the basic entitlement funding; 5%.

·             a larger part of deprivation funding, reflecting the higher prevalence of lower-level SEN amongst disadvantaged pupils 50%, and

·             the majority or whole of the low prior attainment factor funding, as this is the best proxy we currently have for pupils with low-cost, high-incidence SEN 100%.


It was shown as a single figure and denoted the element of a school budget share which was notionally intended to support both existing SEN pupils with Low Cost / High Incidence         SEN, and the first £6,000 of support for high-cost pupils.


It is important to note that the notional SEN budget was not intended to provide £6,000 for every pupil with SEN, as most such pupils’ support would cost less than that. Nor was the notional SEN budget intended to provide a specific amount per pupil for those with lower additional support costs, even though the Local Authority may make reasonable assumptions about what those costs might be for the purpose of ensuring that their schools’ notional SEN budget calculation was realistic. 


To assist schools with the calculation, the service have notionally assumed that approximately:-


·              25% of the notional SEN will be used to support low cost / high incidence SEN

·              75% of the notional SEN budget will be used to support the first £6,000 of high cost pupils.


It was then estimated that 75% of the notional figure should meet the ‘high cost’ pupil numbers, at a rate of £6,000 per pupil.


In some cases, however, a mismatch between the notional SEN budget and actual costs of SEN support may be because the school had a disproportionate number of ‘high cost’ pupils with SEN in relation to its size.


In this instance the Local Authority could provide targeted funding from its High Needs budget to schools in such exceptional circumstances. This would be where the ‘high cost’ pupils were higher than the number outlined in the notional assumptions.


Forum Members acknowledged the struggles some schools were facing with pupils with high needs and the risks of potential exclusions and it was suggested that these issues be considered in more detail at the High Needs Sub-Group.


It was also noted that the long awaited Green Paper was in response to the widespread recognition that the system was failing to deliver for children, young people and their families and that a national SEND delivery plan would be published setting out the Government’s response to the consultation and how the proposals would be implemented.


Forum Members heard about the significant increase in permanent exclusions including across the primary sector which was intrinsically linked to the high demand for SEMH support.


The Forum agreed to re-look at this issue in April and asked for this to be included as an agenda item.


Agreed:-  (1)  That how Notional SEN budgets are calculated, when it might be appropriate to seek additional resources and how, be received and noted.


(2)  That this issue be included as an item on the agenda for the April, 2023 meeting to facilitate further information.

Supporting documents: