County Council consults on high needs changes

This story was published 27 September 2018

North Yorkshire County Council has agreed to consult with families, staff and schools on proposals to reshape the high needs budget for children and young people with special educational needs and disability.

Two sisters together

The council must ensure that the increasingly pressurised budget is spent in the most effective way possible.

“Supporting children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities is one of the most important jobs that we do,” said County Councillor Patrick Mulligan, North Yorkshire’s Executive Member for Education and Skills,

“We must always make sure that the needs of children and young people are met, and that we fulfil our statutory duties. But we must also explore every avenue to ensure that the resources we have are spent in the best way we can.”

The council has set out proposals for consultation which will change funding and provision for children and young people who have been excluded or who are at risk of exclusion; change funding for young people post-16 with special educational needs and change the way top-up funding for children with educational needs is allocated to schools.

The proposals will help to bring about the council’s recently adopted strategic plan for children and young people with special needs which will create enough places to meet needs, more localised provision and a more inclusive mainstream culture.

North Yorkshire is ambitious for its children and young people’s service and judged by Ofsted to be outstanding across the board.

The proposals agreed this week for consultation are therefore designed to fulfil the long-term ambitions of the plan while relieving some of the pressure on the high needs budget with a saving of almost £2m.

North Yorkshire is facing challenging times due to unprecedented and increasing demand on its high needs budget. There has been a 46% increase in the number of Education, Health and Care Plans since 2014 when the reform was introduced - an increase not funded by central Government.

The council, one of the lowest-funded authorities in England, has a High Needs budget of £44.2m and is currently projecting financial pressures in the order of £3.9m.  This increased expenditure is predicted to keep rising in the near future.

“Our cost pressures are very grave due to chronic Government high needs underfunding from the Department for Education,” said Cllr Mulligan.  “We are a responsible council that always tries to live within our budget but the Government has dealt us a poor hand that is not good enough for the children and young people of North Yorkshire. For this reason we continue to lobby Government to fully fund the high needs budget and have written to our MPs asking for their support.”

Note for editors:

The proposals for consultation:

  1. Top-up funding to schools for each child and young person with an Education and Health Care Plan will be allocated using clear principles through a banding system covering all areas of need. The system will require evidence of each child’s level of need and will be based on clear principles to result in a fairer distribution of funds – there are no savings attached to this change;
  1. Changing the way provision for secondary aged pupils who are excluded or at risk of permanent exclusion is commissioned and funded across the county. The pupil referral service and alternative provision providers will be funded for places for permanently excluded students; children and young people at risk of exclusion will be supported through inclusion initiatives funded by newly established local education partnerships – this will secure an overall saving of £1.3m to £1.5m;  

Bringing arrangements for provision and funding for young people with Education and Health Care Plans in post-16 education into line with statutory guidance. This means that schools with sixth forms will receive top-up funding for post-16 young people with education and health care plans for the statutory 16 hours of direct tuition these students, like all other students, receive, rather than for the current 25 hours, as this amounts to over-funding. This also means that post-19 students with care plans who attend personalised learning programmes, supported internships or independent learning providers will also be funded for the statutory 16 hours per week rather than the current 25. However, if a young person has been assessed as requiring a 25-hour programme this will still be provided, albeit by adult social care as well as education – this will secure savings of around £400,000.

The consultation survey on these proposals will be open from 5 October 2018 until 11 November 2018. The survey along with dates of information events will be available on the county council website  on 5 October.