Issue - meetings

High Needs

Meeting: 22/11/2023 - Gloucestershire Schools Forum (Item 6)

6 High Needs pdf icon PDF 289 KB

Minutes:

6.1      The Head of Education Strategy and Development presented a report which provided an update on the High Needs financial forecast for 2023/24, the current numbers of Education Health and Care Plans (EHCPs), plus the planning of specialist sufficiency and DfE – SEND and Alternative Provision Change reforms.

 

6.2      He reported that there had been a further rise of £1.56M in forecast spend.  The key variations to note were a £1.5M increase in spend on independent placements, increased pressure on Education Other Than At School (EOTAS) and special school bespoke packages, and small increases in secondary mainstream top-ups and specialist centres.

 

6.3      Members were informed that the local authority would be undertaking a detailed review of the forecast of independent placements and would update more fully at the January Schools Forum meeting when the position was clear.

 

6.4      In response to a question, the Head of Education Strategy and Development explained that independent special schools in the county were monitored by the local authority’s Specialist Commissioning Team, so they received regular reviews and the quality of provision was good.  However, the local authority was committed to making sure that there was sufficient capacity within the county’s special schools to reduce the reliance on the independent sector.  Nationally, independent special schools were a critical element of the infrastructure within the SEND system and there would always be a need for some independent schools within the system. 

 

6.5      In response to a question, it was agreed that the Forum would be provided with a breakdown of the number of children, by age range, attending independent special schools.

ACTION:Head of Education Strategy and Development.

 

6.6      The Head of Education Strategy and Development reported since the last Forum meeting in September the number of EHCPs supported in Gloucestershire had risen by 108 to 5,734 and 32.9 per 1000 0–24-year-olds.  The data showed that the significant majority of new plans were issued prior to the age of 10 and that the volume of EHCP’s in the system was peaking between the ages of 11 and 14.   Locally the rate of growth between January 2022 and January 2023 was 2.5 per 1000, compared to 2.6 nationally and 3.5 per 1000 for statistical neighbours.

 

6.7      It was reported that the local authority was working on the assumption that in the next few years the number of EHCPs at statutory school age would start to level off.  This would mean that the increased need for specialist placements should also start to settle. 

 

6.8      The Head of Education Strategy and Development reported that Gloucestershire’s High Needs block allocation was the 10th lowest per pupil in the country.  This clearly demonstrated that Gloucestershire did not receive an equitable level of High Needs funding.  The High Needs block deficit had grown by £29M over the past two financial years (£9M in 2022/23 and £15.2M in 23/24).  He pointed out that whilst the High Needs block was under significant pressure, school budgets were also under increasing pressure, which presented a challenging  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6