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High needs Element 3 funding

The Learning and SEND team facilitate requests for Element 3 funding.

Funding enquiries can be sent to the funding mailbox: E3changes2024@norfolk.gov.uk

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What is Element 3 Funding?

Element 3 Funding is sometimes referred to as 'top-up' funding as it is in addition to the funding that is delegated directly to schools to support children and young people (C&YP) with SEND.

Each year approximately £39million is delegated to all Norfolk mainstream schools for SEND and this is from within the overall 'schools block' part of the Designated Schools Grant (DSG). It is delegated via a funding formula that is consistent across both academies and maintained mainstream schools.

In addition to this the LA uses a proportion of the High Needs Block (which is again part of the DSG) to 'top up' mainstream schools with Element 3 funding.

Historically Element 3 funding was only provided for C&YP with an EHCP but more recently we have enabled this to be accessed for C&YP at SEN Support. We don't want support to be contingent on having an EHCP and from the financial year 2023/24 we have accepted SEN Support requests for funding where appropriate.

Why are changes being made to Element 3 Funding?

The LA is required to keep all aspects of SEND provision under review to ensure that it is appropriate to meet C&YP needs, this applies to cash funding as well as sufficiency planning, for example determining how many SRBs are needed.

At this time it is even more important to keep all SEND provision and resources under review due to Norfolk being part of the DfE 'safety-valve' (SV) framework through our Local First Inclusion programme (LFI).

LA's who are part of SV have the highest level of budget pressure/overspend on their High Needs Block and are required to work with the DfE to return the High Needs Block to an in-year balanced budget. The SV plan agreed with DfE that led to our LFI programme from April 2023 is providing in excess of £100million joint DfE / NCC revenue funding and an additional £25million capital to supplement the council's £120million investment in SRBs and Special Schools.

The amount of funding agreed within the DfE/NCC SV plan for Element 3 increased to just over £23million for the FY2023/24 but the level of referrals led to higher spend above the budget. This led to an overspend of £12million which was itself 65% of the overall further overspend in the High Needs Block for FY23/24 (with the other 35% being a combination of increased costs in independent schools, increased costs following permanent exclusions and similar for medical needs).

We need to ensure that we can collectively live within our means and also ensure that this funding is being used for its intended purpose and is being applied fairly and transparently across the county.

These increased budgets need to be aligned to new ways of accessing Element 3 funding and we are bringing in initial changes from September 2024 ahead of further changes from September 2025.

What is the main change that is being made to Element 3 Funding?

  • To deploy the remaining annual allocations for 2024/25 now to all schools so that they have certainty about how much funding is available
  • To base these allocations on the bandings for awards agreed up to the January 24 submission deadline
  • To adjust the overall allocation per school to stay within the total budget of £35m
  • To ringfence funding for ESPs already agreed in order to avoid disrupting these specific provisions, which have already received rigorous scrutiny as part of the process to put them in place; SEND Advisers will be in contact with individual settings to discuss specific arrangements
  • To deploy Bridging Funding for children with the highest needs
    • Transitioning to reception, based upon feedback that funding is welcomed but needs to be focussed upon the most complex children at a higher rate - to enable planning for successful transitions, indicative allocations have been identified based upon intelligence held of those children with the highest needs at a minimum level of £4.5k and SEND Advisors will be in touch to discuss specific children
    • Transitioning to secondary school where it is anticipated they will require support during this period - allocations are based on those current year 6 children funded at a band 4b or 4c, proportionately adjusted in line with funding for existing cohorts in other year groups

The deployed funding will be available to be used flexibly by schools across their high SEND cohorts for the 2024/25 financial year (April 2024 to March 2025).

Whilst the basis of the funding allocation is linked to pupil awards previously agreed as per information attached to this message, schools are encouraged to use funding flexibly to ensure that they are able to meet the needs of all pupils with high SEND rather than fixing it to the specific children - this is to enable schools to support all children with the highest needs within the funding allocation and deploy the resources in the best way according to needs.

Why are you notifying schools now about these changes?

We have been in ongoing discussions with the DfE throughout spring term / summer term as part of our Local First Inclusion 'stock-take' and revisions to our overall plan to ensure that over a number of years we return the High Needs Block to an in-year balanced budget position and address the cumulative deficit.

We have had to combine this ongoing review / development work with 'business as usual' and the first half of the summer term would have been our first opportunity to update schools on possible changes to Element 3 Funding.

We apologise that we have not provided updates (apart from the May finance sheet summer term allocations confirmation) on Element 3 until this time. This is, in part, due to the discussions with DfE as stated above but is also due to the unprecedented referrals that we received at the point of the 31 January deadline.

The team that looks at Element 3 requests for funding deal with, on average, 300 referrals per term. However, in January we received a total of 1900 referrals from schools and the process to determine the level of funding needed has taken much longer than usual.

Are these changes in line with the SEND code of practice and the High Needs Funding guidance / regulations?

Yes. We have considered these changes in the context of the Children & Families Act 2014 and related SEND code of practice and the most recent High Needs Funding guidance. We are currently working closely with the DfE as part of their 'safety valve' process and within our Local First Inclusion programme and we have ensured that they are aware of the changes that we are implementing from September 2024.

Each local authority are required to work with schools, primarily through the Schools Forum, to ensure that funding for SEND is sufficient, both in terms of the amount delegated within the Schools Block and additional funding from the High Needs Block.

The changes that we are making for the two terms from September 2024 do not require full Fair Funding consultation, however, the changes that we are considering from April or September 2025 are likely to need Fair Funding consultation and this would take place as usual within the autumn term.

Do parents / carers need to be informed of these changes?

The LA will ensure that communication to the Parent Carer Forum (Family Voice Norfolk) is made so that they are aware of the changes and we will ensure that information to schools is mirrored in our revised content on the SEND Local Offer pages.

We do appreciate that discussions with individual families could be difficult if there are pressures on funding, however, the core discussion with families would always be based on identification of needs and the support that will be provided and how this will be reviewed. For example:

  • Conversations with parents around need and what provision will be in place for a C&YP to be successful
  • Working in collaborative ways with parents and co-produce solutions and offers that address the needs of their young people
  • Where a young person has needs that require funding this will continue as identified through the INDES and be for the school to determine the best way forward for that spend to be used - sometimes in conjunction with LA advice and guidance
  • We will continue to reflect on how advice regarding support for SEND is conveyed, for example to ensure there is consistency regarding those C&YP that require 1:1 support and where, for the majority, a combination of adult support and whole class/whole school training is beneficial

NEW: Why are Yr 11s only funded for 3/5ths of summer?

For the 23/24 academic year (including the summer term allocations), year 11 leavers have been incorporated into the same process for all children and young people who leave a setting where, once they are no longer on roll, E3 funding ceases as we would expect schools to have planned for the cessation of support to those young people.

The provisional funding allocations for autumn 24 and spring 25 allow for transition funding for new year 7s who have complex needs separately, and so the existing cohort remaining within the school setting from September will all have elements of funding where these have previously been awarded. 

The intention for the autumn and spring term is that funding will be used creatively by the school for all children with high needs, in conjunction with their element 2 funding, and so funding will not automatically end for leavers and starters during those terms.

NEW: How do I find out which children will receive Bridging Fund in the Autumn term (Yr R and 7)?

Information will be sent to schools over the coming days via the budget share tracker. Funding will be allocated once children's actual destinations have been confirmed in the Autumn term.  Information will include academic year 24/25 Yr R, Yr 7 and those Yr 2s leaving infant schools and joining junior and primary settings.

Children currently identified for Bridging Fund allocations will be those known to have complex needs who are already receiving support from NCC/health teams at the time of preparation.

Bridging Fund and a setting's contribution will allow schools time to get to know new children and for them to settle into their new school.

Please send any queries about information received to E3changes2024@norfolk.gov.uk

Extract below from letter / information pack to all schools w/c 17 June 2024:

The deployed funding will be available to be used flexibly by schools across their high needs SEND cohorts for the 2024/25 financial year (April 2024 to March 2025). Whilst the basis of the funding allocation is linked to pupil awards previously agreed, as per information attached to this message, schools are encouraged to use funding flexibly to ensure that they are able to meet the needs of all pupils with high needs SEND rather than fixing it to the specific children - this is to enable schools to support all children with the highest needs within the funding allocation and deploy the resources in the best way according to needs.

NEW: What do I do if my school wants to start an ESP?

Schools are encouraged to use available resource in ways that are creative, effective and efficient which may mean groupings that resemble enhanced SEND provisions. SEND Advisers are available to work with schools to share good practice from other Norfolk settings on how best to maximise resource.

If you would like to discuss the possibility of an ESP with us, please contact us via this dedicated mailbox: E3changes2024@norfolk.go.uk

NEW: How can I find out about funding for our school's existing ESP?

Settings who have worked with SEND Advisors over the last few months organising ESPs for the academic year 2024/25 will be contacted individually to a) confirm the amount of funds available for Autumn '24 and Spring '25 terms, and b) child-level and costings detail.

NEW: I submitted INDES post 31st January - will I receive funding for those requests?

No.  Schools will receive funding for autumn/spring terms ahead, as set out in individual school SEN Memorandum.  As detailed within the information to all schools w/c 17 June, the provisional allocations have been calculated based upon awards agreed for referrals prior to 31 January 24, adjusted to remain affordable for Norfolk as a whole, plus indicative allocations for bridging for pupils expected to join schools in September.  For these two terms, further awards for will not be made for new INDES submissions from 1 February onwards (except in very exceptional circumstances).

This is because, as set out in the full information pack sent to all schools w/c 17 June, we are not in a position with the resource available within Norfolk, to continue to award funding on an individual pupil basis and schools will need to use their allocated E2 and E3 funding to support the needs of CYP.

We will be using the autumn fair funding consultation process to set out options for Element 3 funding from April / September 2025 onwards.

Please see next FAQ for further information regarding contingency funding for unique circumstances.

NEW: Can I request funding in Autumn '24 and Spring '25 terms?  Will there be an opportunity to request funding for children that have a new EHCP?

We will not be setting up a process for schools to submit requests for E3 funding in autumn and spring term ahead in the way we have done previously, i.e. there will not be a published date to submit requests as we did for 31st January this year.  We have instead allocated the remaining E3 funding to schools as explained in other FAQ's and have also ensured funding is available via bridging funding and for ESPs.

We do hold a limited contingency budget which we anticipate being used if a family move into Norfolk and there would be no other way to accommodate their provision within current notional SEN funding or E3.  There may also be some unique circumstances where a child's needs develop significantly and unexpectedly, and to ensure their needs can be met, and we meet our collective duties within their EHCP, use of the contingency budget would be justified. 

The detail as to how the contingency budget can be accessed is being worked on and further information will follow in future FAQs.

New Q: How can a Multi-Academy Trust find out information about their schools' funding?

Multi-academy trusts now have had information shared via email that collates indicative and provisional allocations for Autumn '24 and Spring '25 for their settings.  This reflects the information shared with individual schools via the 'SEN Memo' section of the Budget Share Tracker website.

Norfolk Budget Share Tracker

Child level data available at a school level via the 'SEN Memo Allocation' section of the Budget Share Tracker website (password protected).  However, this is not available at an overall Trust level as we do not have a mechanism for sharing this personal data securely with Trusts currently.

New Q: How do I request new funding for AP?

Settings and schools can commission alternative provision for a child or young person, following their Assess, Plan, Do, Review cycle which includes collaborating with families and the child or young person should this be appropriate and all other solutions to support the child have been exhausted.

It is advised that schools contact an Inclusion Adviser to discuss the options that could support the young person without having to commission, often costly, off-site provision, and identify what potentially could be put in place sooner to mitigate against needs escalating unnecessarily.

Schools commissioning off-site provision will do so within their Element 2 and 3 funding envelopes they have been allocated 24/25 financial year.

New Q: What will funding be in summer term 2025 if I am a Trust or Maintained school?

This is currently being reviewed and is being shaped through  continued dialogue with education leaders involved in the E3 workshops and will inform the DSG funding consultation process that will take place with schools in the autumn 2024.

In the meantime, we are aware that schools and Trusts are seeking clarity on planning assumptions. 

For LA maintained schools, the schools' finance team are aware that it may take schools some time to plan for change to address any budget concerns that have arisen as a result of changes to Element 3 funding. It would be anticipated that, as part of revision two submission, schools will have accounted for these changes and planned for long term financial sustainability, i.e. prior to the Christmas break this autumn term. If you need immediate support for a more urgent review, then please do get in contact with the team in the meantime.

Academy trusts may need to revise budgets for the full academic year to fit with their financial year and that many are assuming that the principles of autumn and spring allocations will extend into the summer months for these purposes, whilst the collaborative work on the medium-and-longer-term arrangements continue.

New Q: How do I know how the calculation has been made for my school or Trust?

The diagram below illustrates the process that for identifying the total provisional and indicative allocations for both the Autumn 24 and Spring 25 terms that have been shared with schools.

Info has been published with the Budget Tracker Share (SEN Allocation Memo - password protected) that provides schools with the child level data utilised as part of the process.

Funding will be confirmed once a final decision has been made by NCC's Members and / or transitioning pupils have 'landed' in September. 

We will let schools know asap when this is available as we are undertaking final checks of the detail

(Identified complex new Yr R + Agreed ESPs 7/12ths) + (New Yr 7 (current 4b/4c) + Yr 2 infant school leavers x 7/12ths adjustments x Proportionate adjustments to fit within budget) + (Summer allocations - Phase transfer leavers and CYP in ESPs x 7/12th ad

New Q: What wellbeing support is available for school leaders?

School leadership is held in such high admiration and comes with great responsibility.  Rewarding as it is to lead an education that shapes the lives of our future generation, the current challenges of the sector can be stressful and protecting your well-being must be a top priority.  As part of the Norfolk Learning Collaborative we shall continue to accelerate our work that focuses upon the recruitment, retention and well-being of our education workforce.   

The Local Authority have worked work closely with the Norfolk School leader's association as this is one of their key priorities.  They have developed a number of resources to support school leaders, including Peer Support Sessions, and recommendations for coaching and supervision is available at www.norfolksla.org.uk/wellbeing.   The Local Authority also have a range of packages available to schools that support wellbeing: Individual wellbeing.   We want to ensure that together we have the support that headteachers within the system need and therefore we will be planning this together for the new academic year

Who can I talk to if I have any questions or concerns?

In addition to contact with advisers in the Inclusion & Opportunity Service who work with schools on INDES/IPSEF and related Element 3 Funding we will ensure that a range of colleagues are available to offer advice and guidance.

We appreciate, for example, that some schools may want to discuss the implications for your budget, including potential deficits. We are aware that meetings have taken place already for some schools who engage in the Revision 1 process. If you have not yet completed your Revision 1 meetings, then please consider the implications as part of this. If you have already completed your Revision 1 meetings, and need further advice and support, then please contact us via the dedicated mailbox and we will do our best to help.

If you do have any questions or concerns, or indeed want to work with us on the further work we are planning for Element 3 funding and other parts of our Local First Inclusion programme, please contact us via this dedicated mailbox: E3changes2024@norfolk.gov.uk

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