Birmingham Banded Funding

In April 2013 the National School Funding Reforms were introduced, that led to changes to the funding of special schools by local authorities.
Two major funding streams were introduced.

  • 'Core' funding entails £10, 000 per place to support the provision of pupils.
  • 'Top Up’ funding is individual pupil led.

In 2013, working closely with special school head teachers, the Birmingham Banded Funding is the system that was developed by a working group for the allocation of the 'Top Up' element of the funding. Read more about the Birmingham Banded Funding 'Top Up' funding development.

The Banded Funding Model

The new Banded funding system is based on the classifications of SEN need as used in the Code of Practice school census data:

Classification of Need Code attached to classification
Speech, Language and Communication A
Cognition and Learning B
Social Emotional Mental Health C
Sensory D
Physical E

The detailed descriptors for each band are set out in the Birmingham Banded Funding descriptors document.

It is envisaged that the majority of pupils assessed at Band 1 will be having their needs met in mainstream primary provision through developed funding. No 'top up' funding is allocated to this Band. If a pupil is in specialist provision, the school will still secure the ‘core costs’ for the pupil.

Following appropriate assessment, all pupils will be placed on a Band according to their primary area of need. The banding decision is based on the actual needs of the student and the school provision in place to meet the needs. The assessment is based on a best fit model.

Once a pupil's primary need has been identified then they will be assessed on the level of complexity; there are 4 levels.

For example a pupil whose primary need is Cognition and Learning could be assessed as B1, B2, B3, and B4. Read more about the descriptors used for each classification of need in the Birmingham Banded Funding descriptors document.

SENAR principal officers carry out the initial assessment when children and young people are undergoing statutory assessment and special school provision has been agreed via the Final Education Health and Care Plan.

There are 3 processes through which children and young people are assessed and can be reassessed with agreement with SENAR using the banded funding descriptors.

  • Referral Entry to school
  • Interim or Annual Review of EHC (or Statement of SEN)
  • Annual (Autumn Term) Review including Moderation

In those very few circumstances where a pupil has at least two types of SEN which are equally severe and where both need and provision can be evidenced at the same band, only then would this be defined as ‘extraordinary banding’

As a result of the creation of the banded funding descriptors there is agreement between SENAR and the special school sector that during the autumn term each year an exercise is undertaken in schools to review all pupils with the exception of new starters since the previous summer term and now pupils subject to exceptional needs funding.

The assessment exercise will either confirm existing banding or will evidence that there are changes to be made. This process can give schools the opportunity to reflect on the progress made by children and young people as a result of effective provision and where appropriate to celebrate a move downward in banding. 

The assessment returns are then used to create the funding model for the individual bands leading to budget allocations at the start of the following financial year. 

The Working Group

The Working Group continues to operate with representation across the special school sector and local authority reps.
The purpose of the Group is to:

  • ensure equitable distribution of funding based upon agreed principles across all special schools
  • ensure that the Banded Funding Local Offer descriptors are maintained as current and up to date
  • organise and lead on the assessment and moderation process within an agreed annual cycle
  • review outcomes data from both the assessment and moderation process and where appropriate offer support and or challenge
  • use a Peer Support model with all the special schools as a mechanism for developmental work
  • consider and discuss financial models prior to presentation at Schools Forum and Special School Head Teachers’ meetings
  • feedback to meetings of Special School Head Teachers and using this forum to test out new ideas and proposed ways of working on a termly basis

Future Developments

A fifth edition of the Banded Funding descriptors document has recently been published (July 2017).  The documentation also provides information to special schools about the Autumn assessment and moderation process. The document will continue to be a work in progress informed with ongoing monitoring and evaluation alongside being responsive to national and local developments with SEND. This will reflect the need to evolve and develop the way in which the local authority works with the whole range of education providers.