In October 2017 we introduced a new way to fund schools to help children and young people with complex SEND and that have an EHC plan.

How schools are funded for all children with SEND

All schools get a set SEN budget as part of the school’s total budget. The SEN budget is there to fund the cost of provision for children in the school who have additional needs.

If a child has SEND and they need more help, there's now banded funding available. This means more funding on top of what the school already receives. These pupils will almost always have an EHC plan.

EHC plan banding

Additional funding used to mean the number of hours each week that a child had access to a teaching assistant (TA).

Now instead of TA hours, the funding is based on bands that describe the levels of increasing need of the child and the type of the support they need.

A group of professionals looks at the banding document and agrees which band matches the child's needs best. This team includes:

  • the school
  • the local authority
  • any specialist professionals who know the child

This could happen when the EHC plan is first written, or at the review for your EHC plan.

Why we changed to a banding system for EHC plans

A banding system means that schools now have more flexibility. Your child's school can work with you and use funding to try different approaches to meet your child's needs.

The EHC plan won’t specify TA hours, so the school could include:

  • different group activities
  • specialist support
  • training
  • or keep the one-to-one support with a TA

This is called an ‘outcomes’ approach as the description of support is adjusted to suit the individual child’s outcomes on the EHC plan. This means that the school doesn’t need to wait for the annual review. They can meet with you at any time in the year and try different strategies and approaches.

Changes to TA hours in EHC plans

Banded funding gives schools more flexibility to try other ways to support a child or young person. This is because it provides details of specific interventions rather than just providing a TA.

Research shows that some pupils with TA support alone don't make as much progress as they should. They can be less independent than other children as they come to rely on adult support.

The school will need to consider each individual child and make sure that what they provide meets the desired outcomes in the EHC plan. That could mean a change from specific TA support to other types of intervention, or it may mean that the support of a one-to-one TA is still necessary.

When the changes will happen

The changes are happening gradually, usually at the annual review meeting, so you may not notice any change for a while. The annual review meeting is where you can be part of the discussions about your child's banding. You can think carefully about the right description of provision for your child. 

The school and local authority use a banding criteria document as part of the evidence to help them apply the appropriate level of funding for your child's needs.

How banding is described in the EHC plan

We have a duty to be specific and detailed about the type of support and help each child will receive. In the EHC plan you'll see the description of the type of support your child will get and the band. The school has a duty to discuss this with you so you are clear about what your child is getting, both in terms of support and the expected outcomes.

Other ways schools can access specialist support and advice

Specialist services

Schools can apply for support from the Dorset Council specialist services

Outreach Service

There's an advisory service for complex needs for schools delivered by the 5 Dorset Special Schools. Speak to your school SENCO to find out more about these services.

Dorset children attending school outside Dorset

The local authority where the school is based decides how much money the school receives.

For example, if your child goes to a school in Somerset but lives in Dorset, then Somerset decides how the school is paid the additional high needs funds. Dorset County Council then pays the same amount, as the local authority responsible for the child.