Scrutiny of changes to ALN school funding

Funding for pupils with Additional Learning Needs (ALN) will be based on the child rather than the school where they are educated.

At a meeting of Powys County Council’s Learning and Skills scrutiny committee recently councillors, and independent members received a presentation from education consultant, Caroline Rees, on the changes.

At a cabinet meeting in December councillors had agreed the changes.

Integral to the change will be a pot of money kept centrally.

This would help schools who have pupils arriving during the school year who need support.

Councillo David Jones pointed out that a “pupil comes first” funding allocation was a big change in policy from one which concentrated on the council’s specialist education centres.

Committee Chairman Councillor Peter Roberts said: “At the moment the funding goes to the bricks and mortar.

“You’re now saying that the new model will be: that the funding is linked to the child.

“When the child moves to a new setting there will be a reassessment, not of their condition, but how they will be supported in the new setting.

“Because, there may be additional resources needed to support them at the same level as they would be in a specialist centre.”

ALN education consultation, Caroline Rees, said: “What a child will need in a specialist centre with eight pupils and two members of staff will be different from what they need in a class of 30.

“The chances are they will need more support when they go into a mainstream class, they do need to be reassessed.”

She explained that an ALN pupil put into a mainstream class without an assessment of needs, ”would not cope.”

To get the funding needed the school would apply for extra funding to the ALN panel which holds the reserve funding pot.

Mrs Rees added that at the moment there is a “lack of consistency” as ALN provision is a “postcode lottery” in Powys, depending on how far pupils live from a specialist centre.

Committee vice-chairman Angela Davies, who is a school governor at Rhayader Primary School said: “Given that this is just a rearrangement of how the money is distributed, and there is no proposal to increase that budget.

“Are we at risk of spreading the money too finely if we have more children coming into mainstream that are currently in special schools?”

Mrs Rees said: “It’s going to change, we are working with schools at the moment.

“The key thing we want to make sure is that wherever you live there is access to adequate provision.”

Mrs Rees said that there is funding this year to have three “satellite special schools” at a mainstream schools that can take up to six pupils.

She added that further review of special school funding would be taking place next year.

The funding changes will come in to effect from April 1.

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