Top Up Funding Bristol Shows Send Pupils Not Receiving Money

  • Significant numbers of Bristol children and young people failing to receive Top Up funding prior to receiving an EHCP
  • Top Up funding in Bristol is ‘not sustainable’
  • Cabinet papers this week showed a predicted shortfall of £13.4m in the High Needs Block by end of March 2022

Bristol pupils are failing to receive Top Up funding prior to obtaining an EHCP, a Freedom of Information Request (FOI) made to Bristol City Council revealed this week.

The information was given to Hayley Odda, who queried how many children were issued with EHCPs and how many had been in receipt of Top Up funding before this.

The data returned in the request showed that in the academic year 2019/20, 726 Education Health Care Plans (EHCP) were issued to Bristol children and young people, but only 55.4 per cent had been in receipt of Top Up funding prior to this. This left nearly half of children with high needs and requiring specialist interventions without benefit of additionally funded support with their education.

In the academic year 2018/19, 297 EHCPs were finalised, again with a significant number of children and young people not receiving Top Up funding prior to receiving a finalised EHCP.

Schools can apply to Local Authorities for Top Up funding for pupils with complex needs or requiring specialist help to enable them to access and progress in education.

EHCPS are for children and young people up to the age of 25 who need more support than is available through their school’s special education needs support.

The numbers of pupils in the data not in receipt of Top Up funding prior to receiving an EHCP suggests that pupils needing the extra funding are either not being awarded it, or schools are not making applications for the additional money.

In September 2020, the spend on Top Up funding in Bristol was ‘not sustainable’ according to Bristol City Council finance officer Graham Booth, in an update to Bristol Schools Forum.

He said at the time: ‘Most of this pressure is in top ups and I think it’s a reflection of the increased demand and a lot of that increased demand is as a result of the really good work that the SEN teams are doing on getting rid of the backlog and pushing more EHCPs through.’

Top Up funding allocations come from the High Needs Block, which Cabinet heard this week is likely to be in deficit by £13.4m by the end of March 2022.

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