Local authorities (LAs) receive high needs funding on an historical basis that may not reflect actual current need. This means that they have hugely different levels of resource with which to meet complex needs.
We would broadly agree with the proposed principles for the funding system. The ASCL Blueprint for a Self-Improving System calls for an education system in which all children and young people achieve, and in which all educational establishments are funded sufficiently, sustainably and equitably. Our persuasive argument will always be for a formula distribution that enables equality of opportunity for every child and young person, however we would urge the government to be mindful that the call for equity must never detract from the need for sufficiency. Funding for high needs must be sufficient if it is to effectively support inclusion across the whole system.
The current system for distribution seems to bear little relation to actual need and has resulted in three quarters of local authorities moving money out of the schools block to support provision for children and young people up to the age of 25. Considering that the high needs block has been established for less than five years we think that this gives a very clear indication that the demand for specialist provision must be sufficiently funded via a distribution system that can more accurately reflect local need.
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