Millions ‘owed’ to colleges for high-needs students

The Tes reports that general FE colleges have not received millions of pounds in funding for high-needs students already enrolled onto courses, it has emerged. Tes has learned that some colleges even decided to dip into their reserves to take on learners whom local authorities are refusing to fund.

High-needs funding applies in case of students whose provision costs £6,000 or more, and those aged 19 to 25 who have a learning difficulty assessment (LDA) or an Education Health and Care (EHC) plan.

Following the implementation of the Children and Families Act 2014, FE and sixth-form colleges and approved specialist post-16 institutions now have to cooperate with local authorities on arrangements for young people with SEND and to admit a young person if, following consultation with the institution, the institution is named in an EHC plan.

But colleges said delays to funding agreements and overall shortfalls often left them short-changed, with some missing out on hundreds of thousands of pounds. Some £696,000 in high-needs funding for the 2016-17 year was owed to East Kent and Canterbury colleges, according to principal Graham Razey.

Local authorities were increasingly assessing individual students’ needs to fall just short of £6,000, meaning the authority is not responsible for funding their education, Mr Razey claimed.

“Anyone who has not accessed high-needs support in the past cannot access that now, which feels counter-intuitive,” he said. “There are many young people who go through the system without being diagnosed. I will have to be at battle, going forward, to make sure my college gets that funding.”

Richard Watts, chair of the Local Government Association’s children and young people board, says councils are working hard to make sure children with SEND get support. “However, councils are involved in implementing a complex set of reforms, which have been established by government at a time of limited resources and rising demand.

Read more Millions ‘owed’ to colleges for high-needs students

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