Schools in Powys will receive funding directly to help teach children with Additional Learning Needs (ALN).
At a meeting of Powys County Council’s Cabinet on Tuesday, January 16 senior councillors received a report on three changes needed to the schools funding formula.
One proposal would see £3.7 million for children with ALN given directly for schools to spend and would be dependent on how many children a school has in each of the ALN categories.
Most of the funding is already within the formula distribution.
The proposal followed a review and consultation with schools between November 7 and December 1 last year.
Head of Education, Georgie Bevan explained: “We had significant amount of feedback from schools regarding ALN and families and the challenges they were facing particularly after the COVID-19 pandemic.
“What it means is that we will not be holding as much funding centrally, we will distribute it quicker to schools and give them more autonomy to meet the needs of their learners.
“It allows the money to be linked to the learner and their need.
“At the moment the process where they have to apply for that funding and go through a panel and all of those elements.”
Ms Bevan said that other local authorities had “removed” these barriers.
She added that this would better help schools plan for a child path as they progress with their education without the need to continually review every year.
The new approach would also allow departmental staff to be more “hands-on” helping in schools – rather than managing the funding process.
Ms Bevan said: “We will retain a very small amount of funding for children who move into county or have a life-changing incident, so that a safety net will be there.”
The second change would see more weighting in the formula to the schools in Powys in areas of deprivation.
Ms Bevan said: “We have pockets of significant deprivation and from the consultation feedback there was a positive acknowledgement why we had to fund these schools particularly more to help them with that.”
She added that there would be no extra funding, but a fairer distribution of money to “support our most vulnerable learners and their families.”
The final element that had been looked at is school facilities and that some schools had raised concern over the costs of having “working kitchens at their site.”
To address this issue the funding will be calculated on size of school building which takes out the cost of running working kitchen.
The funding top up will be based on kitchen size for schools with a working kitchen.
Ms Bevan added that this change would be rolled out over a two-year period.
Education portfolio holder, Liberal Democrat Cllr Pete Roberts said: “Our hope in making this change we will actually reduce the amount of bureaucracy in the system so that we focus resource on the most complex cases while reducing the overall paperwork burden on the headteachers, particularly in smaller schools.”
The changes had been scrutinised by members of the Learning and Skills scrutiny committee on Monday, January 15.
Committee members had recommended that schools ensure they have accurate pupil data and also asked for the Welsh language education immersion process known as “Trochi” across the whole of Powys to be considered in future formula changes.
Cllr Roberts hoped the scrutiny committee would look in depth at “Trochi” themselves and that this would provide the basis and a “strong” starting point for the Schools Formula Review group to look at whether a further tweak to the formula is needed next year.
Councillors unanimously agreed the proposal.