The replacement of Hertfordshire’s Exceptional Needs Funding (ENF) System Friday 24th April 2020

24th April 20

HPCI is aware that the online posting of a letter sent to schools by Hertfordshire County Council (HCC) about the changes to ENF has caused concern to some parent carers. This email aims to explain some of the background to this change and reassure parents that HPCI view the changes as a positive move.   ENF is a Hertfordshire only system for distributing top up funding for children with complex/high levels of special educational needs (SEN) to mainstream schools.   It was set up before the SEND Reforms were introduced in 2014. For the past 5 years HPCI has frequently raised concerns about how well ENF worked and although a review happened in 2017 it did not address the main concerns. A second review has been carried out in the last year and you can read a summary of that review here: ENF Review Summary It involved parent reps from HPCI, schools and the Local Authority and has led to a new system being introduced from 1st September 2020. It is called Top Up (High Needs) Funding. In our view this will lead to improvements for children, parent carers and schools. HPCI concerns about ENF were:

  • it did not fit with the guidance from the Department for Education around SEN funding
  • it did not enable the local authority to meet its legal obligations to make the provision specified in children’s Education Health and Care Plans (EHCPs)
  • it was overly complex and bureaucratic and decision-making lacked consistency and transparency
  • it created a barrier to inclusion of children with complex SEN in mainstream schools
  • it excluded parents from the process and lacked accountability about how the money was spent to improve the children’s outcomes

If you want to read more about HPCI’s concerns then you can do so via our position statement on ENF (and other topics) on our website:

The new Top Up (High Needs) Funding system

It will start from 1st September 2020 and the work to get things ready is continuing despite Covid 19.

  • Funding – the review highlighted that compared with similar local authorities HCC spent significantly less of its High Needs Block funding on supporting children with complex needs in mainstream education. Around £4 million pounds of extra funding has been found to implement the new system for this financial year. A further increase in funds is being identified for future financial years as the data shows that the number of children with high needs in mainstream will continue to rise. The new system will give more high needs funding to mainstream nurseries and schools to enable them to directly support the children and young people.
  • EHCP – If a pupil’s needs are identified by an EHCP, this will also be used to help identify the resources they need. There will be no need for a separate application to identify what funding is needed for the nursery or school to be able to deliver the specified provision in the Plan. This will free a large number of professionals from the additional work that applying for ENF took leaving them to focus on their main job.
  • No EHCP – There will be a local system that will use an online tool to identify a pupil’s needs. The online tool will enable their needs to be ‘banded’. The ‘band’ their needs fall into will determine the amount of funding given to the nursery or school to support them. Again, it is anticipated that this will be more efficient than the current ENF system.

If your child is in a mainstream school and you want to find out what that will mean for them then there is further information on the SEND Local Offer that has been written with parent reps from HPCI. Changes to ENF  

HPCI parent reps will continue to be involved with this work as it progresses including reviewing how it is working and identifying any further changes that might need to be made. We will of course ask parent carers for their views as we have done on this subject and others before.

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