Funding & Financial Benchmarking

How we are funded

Special schools are funded differently than mainstream schools, and so it is not straightforward to make comparisons of cost and value for money when comparing the two.

In terms of SEND funding, mainstream schools receive and amount per pupil/student, a lump sum (‘element 2’) for more commonly occurring (‘high frequency’) SEN and individual ‘top-up’ for students with an EHC plan.

All special schools are funded for an agreed number of places at £10,000 per year and then also receive a ‘top-up’ for each student while they are on roll at the school. The school receives the same level of top-up for each student unless there is an agreed significant temporary need for additional provision, or there is a medical condition, physical or other disability that requires additional long-term support.

In mainstream schools, funding from the EHC Plan often provides support that is additional or different than for the majority of students, typically by intervention or targeted adult support in class. In special schools, the majority of funding received support the universal provision for all students, which will be adaptive to their particular communication & interaction, cognition & learning, SEMH needs, physical and medical needs. Targeted and specialised interventions and provision are generally intended to be time-limited, though they make be cyclical. Some students have needs and/or disabilities that may require longer-term additional support.

The overall financial picture 2022-23

School income per student has not increased since the introduction of the current funding system 8 or so years ago. Inflation has reduced how much our income will pay for, despite an increase in student numbers. School expenditure was greater than its income in 2021-22 and is budgeted to be greater than income again in 2022-23 (an in-year deficit for two consecutive years).  This means that school financial reserves are shrinking. As a result, one of the priorities in our School Development Plan remains ‘a sustainable financial base, strengthening the link between curriculum and financial planning’ and we are in regular discussion with the LA on this.

Because the Local Authority is also in deficit in its High Needs Funding Block it needs to carefully benchmark any area of expenditure before increasing it, and so is conducting an external review of special school funding. In the meantime, it has agreed to provide the minimum funding and the additional funding arising from the Chancellor’s autumn statement guarantee to Hackney special schools from April 2023.

Pay and Conditions

We are a maintained school, so staff pay and conditions follow local authority guidelines and policies for both teachers and support staff. Alongside this, we are committed to the professional development of all our staff to meet the needs of the school. This means that all staff are supported to progress on their respective pay scales and to be well-equipped to apply for promotion as posts become available or new posts are developed. This is a central strategy within our Staff Wellbeing whole-school priority.

For example,

  • we support and guide teachers to reach the standards necessary to move from the main to the upper pay range
  • we develop support staff roles that impact on the quality of education provided (e.g. Enhanced Teaching Assistants, Intervention TAs) or the efficiency of school systems (Assistant Business manager, Welfare & Safeguarding Officer)

Impact on staff costings

Effective and experienced staff are clearly more expensive than an approach where there is a ‘churn’ of less experienced staff being replaced on a regular basis. Unsurprisingly, this means that our average teacher cost is in the highest 10% of similar schools. However, it is our view that the quality of education is both directly and indirectly improved by effective staff whose wellbeing and professional development is being taken into consideration. The high quality of education provided has been noted in successive Ofsted inspections since 2005.

School Financial Value Standards and Schools Financial Benchmarking

 School Development Plan priority 5 includes ‘Improved efficiency and effectiveness’, which is monitored and evaluated by Governors’ Resources Committee.

The School Business Manager annually compares school expenditure and staffing ratios with the benchmarks of the School Financial Value Standards, which feeds into our dashboard on the Schools Financial Benchmarking website.

As noted above, the school financial benchmarking site places us in in the top 10% of similar schools for teacher average salaries, but broadly in line with similar schools (39% of expenditure).

The school’s spending rating is shown as broadly similar with similar schools in all areas of the dashboard

  •          Teaching staff
  •          Supply staff
  •          Education support staff
  •          Admin. and clerical staff
  •          Other staff costs
  •          Premises costs
  •          Educational supplies
  •          Energy

Number of school employees with a gross annual salary of £120-£130,000: 1

Risk and actions to address them

The greatest area of risk relates to the in-year deficits noted in ‘the overall financial picture’ and amplified by the current high levels of inflation. This is being addressed as a priority by school leaders and governors through a series of discussions with the local authority and other local special schools, supported by an independent in-depth review of income and expenditure.