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Changes to SEN Banding Descriptors and Top-up


​Over the course of September we have been holding training sessions with mainstream primary and secondary schools to share with them the new banding descriptors we will be using in Essex and to ask all schools to use these to band all of their children and young people with an EHCP by the end of November. 

We have asked schools to complete the banding of their current children and young people to enable us to do the financial modelling which will then determine the amount of funding which sits with each band. A number of questions have followed the training and not every school has attended a training session. 

It is vital that all schools understand what we are asking them to do and complete the banding by the end of November or we will not be able to accurately set the top up amounts which will be used for all children and young people in mainstream schools with an EHCP from September 2024.  The points below give you more detail.

You will shortly receive a template for you to record your banding decision for each child/young person with an EHCP.  You do not need to wait for the template to start the banding as this will simply be a list of your children/young people and is for recording purposes only.

  1. Key activities
  2. Key Resources
  3. Engagement in training and further opportunities
  4. Queries from IPs and Schools
  5. Moderation

1. Reminder of key activities of the SEN Top-Up project:


Revised Banding Framework.

Co-developed with schools/settings, health, the Essex Family Forum and associations (no funded levels attached at first).

Move to SEN funding arrangements that are effective, fair and transparent. The new model will be a 'needs-led' model.


Completed Spring 22Working group of schools/settings and ECC staff. Facilitated by Isos (external consultants).
Training To share the new approach, banding framework and the ask of schools to re-band all existing children and young people with an EHCP.

Special and Post 16 June -July 22


ECC and health staff Aug – Sept 22.


Mainstream - Sept 22.

Delivered by Ralph Holloway and Isos



Banding of all new EHCPs according to the new framework

(as well as the existing framework)


To give an evidence base for the financial modelling and to contribute to implementation of new approach.From Sept 22 (ongoing)SEND Ops / Resource Panel
Banding of all existing EHCPs according to the new framework

To give an evidence base for the financial modelling and to contribute to implementation of new approach.


Required by all settings as needed for the financial analysis.

By November 22Mainstream, Special, Post 16
Moderation of banding activity

To ensure consistency and quality of decisions.


NB No new evidence is required for the moderation exercise and you will only be asked to provide evidence on request at the point of moderation.

Special and Post 16: November 22 – Jan 23


Mainstream & EY:
November 23 - Jan 24
(may start earlier)

SEND Quadrant Teams


Financial Modelling

To set the financial values, check affordability, benchmark sectors / settings.


Set any transitional support/ protection.

Dec 22 – early 23


Further financial modelling for year 2:

Dec 23 – early 24


Finance and SEND S&I. Shared with Working Group and schools forum.
Go-Live of new Top-Up model including banding frameworkNew arrangements rolled out over 2 years to balance speed and capacity.

Special and Post 16: Sept 23

Mainstream & EY: Sept 24



2. Key resources

Attached are the key resources related to the Top-Up changes (please note these documents are not accessible, so if you need an accessible version please email

3. Engagement in training and further opportunities

  • The Sept dates have now all passed. We would like schools who have not accessed the training to listen to the recording and to indicate their preference for a condensed version of the training either before the start of the school day or after the school day.
  • There have been drop-in sessions available but these weren't taken up. We would like schools to indicate whether these would be helpful and we will put in further dates.
  • The Lead SENCOs have agreed to provide some support for schools that need it

4. Queries from IPs and Schools

  • We know some schools have reached out to their IPs for support with the banding exercise. It is not expected that IPs do any of the banding for their school but having attended the training they should feel confident to answer questions and direct schools to the resources.
  • It is not expected that IPs use the SPM for any formal moderation activity but some schools dedicate cluster meetings to a discussion re the banding.
  • Schools have been directed to the SEN Strategy inbox if they have any questions  .
  • MS Schools will very shortly receive the template they should use to share the re-banding results with us, special and post 16 are already doing this.​

5. Moderation

This will be organised centrally by SEND S&I but only after careful discussion with ASHE and EPHA given the volume of schools.​