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Calculating SEND Supply & Demand at Local Authority Level

SEND Projections & Commissioning Strategy


Mainstream pupil place planning is completed extremely proficiently by the vast majority of Local Authorities. Net Capacity Assessments are also used widely to assess the sufficiency of the primary and secondary school estate.

Unfortunately, the planning of special school pupil places and the assessment of net capacity is not completed as robustly. 

Due to the complexity of the SEND sector, this cohort of pupils and the settings in which they are taught are frequently planned in a reactive rather than proactive manner. Often this results in reactive and inefficient capital investment in the estates to ensure that the pupils with the greatest need have a place. 

Due to there previously being no defined methodology to assess supply and demand within this area, specific Central Government capital and revenue allocations have not recently been made to deal with the increase in pupil numbers within this sector of education, which in 2017 is appearing to change.

1st Planner have spent the last 4.5 years working across both the mainstream and special school estate and very quickly recognised this deficiency. We have continually developed a suite of tools and processes that allow for the collection of data at both a school and pupil level. 

We then use this data in a variety of ways to complete regional and national comparisons, the planning of pupil numbers, assessment of net capacity and completion of commissioning strategies that support with the efficient utilisation of both capital and revenue budgets. 

Client Testimonial

Our High Level SEND profiles allow for every Local Authority to compare their SEND characteristics to regional and national trends, which are produced from school level data sourced from the DfE. These very quickly form the basis of commissioning strategies that challenge historic behaviours resulting in considerable savings being made.

Our BB104 Sufficiency Assessment tools allow us to establish the net capacity of all types of SEND settings taking pupil numbers, needs, severity, class sizes and curriculum delivery into account.

Through the collection of detailed pupil and class data from the schools over a period of 4 to 6 years we are able to produce very granular and detailed SEND projections. These are completed by phase, primary need, severity and by pre-agreed regions with a Local Authority. 

Detailed school commissioning packs are produced, which are used collaboratively between the schools and SEND Officers within the Local Authorities when agreeing future pupil numbers and capital investment requirements. 

 All of this information is collated into estate wide commissioning packs and utilised in Options Appraisal processes to identify the best allocation of both capital and revenue funding to satisfy the demands on the SEND estate.

These documents also form the basis of the High Level Needs Strategic review that the DfE are funding across the country. 

In order to complete the exercises efficiently 1st Planner have invested heavily in the Planit web-app that will allow every LA and school to utilise these systems, processes and tools in an efficient, sustainable and cost effective manner.

Case Study
City of Wolverhampton Council
1st Planner were commissioned to complete a detailed review of the SEND population and sufficiency of their existing special needs estate. 
Outcomes & Achievements
  • High level SEND Profile completed comparing CWC with Regional & National trends.

  • Exercise completed by areas within Local Authority, outside Local Authority and across the Independent sector.

  • Covering Special Schools, Resource Bases, Alternative Provision, PRU's, Mainstream and Further Education.

  • Completed at Pupil level by Primary Needs, Severity and Phase.

  • Sufficiency Analysis completed to establish School Net Capacity.

  • Projections completed to 2021 across all settings.

  • Identification of areas where considerable Capital and Revenue savings can be achieved.


  • Commissioning Strategy  developed based on review to realise savings.

"The partnership between the City of Wolverhampton Council and 1st Planner has successfully supported our evidenced based approach to school place planning. The series of bespoke products provided by 1st Planner offer a great starting point to both maximise the use of existing facilities and support the development of future plans."

(Tom Knott, School Organisation Manager, City of Wolverhampton Council)

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