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SEND funding and guidance

This guide explains how the funding system works in all types of provision.

The School Funding Reforms implemented by the Department for Education from 1 April 2013 changed the way funding was allocated to schools and specialist providers to meet the needs of pupils with Special Educational Needs (SEN).

Early Years

SEN funding in early years settings consists of:
Universal - a universal amount of funding per hour per child which Early Years settings receive, whether a child has SEN or not. The expectation is that 10 per cent of the funding included in the universal allocation is used to meet the needs of children with either additional educational needs (AEN) or special educational needs (SEN).

SEN support - represents additional funding for 3 and 4 year olds, based on a deprivation supplement (the provision for 2 year olds is funded using a single base rate with no supplements).

Deprivation Supplement - is paid for each child based on their home postcode.

High needs: Top-up funding

A minority of children or young people with very complex needs require funding on top of universal and SEN support. This funding is allocated to individual children or young people and is determined by the level of need. Somerset operates a universal banding system which is used to agree an appropriate level of high needs funding.

Top up funding is paid to a setting where the child or young person is on roll and transfers with the child or young person when they move to a different setting, or it is shared across each setting if the child or young person attends more than one setting while taking up the 15 hours of funded entitlement. Where parents are eligible to claim for a further 15 hours of additional funded entitlement, top up funding would also be extended to cover the additional hours.

Other funding

Disability Access Funding (DAF) - this is a new fund which provides £615 each year for every eligible child or young person to support their access to the funded entitlement. This fund is for three and four-year olds who are taking up their free entitlement and are in receipt of Disability Living Allowance (DLA).

Please note, additional funding such as pupil premium may apply to some children or young people.

Mainstream schools (all types of schools including maintained, academies and free schools)

Universal - it is an amount of money for each pupil in the school known as Age Weighted Pupil funding (AWPU) or basic entitlement funding.

Every pupil in a school attracts an amount of money. The amount varies between schools and local authorities, for example there is usually more funding for each pupil in a secondary school than in a primary school.
Nationally the average universal funding is £4,000 for each pupil.

Also within universal funding there is a lump sum and some premises related allocations.

The universal funding forms the core budget for each school and it is used to make general provision for all pupils in the school, including those with SEN.

Please note, additional funding, such as pupil premium may apply to some children or young people.

SEN Support: The school's notional SEN budget.

Every school receives an additional amount of money to help meet children's or young people's special educational needs. This is called the 'notional SEN budget'.

SEN Support is called the notional SEN budget because this money is delegated to schools and the decision about how it is spent is taken by school governors and senior leadership teams. The amount of the notional SEN budgets is based on a number of proxy indicators which is agreed between schools and the local authority. The proxy indicators are based on eligibility to free school meals, a deprivation index which identifies the probability of a child living in a deprived household and low priority educational attainment using either the Foundation Stage or Key Stage 2 assessments, depending on the child's age.

Schools must publish their budget, the SEN provision available and details of the staff, resources and strategy they use in a document called the school's SEN Information.

The government has recommended that schools should use this notional SEN budget to pay for up to £6,000 worth of special educational provision to meet a child's SEN. Most children or young people with SEN need special educational provision that comes to less than £6,000. (Special educational provision is anything that is provided to meet a child's or young person's SEN that is 'additional to or different from' provision made for all children or young people).

Using universal and SEN support schools must do all they possibly can to meet the needs of pupils at SEN support. Schools must also follow the SEN Code of Practice 2014 and must involve parents in decisions about how their child's or young person's needs are met.

High needs - Top-up Funding
A minority of children and young people with very complex needs require funding additional to universal and SEN support. High needs top-up funding is allocated by the local authority for individual children and young people from a separate block of funding allocated to each local authority called the 'high needs block'.

Definition of a high needs pupil or student
Pupils and students who receive support from local authorities' high needs budgets include:

  • children aged 0 to 5 with SEN who the local authority decides to support from its high needs budget. Some of these children may have EHC plans  
  • pupils aged 5 to 18 (inclusive of students who turn 19 on or after 31 August in the academic year in which they study) with high levels of SEN in schools and academies, further education (FE) institutions, specialist post-16 institutions (SPIs) or other settings who receive top-up funding from the high needs budget. Most, but not all, of these pupils will have either statements of SEN or EHC plans 
  • those aged 19 to 25 in FE institutions and SPIs who have an EHC plan and require additional support costing over £6,000 (if aged 19 to 25 without an ECH plan, local authorities must not use their DSG to fund these students.) 
  • school-age pupils placed in alternative provision by local authorities or schools.

This funding is awarded individually and the amount depends on the pupil's level of assessed need. An EHC plan describes a pupil's needs, agreed outcomes and required provision and the top-up funding is directly linked to these. We operate a universal high needs banding system which is used to allocate the appropriate level of high needs funding.

Top up funding is paid to a school where the child or young person is on roll and transfers with the child or young person when they move to a different school.

Special schools and resource bases

There are two parts of funding allocated to specialist provision:
Universal and SEN support combined (£10,000) - commissioned place funding.

Special schools and resource bases are paid £10,000 for each place commissioned by the local authority. This funding pays for the core specialist education that pupils with high needs require.

High needs: top-up funding

Top up funding is allocated to individual children and young people according to the assessed need specified in their EHCP. We operate a universal high needs banding system which is used to allocate the appropriate level of high needs funding.

This funding provides the additional support needed for the pupils to achieve the outcomes set out in their EHC plan.

Top up funding is paid to a school where the child or young person is on roll and transfers with the child or young person when moving to a different school.

Please note, additional funding such as pupil premium may apply to some children.

Further education

Further education colleges are funded in a similar way to mainstream schools with the Education Skills and Funding Agency providing universal (learner based amount) and SEN support (additional learning support) and the local authority proving high needs funding. High needs funding is based on the assessed need described in the young person's Education, Health and Care plan.

Independent specialist schools and colleges
Where a local authority is unable to place a pupil within the maintained sector it may need to use independent providers. The High Needs budget will pay the fee to the provider, which will include all three elements described above, often at higher commercial rates.

Higher Education
Young people with SEND who go to university do not have an Education Health and Care Plan, and additional support required is funded by their Disabled Students Allowance.