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SEN funding for schools

We receive money from central government each year to fund schools. This is called the Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG). The DSG is split into four parts or 'blocks':

  • Early years block
  • Schools block 
  • High needs block 
  • Central Schools Services block

Early years block

Children who are not yet statutory school age and are attending an Ofsted registered early years setting may be eligible for SEND funding. This is payable at different rates depending on the child's age and level of need. Early years settings apply for SEND funding to ensure they can meet your child's need.

Early Years settings can access further guidance and support from the Early Years Advisory team. To find out more about accessing early years provision for your child please contact the Family Information Service.

Children are entitled to take up a full-time school place the September after their fourth birthday. Children are statutory school age the term after their fifth birthday.

Schools block

The schools block is the main budget for mainstream schools. The schools block is made up of:

  • Element 1 - per pupil funding. This is used by individual schools to support all pupils. It includes those who have special educational needs
  • Element 2 - SEN funding. This is delegated to schools for them to spend directly on making special educational provision. Currently, the total amount of Element 2 SEN funding, is approximately £39million per year.

The SEN funding for each school is calculated using a formula. This formula uses the following SEN 'proxy indicators':

  • Pupil numbers
  • Prior attainment
  • Social deprivation
  • Fixed sum

Each year the school gets a 'memo' which sets out how much SEN money they will get. Find out how much money your child's school gets for SEN (opens new window).

Schools should use their SEN funding to meet the needs of the cohort of children and young people with SEND in their setting.

Things that a school may want to consider when allocating funding on resources:

  • Expertise within the school to plan for any training needed
  • Curriculum pathways
  • Specialist advice needed
  • Specific SEND resources
  • Provision specified in Education Health Care Plans
  • Evidence-based interventions

Find out how your child's school use their SEN money. Search and read their SEN Information Report.

High needs block: top-up funding

Schools and academies should have sufficient funding in their delegated SEN funding budget to enable them to support pupils' SEND where required. Mainstream schools are expected to contribute towards the cost of special educational provision up to the high needs cost threshold set by the regulations (currently £6,000 per-pupil per annum). Where individual pupils require additional support that costs more than £6,000, the extra costs should be met by requesting Element 3 funding for the individual pupil. Currently the total amount of Element 3 funding is £35 million per year. 

Schools request Element 3 funding directly from the Learning and SEND team by submitting an INDES (Identification of Needs Descriptors in Educational Settings) and an IPSEF (Inclusion and Provision self-evaluation framework.) Information on INDES and IPSEF can be found online.

Detailed guidance on the process is available on the Element 3 funding webpage.

Element 3 funding rates should reflect the needs of the individual, and the cost of meeting those needs: High Needs Operational Guidance, Department for Education.

Schools are encouraged to use a needs-led approach to Element 3 funding allocation. Read more information on the needs led approach. 

There is a dedicated mailbox for funding queries. Please contact:

Local authority schools' SEN funding

 The rest of the high needs block is used by us to fund other types of SEN support and provision. Currently the total funding in the high needs block is approximately £145million per year. The money is spent on many different types of support. This includes:

  • State funded special schools 
  • Specialist resource bases (SRBs) 
  • Places in alternative provision and independent schools 
  • Central services such as:
    • Access Through Technology 
    • Speech and language therapy 
    • Virtual School for sensory support 
    • SEN Support in early years 
    • High Needs Funding (HNF) in post-16 education

Academies' SEN funding

Academies are funded through the Education Funding Agency, not through us (the local authority).

Academies get the same level of funding for each child and young person, as local authority schools in the same area. Their notional SEN budget is worked out in the same way. They can access Element 3 funding in the same way. Academies do get extra funding, but this is not related to SEN. This extra funding is for services that academies have to buy for themselves. These are services that are provided by us for local authority schools.

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