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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 three parts or ‘blocks’:

  • Early years block
  • Schools block 
  • High needs block 

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 for schools to spend directly on making special educational provision. This year the total budget for SEN funding, is approximately £36m

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.

Schools should use their SEN funding to pay for things like:

  • Specialist training/equipment
  • Securing external professional advice and guidance
  • Additional staffing for pupils who require elements of their support within small groups or 1:1

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, up to the mandatory cost threshold of £6,000 per pupil. Where individual pupils require additional support that costs more than £6,000, the excess should be met by top-up funding associated with the individual pupil. Top-up funding rates should reflect the needs of the individual, and the cost of meeting those needs (High Needs Operational Guidance, Department for Education).

Changes to how the high needs block of funding is allocated from April 2018

Since April 2018, we have started to change the way the high needs block of funding is allocated.

Between April and September 2018, clusters of schools continued to have high needs ‘top-up’ funding allocated to them. Each cluster could decide how much ‘top-up’ funding should be allocated to individual schools, to support individual pupils.

From September 2018, schools can no longer request ‘top-up’ funding from their cluster. Schools are now required to request ‘top-up’ funding direct from the Virtual School Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (VS SEND).

On receipt of a request for ‘top-up’ funding, a panel of moderators (moderators are school SENDCOs/Heads and Local Authority SEND specialists) will consider:

  • How the delegated SEN funding has already been used 
  • Evidence of its effectiveness and impact

before making its decision. This process is facilitated by the VS SEND.

Schools are encouraged to use a need-led approach to top-up funding allocation. Read more information on the needs led approach

Please email any funding queries to

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. The total funding in the high needs block is approximately £80.9m. 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 get top-up funding from us 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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