SEN funding

The local authority delegates 14% of the high needs block to schools to meet the needs of children with high level special educational needs.  Funding is agreed locally and is given to schools under three main headings.

Element 1: An amount of money for each pupil in the school

Schools get most of their funding based on the total number of pupils in the school.  Every pupil in a school attracts an amount of money.  The amount varies from one authority to another. There is usually more funding for each pupil in a secondary school than in a primary school.

This is the core budget for each school and it is used to make general provision for all pupils in the school including pupils with SEN.

Element 2: The school’s notional SEN budget

Every school receives an additional amount of money to help make special educational provision to meet all children’s special educational needs, irrespective of whether or not they have a Statement of SEN or an EHC Plan.  This is called the ‘notional SEN budget’.

Element 2 is called the notional SEN budget because no-one tells schools exactly how they should spend their money.  When funding is delegated to schools, they can spend it in the way they think is best, however, schools have a duty to identify, assess and make special educational provision for all children with SEN.

Schools must publish their budget, the SEN provision available and details of the staff, resources and strategy they utilize in a document called the school’s SEN Information Report which you can find using Norfolk SchoolFinder (look up a school’s name to get their profile and under Links you should find their SEND Offer link).

The amount in school notional SEN budgets is based on a formula which is agreed between schools and the local authority.  In Norfolk this notional SEN budget is made up of the following:

  • A basic per pupil entitlement of £60.89
  • A lump sum of £7,180
  • An amount based on Deprivation and Low cost High Incidence SEN (this will vary from school to school)

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 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 SEN that is ‘additional to or different from’ provision made for all children.

The local authority must make sure that the special educational provision specified in a statement or EHC Plan is made for the child.

For a child who is receiving SEN Support, the school must use its ‘best endeavours’ to make sure that special educational provision is made to meet that child or young person’s SEN.

Schools must also follow the SEN Code of Practice 2014 and must involve parents in decisions a about how their child’s needs are met.

Element 3: Top-up funding

If the school can show that a pupil with SEN needs more than £6,000 worth of special educational provision, it can ask for top-up funding to meet the cost of that provision.

Children and/or young people who might require this level of funding will have high and/or complex needs but they do not need a Statement or EHC Plan in order to get top-up funding.

In Norfolk this top-up funding has been delegated to Clusters (groups of schools who work together as a community of schools to ensure good transition, share expertise, purchase resources and training jointly, collaborate for sporting events etc).

There are 46 Cluster groups in Norfolk and funding is allocated based on the following proxy indicators:

  • 70% pupil numbers
  • 15% social deprivation
  • 15% prior attainment

Clusters are encouraged to use a needs led approach to top-up funding allocation.  For more information on cluster funding see SEN funding in schools and for more information on the needs led approach see Assess Plan Do Review.


Academies are funded through the Education Funding Agency, not through 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 the local authority in the same way.

Academies do get extra funding, but this is not related to SEN.  It is for services that Academies have to buy for themselves - services that are provided by the local authority for local authority schools.