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SEN funding for Children and Young people in mainstream Schools, Academies and Free Schools

The Local Authority 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 - money used to provide 2, 3, 4 year old early years nursery entitlements and 60% of Activity Led Funding in Early Years (ALFEY) funding to provide support for children with SEND in Private, Voluntary and Independent (PVI) nurseries
  • Schools block - money passed to schools to deliver mainstream education
  • High needs block - money used to support children with special educational needs that are taught in a mainstream school, support for children in alternative provision, special schools, post-16 learners and excluded pupils

Following local area funding desisions in collaboration with the local schools forum, the Education and Skills Funding Agency and Local Authority provide this funding at the same level to all mainstream maintained schools, academies and free schools within thier local area.

Element 1 - Basic per-pupil entitlement - Core funding

This money comes from the Schools block of the Designated Schools Grant (DGS).

Schools, academies and Free schools all get money for each pupil, based on actual pupil numbers. This is called the Age Weighted Pupil Unit (AWPU) and it is part of schools’ delegated funding. This is the amount of money that is allocated to schools for every pupil on roll. AWPU (Age Weighted Pupil Unit). This varies according to age, so primary schools get a different rate to secondary schools.

The national average AWPU funding per pupil is about £4,000, but Local Authorities (LAs) are permitted to choose different rates. The national schools block funding formulae states LAs must specify a primary AWPU of at least £2,000 and key stage 3 and 4, secondary AWPU values of at least £3,000.

In Torbay the AWPU per pupil was set for 2018-2019 for:

  • primary aged pupils (key stages 1 & 2) at £2806.18 
  • secondary aged pupils (key stage 3) at £3862.65
  • secondary aged pupils (key stage 4) at £4386.81

This funding goes directly to schools, academies and free schools and is used to run the school and to provide support for all pupils (including those with special educational needs - SEN) so that they can achieve good quality learning outcomes through Quality First Teaching (QFT).

Some of this money is for general SEN provision for example the cost of providing the Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO) and some other resources.

Element 2 - Notional SEN Budget

This money comes from the Schools block of the Designated Schools Grant (DGS).

Schools, academies and free schools all have an amount identified within their overall budget, called the notional SEN budget. This is an additional amount of money to the AWPU which is used for SEN provision that is ‘additional to and different from’ the provision made for all pupils. This money is provided directly to schools and academies alongside thier element 1 (AWPU) money. It is referred to as ‘notional’ because it is a suggested amount and is not ring-fenced.

The formula used in Torbay is 5% of the Age Weighted Pupil Unit (AWPU) + 50% of deprivation (Free School Meals (FSM) and Income Deprivation Affecting Children Index (IDACI)) budget +100% of the Low Attainment budget = Notional SEN Budget

Pupils with SEN have very varied needs therefore the amount of funding needed to meet these needs will be different for each pupil. The government has recommended schools use the notional SEN budget to pay for up to £6,000 worth of special educational provision to meet a child’s SEN, but the majority pupils at SEN support can have their needs met for much less than this. 

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

To find out how your child’s school use their SEN money, have a look at your child's schools SEN Information report.

A school must use its ‘best endeavours’ [do all it possibly can] to meet the needs of pupils at SEN support using element 1 and 2 funding. School provision must be based on an ‘assess, plan, do, review’ cycle implemented in partnership with the pupil and their family. Sometimes the provision may target a pupil but often shared provision is more preferable and meets the pupil’s needs best. For example group work is very important when developing language and social skills.

More information about the provision that schools are expected to make for pupils at SEN support can be found in the SEND Code of Practice 0-25 p 99 – 107.

Some pupils with SEND will also be eligible for additional funding from:

  • Pupil premium - a grant given by the government to schools in England to decrease the attainment gap for the most disadvantaged children, whether by income or by family upheaval.

Element 3 - Top-up funding - High Needs Block

This is provided from the high needs block element of the DSG, and is aimed mainly, though not exclusively, at pupils with Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans.

The government expects schools, academies and free schools to have spent at least £10,000 out of their core and notional budget before this funding can be accessed.

Top-up funding is individual pupil related funding from the Local Authority from national funding called the ‘high needs block’ for children and young people with an Education Health and Care (EHC) plan where the provision described is above the level of provision expected to be covered by Element 2.  

This funding is awarded on an individual basis and the amount depends on the pupil’s level and complexity of need. An EHC plan describes a pupil’s needs, agreed outcomes and required provision and the top-up funding is directly linked to these and reviewed alongside the Annual Review of the child's EHC plan.

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 
    • Combe Pafford special school for pupils aged between 7-16 with Moderate Learning Difficulties (MLD)
    • Chesnut at Mayfield special school for pupils aged between 7-11 with Socal, Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH) difficulties
    • Mayfield special school for pupils aged between 2-16 with Severe Learning Difficulties (SLD) or Multiple and Profound Learning Difficulties (MPLD)
    • Brunel Special Academy for pupils aged between 11-16 with Socal, Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH) difficulties
    • STEPS, PCSA for pupils aged between 11-14 with Socal, Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH) difficulties relating to anxiety
  • Enhanced Provisions within mainstream schools and academies 
    • Barton Speech and Language Unit for pupils aged between 5-7 with Speech Lamguage and Communication Needs (SLCN) 
    • Preston Autistic Spectrum Condition (ASC) enhanced provision for pupils aged between 5-11 with a diagnosed Autistic Spectrum Condition (ASC)
    • St Margarets Hearing Impairment enhanced provision for pupils aged between 5-8 with Speech Lamguage and Communication Needs (SLCN) 
    • Brixham College Autistic Spectrum Condition (ASC) enhanced provision for pupils aged between 11-16 with a diagnosed Autistic Spectrum Condition (ASC)
    • Spires Autistic Spectrum Condition (ASC) enhanced provision for pupils aged between 11-16 with a diagnosed Autistic Spectrum Condition (ASC)
    • Spires Hearing Impairment enhanced provision for pupils aged between 11-16 with Hearing impairments (HI)
  • Medical Tuition Service for pupils aged between 5-16 who are in hospital or unable to attend school due to their medical condition
  • Provision for excluded pupils from the 6th day of a permenant exclusion until a new school place is allocated
  • Places in alternative provision and independent schools 
  • Central services such as:
    • Educational Phychology & Advisory Teacher Service (statutory work to include Hearing  Impairment (HI) Advisory service)
    • 40% of Activity Led Funding in Early Years (ALFEY) funding to provide support for children with SEND in Private, Voluntary and Independent (PVI) nurseries
    • High Needs Funding (HNF) in post-16 education