All mainstream schools have money for special educational needs support and resources. Schools can decide how to spend this money. This is called delegated funding. This part of the school’s income is sometimes called the notional SEN budget.
Academies are funded through the Education Funding Agency, not through the local authority. Academies get the same level of funding for each pupil 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.
Funding for SEN provision is from three elements:
All schools get money for each pupil at the school. This is called the Age Weighted Pupil Unit (AWPU) and it is part of schools’ delegated funding. Some of this money is to make general SEN provision. This might, for example, include the cost of providing the Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO) and some other resources.
The local authority provides Element 1 funding for the schools it is responsible for. The local Schools Forum agrees the formula that determines how much money the school gets for each pupil. The Education Funding Agency provides Element 1 funding for academies and free schools.
Element 2 funding is to provide SEN support that is additional to or different from the support that most other children get.
The local authority provides Element 2 funding for schools it is responsible for. The local Schools Forum agrees the formula that determines the amount of money the school gets. The Education Funding Agency provides Element 2 funding for academies and free schools. Element 2 funding is also part of schools’ delegated budget.
Government guidance says schools should provide up to the first £6,000 of additional or different support for those children who need it, including those with an Education, Health and Care plan (or a Statement of Special Educational Need). This does not mean that the school will spend £6,000 on every child with SEN.
Sometimes schools use funds to help groups of children. Some children will need less help – and some children may need more.
You can ask your school how it uses its SEN budget to support your child. The local authority also publishes a Local Offer that explains what type of resources this money might be spent on.
Some children have such complex needs that the school may request some additional funding to ‘top-up’ Elements 1 and 2.
The local authority is responsible for managing Element 3 funding (sometimes called the ‘high needs block’), which can be used to make specific provision for an individual child or a group of children, if the school or academy can show there is an exceptional level of need.