Funding for special educational needs (SEN) in mainstream schools

Mainstream schools get funding as part of their budget to support children with SEND. This is known as a school’s “notional SEN budget”. The amount of SEN funding for each school is calculated using a national formula. It is based on indicators such as economic deprivation and previous attainment. It is not based on individual assessments of the needs of pupils in the school.

Schools should use this funding to put support in place for pupils who need it. For most children, this funding should be enough to meet their needs.

The government has said schools should provide the first £6,000 for a child each year from their notional SEN budget. A very small number of children will need more than this amount of individual support.

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'Top-up' or 'high needs' funding

Schools can apply for 'top-up' or 'high needs' funding.  This is to support children/young people in meeting their special educational needs. The local authority has provided money to Sheffield’s seven localities (A-G) to provide this.

Each locality has several secondary schools and their primary feeder schools. The amount of top-up funding that each locality gets is based on the number of learners who are placed at levels 4 and 5 on the Sheffield Support Grid

Schools get a part of this funding direct for their learners at levels 4 and 5. 

How Localities use the funding

The schools in each locality agree together how to use this top-up funding. They might:

  • decide to buy services together (e.g. employ a specialist to work across all schools in the locality)
  • divide it up between schools

The localities work together to make sure top-up funding is available to meet the needs of individual pupils.  This includes making sure that provision in an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan is in place.

Schools can make requests to their locality for funding to support children both with and without an EHC Plan. Funding decisions can be made:

  • at stage one or stage two of the locality processes
  • at a locality funding panel

This depends on the arrangements in each locality. All extra funding to support provision in an EHC Plan is applied for this way.

What is expected from schools

Individual schools are expected to have a strategic approach to meeting SEN.  This is from the total resources they have available.

This approach must be set out in the school’s published SEN policy.  This policy should help parents understand what they can expect the school to provide for pupils with SEN. 

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