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SEND funding guide

SEND funding guide

The 2014 SEND national reforms, introduced as part of the Children’s and Families Act 2014, were designed to help learners aged 0-25 years. As you would expect, there are many different places people may go to learn. This includes schools, colleges, nurseries, training centres, apprenticeships, employer internships and more. Some of the learning providers may be mainstream and some may be specialist (just for people with SEND). Some may be part of the local authority and some may be academies, private companies or independent schools / colleges.

Usually SEND learners receive only education funding to help them. Others with more complex needs sometimes receive funding from Health or Social Care too. The 2014 Act was intended to make education funding for SEND as similar as possible, no matter where children and young people choose to get their education.

Mainstream schools and colleges

These are local authority schools, academies, free schools, studio schools, 6th forms and Further Education (FE) colleges. This does not include specialist units within mainstream schools and colleges (see Specialist Provision below). All are provided with resources to support children and young people with SEND. Funding for SEND learners can be considered in three elements:

Element 1:

Per pupil funding

In these places, the schools or colleges receive government funding from the Local Authority (maintained schools) or Education & Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) (academies, free schools and FE colleges) for each learner on roll. This funding is used to make general provision for all learners including those with SEND. Some of the funding will be used for general SEND provision, for example the cost of providing the Special Education Coordinator (SENCo). This payment is sometimes called Element 1.

Element 2:

Notional SEN budget

The education providers also receive funding, called the notional SEN budget (or Element 2), which allows them to support any learners with SEND. The school or college will use up to £6,000 to support SEND learners, although some SEND learners will need none of this funding and most require only a small amount of extra support to succeed.

Element 3:

Top-up funding

Where a learner’s needs cannot be met from the notional SEN budget, the school or college can apply to the local authority for extra funding, known as top-up funding (or Element 3). This funding is from the local authority’s High Needs budget.

This funding is normally part of an Education, Health & Care plan (EHC plan), and sometimes a Personal Budget (for more information about personal budgets click Helping children with disabilities | Newcastle City Council). Sometimes one-off additional support is provided by the local authority.


Specialist provision and Pupil Referral Units

This includes special schools (local authority maintained, academy or independent), specialist colleges, Pupil Referral Units (PRUs), specialist units within mainstream schools or colleges (sometimes called ARCs or ARPs) and Section 41 settings.

The funding for these places is very similar to mainstream education. The provider receives what is known as High Needs place funding for a place (Elements 1 and 2 in a single payment) plus High Needs top-up funding (element 3) for those learners who need it.

Pre-school children

The local authority’s Special Education Needs Outreach team advises on funding and support available for all children from birth to 4 years of age.

Some pre-school children receive education from a childcare provider or nursery and also need additional SEND support. The Special Education Needs Outreach team will advise on what support is available from the local authority or other services. The support may be equipment, additional staffing or funding.

Hospital education and education for ill children

This is funded differently through a national scheme. Some learners may receive High Needs top-up funding if they also have an EHC SEND and an EHC plan, but this will be dealt with case-by-case according to the learner’s needs at that time.

Private education

Private education is where you pay fees to the school or college yourself, rather than the local authority paying for the education. Private education usually takes place at home or in an independent mainstream school. The fee-payers (normally the family) also pay for the cost of any special educational needs provision there too. Learners with formal SEND plans (EHC plans) may receive a degree of local authority support in some circumstances.

Adult education and training 18-25 years

Most people with SEND leave education at 18 or 19 years to seek employment or training.

Learners older than 18 years sometimes apply to stay on in 6th form or college for another year or so. In special circumstances the local authority may agree to a further period of funding. In these cases the funding is dealt with in the same way as described above for mainstream and specialist education.

People who need extra help to succeed in their training or apprenticeship or internship should contact the Newcastle SEND Support, Assessment and Review team or their local Job Centre Plus to seek advice on benefits and other entitlements.