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How SEND support is funded in mainstream state-funded schools

Money Matters

Please note that the details below do not apply to schools that make a charge for the education of children and young people aged 5 to 18 years – also known as private or independent schools, fee-paying or fee-charging schools and sometimes also referred to as public schools.

A basic explanation of this is available via the link in the External Links box.

Where does the money come from?

Every mainstream school receives money from the government on a ‘per pupil’ basis.

Depending on whether the school is an academy or a maintained school, the money is given to them by

  • the local authority, if the school is a maintained school
  • the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA), if the school is an academy

How much money does a school get to educate a child?

Element 1: Core Education Funding

This is mainstream funding, also known as Age Weighted Pupil Unit (AWPU).

  • Each pupil (both with and without SEND) is provided with a certain amount of funding to meet their educational needs.  This is currently £4000 per annum.
  • This is used to make general provision for all pupils in the school (including pupils with a special educational need or a disability): buildings, staff costs, furniture, resources etc.

Element 2: Additional Support Funding

You may also hear this called the notional SEND budget.

This is paid to schools so that they can fulfil their legal obligation to:

use their best endeavours to make sure that a child with SEN gets the support they need – this means doing everything they can to meet children and young people’s SEN.

SEND Code of Practice (6.2)

The amount allocated to a school depends on each particular school’s circumstances:

  • levels of deprivation
  • levels of free school meals
  • levels of attainment

From this money, each school is expected to contribute up to £6,000 to support each child or young person with SEND, depending on their level of need.

NB: In practice, most SEND children will have their needs met well within this amount and therefore schools do not receive £6,000 per child on the SEND Register.

You can see how much each school receives by clicking this link:

What can schools use the Element 2 / notional SEND budget for?

Schools should use some of this money to buy resources and make provision for children who need extra help.

This provision may be any of the following but could also be other things the school feels will help them meet a particular child’s needs:

  • some changes to the curriculum
  • special equipment or teaching materials
  • the use of additional information technology
  • small group work
  • support in the classroom
  • a base to work in or have quiet time

Element 3: Top Up Funding from the High Needs Block

The local authority holds this funding.

In exceptional cases, a school may find that it needs more than the above £6,000 to meet an individual child/young person’s needs.

When this is the case, schools can request additional top-up funding (from Element 3 above).

This is done by requesting an assessment for an Education, Health and Care Plan.

(Historically, funding for IPRAs also comes from this funding block.)

More information about the EHC Panel can be found by clicking on the link below under Related Advice: Education, Health and Care (EHC) Referral Panel Guidance Notes. From this page you will find further links to detailed information.

What about Academies? Are they funded in the same way?

Academies receive their money from the government via the Education and Skills Funding Agency, not through the council.

  • 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 SEND - it is for services that Academies have to buy for themselves.

What about mainstream schools that have specialist units / provision?

Some mainstream state-funded schools also have additionally-resourced provision for children with particular difficulties.

This is referred to as Enhanced Mainstream Provision (EMP) Funding.

In Blackburn with Darwen there are 3 mainstream schools with additional resourced specialist provisions: St Cuthbert’s CEP, Lower Darwen Primary School and St Wilfrid’s CofE Academy.

Each EMP is funded on a "planned place" basis.

Pupils accessing these provisions will already have an EHCP in place.

More information about what support you can expect at school for your child or young person with Special Educational Needs or a Disability

Documents that outline what is expected of

  • schools
  • staff

can be found in the Downloads box.