Understanding SEND funding for education settings

Every local authority receives money from central government specifically for education. This is called the Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG).

The Dedicated Schools Grant is split into four sections:

  • Early years block funding that is mainly given to nursery education providers.
  • Schools block funding that is mainly given to mainstream schools, including academies.
  • High needs block funding to support pupils with high levels of needs in relation to special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).  
  • Central Schools Services Block supports local authority functions for schools.

Page contents:

Early years block funding

The Department of Education funding goes into the early years block for:

  • Free entitlement for 3 and 4 year-olds
  • Extended hours for eligible 3 and 4 year-olds
  • Free entitlement for some 2 year-olds

Further details about free child care funding and how you apply can be found by reading the following article about childcare funding and details about Early Years SEND funding for education settings.

Schools block funding

The schools block represents the main part of the budget for all mainstream schools.  

School governors or academy trustees decide on how best to use this funding to run their school to ensure the needs of all children are met and they make good progress. Normally, a large element of this funding is used to cover staffing costs.

Schools funding is calculated on a locally determined formula using several funding factors. For example, basic entitlement is an amount allocated to schools for every pupil.

Within the Schools funding there is a Notional SEN amount. This is an amount of money, calculated within the locally determined formula. 

The SEN funding for each school is based on the following considerations

  • Basic entitlement
  • prior attainment (how the school have performed consistently over the past years)
  • social deprivation (the extent to which a person, or a community, lacks what they need to have a decent life)
  • lump sum

The notional SEN funding supports pupils identified as requiring SEND Support up to the mandatory £6k threshold per pupil per annum.

In addition to the school’s main formula funding a school can also receive other funding such as pupil premium, sports premium, looked after children premium etc.

How schools should spend their funding

Schools have a duty to identify what support is needed to help your child. They should plan and implement this support, reviewing the effectiveness regularly and monitoring your child’s progress at all times.  In SEN this process is known as Graduated Approach.

Schools should use their funding to make reasonable adjustments and pay for things that can help your child, such as:

  • training and/or equipment
  • advice and guidance from external professionals
  • putting appropriate interventions in place.

Each year a school is informed on how much money they will get.

You can find the school's SEND information report on the school’s website. This should indicate how the school uses SEND funding to support pupils with SEND.

How academies are funded 

Academies get the same level of funding for each pupil as local authority schools in the same area; their notional SEN budget is also worked out 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. These are the services that are provided by the local authority for the schools we maintain.

High needs block funding

While the needs of the vast majority of children with SEND can be met through the school’s main budget, there will be a small number of pupils whose needs are so complex or exceptional that they cannot be met from the school’s normal resources.

Where individual pupils require additional support that costs more than £6,000, the extra costs should be met by requesting high needs funding (also known as element 3 funding) for the individual pupil.

High Needs funding (Element 3) for pupils is provided by the local authority after a statutory assessment has been carried out on a child’s needs and an education, health and care plan has been agreed. The funding is then passed on to the school attended by this child. 

Not all of the high needs funding is given to schools for individual pupils. Some is used to fund other types of support and provision, including:

  • State funded special schools
  • Specialist resources bases
  • Places in alternative provision and independent schools
  • Central services for example a speech and language service.

Understand SEND funding

For general enquiries regarding SEND, including SEN Support Services, please contact Will Pritchard, Strategic Lead for inclusion and SEND: will.pritchard@southglos.gov.uk