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Special Educational Needs funding

A young girl smiles whilst playing with an educational toy.

We can provide information and practical advice about the funding that is available to support pupils with their (SEND).

Special Educational Needs funding (SEN funding) is not dependent on the child or young person having an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHC Plan).

City of York Council use related the individual needs of the child or young person in order to determine appropriate SEN funding.

A child or young person’s needs can be categorised in one or more of the following "bands":

  • speech, language and communication needs
  • autism
  • cognition and learning
  • social, emotional and mental health
  • visual impairment support
  • deaf and hearing impairment support
  • physical and health needs.

For specialist provision and post maintained provision, City of York Council use a formula for funding. To request more information about this please email:

Early Years Funding

See information on , under The Local Offer, including:

  • what settings are expected to provide from within their core budget
  • information about how the ‘top-up’ funding element is allocated
  • eligibility criteria for the SEN Inclusion Fund
  • information about the Disability Access Fund

See further information about Early Years funding:

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SEN Support funding in schools

All mainstream schools receive money for SEN support.

The SEND Code of Practice says:

Schools must 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.

Schools should use some of their budget to buy resources and make provision for children who need additional help. This can take many forms, for example children with SEN might need:

  • 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

Details of the schools' SEND policies can be found on the schools' website.

If you want more information about what SEN support and resources your child is receiving, the first step is to talk with your child’s teacher or the SENCO. This may be at a parents’ evening, a support plan meeting or a review. You can ask for a written copy of any support plan in place for your child.

The SEN Information Report should be available on the school website. If your child has an EHC Plan it should set out the support and resources that are provided.

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Post-16 SEN support

The SEND Code of Practice says:

Colleges, including sixth-form colleges and academies have a duty to use their best endeavours to secure the special educational provision that the young person needs… whether or not the students have EHC plans.

Funding for learners aged 16 to 19 at further education colleges and training providers is provided by the ESFA. This can be extended up to the age of 25 for students who have an EHC Plan.

The ESFA also fund further education colleges and training providers to offer further education to adult learners aged 19 and over. This includes adults under 25 without an EHC plan who self-declare a learning difficulty or disability.

Individual education or training providers will decide how to use its money to plan resources and support those with SEND.

See further information about (Preparing for Adulthood).

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The sources of SEN funding

All mainstream schools receive money for SEN support and resources. Schools can decide how to spend this money. This is called “delegated” funding because it is given to schools by local authorities or the (ESFA) from money they receive from central government.

The SEN part of the school’s income is sometimes called the “notional” SEN budget, because it’s not based on the school’s actual numbers of pupils with special needs, but on a formula.

Schools also receive funding called the (pupil premium plus for children looked after), used to close the attainment gaps and improve social and emotional wellbeing for disadvantaged children.

Funding for SEN provision comes from 3 Elements:

Element 1

The local authority provides Element 1 funding for the schools it is responsible for.

Schools get money for each pupil based on actual pupil numbers. This is called the Age Weighted Pupil Unit (AWPU) and it is part of schools’ delegated funding.

Each local authority sets the AWPU for their schools and the ESFA sets the AWPU for academies and free schools. The AWPU differs according to the school type, for example whether the school is a primary or secondary setting.

Some of the Element 1 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.

Element 2

Element 2 funding is SEN-specific, and is to provide SEN support for children who need it. This is 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.

Where the local authority provides this funding for schools it is responsible for using a formula that determines the amount of money the school gets. The local Schools Forum agrees the formula that determines the amount of money the school gets. The formula gives more money to schools that in the past had more children on free school meals and more children who were not doing as well as others in English and Maths.

The ESFA 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 (on top of the AWPU) of additional or different support for those children who need it, including those with an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHC Plan). 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.

Schools must publish detailed information about how their arrangements for identifying, assessing and making provision for children with SEN.

The local authority also publishes a Local Offer that explains what type of resources this money might be spent on.

Funding for the Enhanced Resource Provision or ‘Specialist Units‘ is at £10,000 per place.

Element 3

Some children have such complex needs that the school may request some additional funding to ‘top-up’ Elements 1 and 2, this is Element 3 funding. This can be used for children with or without an EHC Plan

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.

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Managing school SEN resources

The SEND Code of Practice says:

It is for schools, as part of their normal budget planning, to determine their approach to using their resources to support the progress of pupils with SEN. The SENCO, head teacher and governing body or proprietor should establish a clear picture of the resources that are available to the school. They should consider their strategic approach to meeting SEN in the context of the total resources available, including any resources targeted at particular groups, such as the pupil premium.

School governors are responsible for the school’s policy on SEN and how the resources are used.

The head teacher and the SENCO ensure that the policy is put into practice. The SENCO organises support for individual children, but every teacher is responsible making sure that your child’s SEN requirements are met in the classroom.

The SEN Information Report on the school’s website tells you more about the arrangements for SEN support and how to contact the SENCO.

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