Funding available to meet the education needs of pupils aged 0 to 25

For all children in mainstream schools, including those with Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities (SEND), the early years, school or college budget is based on a formula which includes an amount of money for each pupil.

In Somerset, for early years this is an average of £2,377 for each child (based on 15 hours each week, which works out as 570 hours each year), for schools, this is an average of £3,902 for primary aged pupils and £4,935 for secondary aged pupils. For colleges, this is an average of £4,000 for each student (for a study programme of more than 540 hours each year). The setting uses this money to make general provisions for all pupils, including pupils with SEND.

Included in the figures above for early years and school aged children, there is some funding for the education provider to use towards the additional needs of the child. This is known as notional Special Educational Needs (SEN) funding.

In colleges, there is separate funding known as ‘disadvantage funding’ of up to £480 for each eligible student and £6,000 for students with high needs. The £6,000 is not intended to meet the needs of students with support costs lower than this threshold – for those students, the college has ‘disadvantage funding’ within its core budget.

There are also additional grants from the Department for Education (DfE) for initiatives like PE and sports, and Universal Infants Free School Meals available to schools. Separate from these is the Pupil Premium funding, which is available to early years providers and schools for eligible pupils. Pupil Premium provides money based on the number of pupils eligible for free school meals (this will soon be based on Universal Credit), £300 for each eligible child for early years, £1,320 for primary aged pupils and £935 for secondary aged pupils. There is also Pupil Premium available to schools for pupils from service families, £300 for each eligible pupil, and £2,300 for those in care to the local authority and those who have been adopted from care.

The funding can be spent on how the school likes to support pupils from low-income families, service families and children in care to close the attainment gap between them and their peers. On their websites, schools must publish how they intend to spend the Pupil Premium funding each year.

Advice and support can still be accessed by the early years setting or school from specialist services, even if the further funding detailed below isn’t allocated to the child. Schools often work together in local groups called Community Learning Partnerships to share ideas and expertise – some also share resources.

For some children with additional needs and high needs, educational providers are expected to provide additional support to enable them to participate in education and learning in the same way as their peers. The cost of the additional support is the responsibility of the setting, from the funds they have available. Where the cost of additional support is more than the core funding, the setting can apply for top-up funding. This is usually part of the statutory assessment, Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP), but not in every case. The setting must be able to demonstrate that the cost of additional support they have already provided for the pupil or student to participate in education and learning is more than £6,000 (proportionally less for children who are not full-time).

Schools are required to set out the SEN provision available and details of the staff, resources and strategy they use in a document called the school’s SEN Information Report (For more information, see the SEND policy on the school’s website).

Other sources of money to help children with SEND apart from the school budget

While the needs of almost all mainstream children can be met through the early years, school or college budget, there will always be a small number of children from early years to 25 whose needs are so complex or unusual that money to support them can only be allocated individually. In these cases the early years setting, school or college may have additional funding from the local authority’s High Needs Block.

This is the definition of high needs pupils or students who receive support from the local authority high needs budget

  • Children aged 0 to 5 with Special Educational Needs (SEN) who the local authority decides to support – some of these children may have EHC plans
  • Pupils aged 5 to 18 with high levels of SEN, in schools, academies, further education institutions, specialist post-16 institutions (SPIs) or other settings. Most, but not all, of these pupils will have EHC plans
  • Students aged 19 to 25 in further education institutions and SPIs who have an EHC plan and need extra support cost more than £6,000.
  • School age pupils are placed in alternative provisions by the local authority or schools.

Where they have an EHC plan, the young people or parents may request a personal budget for some of the funding, where appropriate. To understand how much this funding is and what it is for, they can choose to work with the local authority and education setting to arrange provision or request a Direct Payment to arrange their own provision independently. For more information, see Choosing your own support.

The funding is allocated through a universal banding system in Somerset, based on the description of special educational needs, which goes from band 1 to band 7. The allocation is for the institution or provider to use towards providing additional support. It will not be the exact amount assessed for each individual pupil or student. In some cases, there may be exceptional short-term costs which are more than the band allocation. If this happens, the institution or provider can apply to the Exceptional SEND Panel for the additional resource to be assessed, on the child’s behalf. The high needs top-up funding band transfers with the child when they move to a different setting. See the Banding Descriptors document for more detailed information about the levels of need.

Disability Access Fund (DAF) provides £828 each year for every eligible child to support their access to the free entitlement for early years. This fund is for 3 and 4 year olds who are taking up their free entitlement and who receive Disability Living Allowance (DLA).

Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) provides money to cover some of the extra costs you have because of a mental health problem, long-term illness or any other disability that affects your study in higher education.

Last reviewed: October 10, 2023 by Sophie

Next review due: April 10, 2024

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