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Guide to SEN funding

Guide to funding for SEN in schools and educational settings

1. How SEN support is funded in schools

How much funding a school or education setting gets for SEN support and how that funding is provided depends on the type of school.

Mainstream schools

Mainstream schools are funded based on how many pupils they have. This is called 'element 1' funding.

They get extra funding for pupils with additional needs. This is called 'element 2' funding.

The school can apply to us for additional funding for pupils with more complex needs. This is called 'element 3' or 'top up' funding.

Special schools and educational settings

Special schools aren’t funded in the same way as mainstream schools. Instead, they get £10,000 for each place that the council needs.

GOV.UK has more information on how much SEN funding different education settings get.

2. What SEN funding is for

Schools use their SEN funding to pay for things like:

  • specialist resources and equipment, including simple auxiliary aids, such as a pen grip to additional specialist software that supports spelling
  • one-to-one and small group learning support
  • extra support in the classroom
  • employing additional specialist support staff
  • professional advice, for example from educational psychologists or speech and language therapists

Find out how a school uses their SEN funding

You can ask your child’s school:

  • how it uses its SEN budget to support your child 
  • whether it has enough to make all the provision they need 

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

You can find a school's website on the GOV.UK Schools finder

3. Additional funding for children with very complex SEN needs

If your child has more complex SEN needs and requires specialist help to make sure they can make progress in school, their school or education setting can ask us for additional 'top up' funding. This is called 'element 3' funding and comes from our ‘high needs block’, which is allocated to us by central government.

The school or education setting must use it to provide support for the pupil that the funding is for. 

Types of specialist support can include:

  • access to the Bristol Autism Team, Sensory Support Service or Educational Psychology Services 
  • therapeutic interventions  
  • highly specialised resources, such as social communication and interaction groups, specialised speech and language therapy or ICT modifications 

If you feel your child would benefit from top up funding, you should speak to your school's SENCO. 

Read our Investing in our ‘high needs’ young people report from September 2018.

There is also an Easy read version of Investing in our 'high needs' young people report.

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