Schools funding

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." (6.2)

The Local Offer is the place to find out about services available locally and the arrangements that schools and others are expected to make for children and young people with SEN.

All mainstream schools have money for special educational needs
support and resources. Schools can decide how to spend this money.

Schools should use some of their budget to buy resources and make provision for children who need additional help.

Funding for SEN provision in mainstream schools comes from three main elements explained in the dropdown buttons below.

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

Read also our summary of pupil premium funding streams and pupil premium plus.


  • The local authority provides Element 1 funding for the schools it is responsible for.
  • Some of this 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.
  • The Education Funding Agency provides Element 1 funding directly to academies and free schools.
  • The local authority provides Element 2 funding for schools it is responsible for. The local Schools Forum agrees the formula that determines the amount of money the school gets and this includes funding for free school meals.
  • The Education Funding Agency 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 of additional or different support for those children who need it, including those with an Education, Health and Care 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.
  • You can ask your school how it uses its SEN budget to support your child.
  • 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. 
  • Some children have such complex needs that the school may request some additional funding to ‘top-up’ Elements 1 and 2.
  • This can be used for children with or without an Education, Health & Care plan.
  • The local authority is responsible for managing Element 3 funding (sometimes called the ‘high needs block’).
  • This can be used to make specific provision for an individual child or a group of children, where a school or academy can show there is an exceptional level of need.
  • You can find details of how Element 3 funding is allocated in the Local Offer.
  • Special schools are provided with base funding of £10,000 (elements 1 & 2 combined essentially) for each planned place, dependent on the predicted admissions for the next academic year.
  • In maintained schools the budget will be supplied by the local authority (LA).
  • Academies receive funding direclty from the Education Funding Agency.
  • Where a special school evidences that a child has needs beyond the funding provided, they can request top-up funding from the LA.