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Top Up Funding is agreed locally and is given to schools under three main headings:
Schools get most of their funding based on the total number of pupils in the school. Every pupil in a school attracts an amount of money. The amount varies from one authority to another. There is usually more funding for each pupil in a secondary school than in a primary school. In 2015/16, all secondary schools, including academies, are getting at least £4,000 for each pupil and all primary schools are getting at least £3,000 for each pupil.
This is the core budget for each school and it is used to make general provision for all pupils in the school including pupils with SEN.
Every school receives an additional amount of money to help make special educational provision to meet children’s SEN. This is called the Notional SEN budget.
Element 2 is called the Notional SEN budget because no-one tells schools exactly how they should spend their money. When funding is delegated to schools, they can spend it in the way they think is best. However, schools have a duty to identify, assess and make special educational provision for all children with SEN; and the local authority has a duty to set out what schools are expected to provide from their delegated budget.
The amount in this budget is based on a formula which is agreed between schools and the local authority. The formula usually gives more money to schools that have more children on free school meals and more children who are not doing as well as others in English and Maths. This provides a good guide to how many children with SEN a school is likely to have.
A small number of schools may find they have many more children with SEN than expected. This might happen where, for example, a school has a good reputation for teaching children with SEN. Where this does happen, the school can ask the local authority for additional funding.
The government has recommended that schools should use this notional SEN budget to pay for up to £6,000 worth of special educational provision to meet a child’s SEN. Most children with SEN need special educational provision that comes to less than £6,000.
Special educational provision is anything that is provided to meet a child’s SEN that is ‘additional to or different from’ provision made for all children. The local authority must make sure that the special educational provision specified in an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP) is made for the child. For a child receiving SEN Support a school must use its ‘best endeavours’ to make sure that special educational provision is made to meet a child’s SEN. Schools must also follow the SEND Code of Practice 2014 which expects schools to involve parents in decisions a about how their child’s needs are met.
If the school can show that a pupil with SEN needs more than £6,000 worth of special educational provision, it can ask the local authority to provide top-up funding to meet the cost of that provision. Where the local authority agrees, the cost is provided from funding held by the local authority for children and young people with high levels of need.
Element 3 is provided by the local authority for an individual pupil who has a high level of need. Schools are expected to use this funding to make provision for that individual pupil.
Funding for the provision specified in an Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plan comes from the local authority's high needs block, along with funding for the first £6,000 worth of provision from the school’s notional SEN budget. The school will continue to provide this when they receive top-up funding for a child with an EHC Plan.