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Government consults on new proposals for high needs funding for pupils with SEND

The government is consulting on proposals to reform high needs funding in schools. NAHT will respond to this consultation, informed by members of our SEND Committee, but individual members working in this sector can also respond directly.

The proposals set out factors for how local authorities will be funded and, therefore, the top-up funding budgets available for schools. This change is intended to allow greater consistency and transparency to support children and young people with very high needs who need top-up funding.

The proposal establishes national factors for allocating funding to local authorities using a number of proxies that influence how many pupils requiring high needs funding a local authority is likely to support.

Findings from the ISOS 'Research on funding for young people with special educational needs' has been taken into account and broadly reflects the recommended factors with five proxies proposed:

  • two health and disability factors looking at the number of children receiving Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and the number of children in bad health
  •  two low attainment factors, including low attainment at key stages 2 and 4
  • a deprivation factor combining FSM eligibility and IDACI data


The number of children in the two to 18 age range in any local authority is taken into account.

The issue of schools that support children from another local authority is addressed. To achieve this, each local authority's allocation will include a basic pupil/student entitlement for each child or young person in a special school, special academy or specialist funded post-16 institution that is funded from the high needs block. This would only cover the amount allocated to mainstream schools so the balance of the £10,000 place funding would still come out of an authority's high needs funding allocation. But there would be adjustments to compensate authorities that are net 'importers' of pupils at the expense of others.

An area factor will be applied to the funding formula to reflect higher staffing costs in some parts of the county.

Only population and deprivation factors will be used for funding Alternative Provision (AP), as these are most relevant to determine the need for this provision in any local authority.

To ensure support for children is not disrupted during the transition, the DfE will take into account what local authorities are currently spending in their allocations so that no local authority sees a dramatic change. There is also local authority Minimum Funding Guarantee.

Changes to the funding for special SEND units attached to mainstream schools are proposed, moving from £10,000 SEN place funding to the usual per pupil amount (that vary but are generally around £4,000).

Finally, there is also a proposal to harmonise the approach to funding post 16 provision to that of younger pupils, with the ability to fund specialist high needs units in mainstream colleges.

This consultation is seeking case studies to inform their thinking, and views on the building blocks of this formula and the proposed funding factors by 17 April.

A second consultation will then seek views on proposals for relative weighting and values for the different formula factors, and will provide illustrations on the impact on each local authority.

Page Published: 18/03/2016