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What funding is available to support my child in school?

All mainstream schools in Plymouth have funding available through their budgets, which they must use to support children with special educational needs. This funding is made up of three elements:

Element 1 - also known as the Age Weighted Pupil Unit (AWPU)

This is the funding that schools receive for every pupil that is registered with them and is the school's core budget. It is used to support all pupils in the school, including those with SEN. The amount varies in different local authorities (LA) but in Plymouth, it is approximately £4,000 per pupil.

Schools are expected to use part of their Element 1 funding to support pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). This should be used to:

  • Employ a Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCo) whose role is:
    • Ensuring all practitioners in the setting understand their responsibilities to children with SEND and understand the setting's approach to identifying and meeting SEND
    • Ensuring parents and carers are involved and their views inform any action taken
    • Advising and supporting colleagues
    • Liaising with professionals outside of the setting
  • Provide administrative support for the SENCo
  • Provide resources required to differentiate the curriculum, including low-cost equipment and technical aids
  • Provide some additional support for children with SEND
  • Ensure classroom staff can take part in SEND reviews
  • Hold whole school activities related to the development, implementation and review of the school's SEND Policy

Element 2 - also known as the school's notional SEN budget

This is 'delegated' funding that schools receive to support pupils with SEN. The amount that schools receive is based on a formula that includes the number of children who have free school meals and those who aren't making good progress in English and Maths. The government recommends that schools should use this budget to fund up to £6,000 worth of provision for each pupil with SEN.

Schools must use their Element 1 and 2 funding on 'SEN provision'. SEN provision is anything that is 'additional to or different from' provision that is made for all pupils. Schools can spend this funding in any way they think is best but they have a duty to identify, assess and make special educational provision for all pupils with SEN in their school. Element 1 and 2 funding can be used to provide:

  • Differentiated curriculum
  • Additional support from learning support teachers, teaching assistants, and/or learning mentors so pupils can work in small groups or with individual support
  • Resources to support SEND planning and monitoring
  • Additional resources to support individual needs, for example, equipment and/or adaptations to the school
  • Enhanced access to ICT for pupils with SEND
  • Group strategies to promote independent or child-initiated learning
  • Some specific reinforcement or skill-development activities
  • Alternative curriculum opportunities at Key Stage 4
  • Specific inclusion activities and initiatives

Element 1 and 2 funding is enough to fund a combination of some 1:1 support, some work in small groups and some specific programs. The school should discuss this with you so that you know how your child is being supported in school.

You can find out more, about what you can expect from your school through Element 1 and 2 funding, in the expectations of schools SEND education and training provision document.  This document was produced in partnership with schools and provides further, more detailed examples, of common ways of working with children and young people with SEND.

Element 3 - also known as the High Needs Block or top-up funding

The local authority can provide additional funding when a pupil's needs cannot be met by the school's Element 1 and 2 budget and this is Element 3 funding.

Element 3 funding is assessed on an individual basis through the 'Single Multi-Agency Panel' (SMAP).  The assessment is carried out against a set of criteria for the child's particular need(s). The assessment will determine whether the child's needs can be met from the school's own resources (Elements 1 and 2). If the child's needs cannot be met from Element 1 and 2 funding, they will be allocated to one of three bands which attracts a specific level of funding and expected level of additional support. 

If the assessment is agreed, once it has taken place, a decision will be made about whether to issue an EHC plan.  If a decision is taken to issue an EHC plan the appropriate banding level will be decided so that a child or young person's needs can be met. This 'top up' funding can only be used to support the school in achieving the outcomes/provision outlined in section E/F of the Child or Young Person's EHC plan

The Plan will be reviewed every year to see whether the pupil's needs have changed and to ensure the right level of support is being provided. Plymouth City Council's 0-25 Team has the responsibility to audit, plan, monitor and review the use of the Local Authority allocated high needs block funding in mainstream schools, special schools, additionally resourced schools and post-16 and alternative provision. Staff from the SEN Monitoring Team also attend annual review meetings for individual children when required.



Plymouth's Local Offer is organised into four main categories covering the following age ranges:

 Plymouth Local Offer homepage



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