The Local Authority receives money from central government each year to fund schools. This is called the Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG). The DSG is split into four blocks of ‘block’ funding:

  • Early years block
  • Schools block
  • High needs block
  • Central block

Funding in different settings

Early Years

There are different types of early years funding available to support children aged 2 to 4 years old. Some of this funding is available for families and some is paid directly to early years settings. 

Mainstream Schools

The main budget for mainstream schools is called the Schools Block and is made of three elements. 

Element 1: Per Pupil Funding This is used by individual schools to support all pupils. It includes those who have special educational needs.
Element 2: SEN Funding This is for schools to spend directly on making special educational provision. Element 2 funding is often referred to as the SEN Notional Budget.
Element 3: High Needs Block – Top up Funding Top up funding is intended to provide additional, individually targeted support for named
pupils who have a range of complex special educational needs whilst remaining in
mainstream schools. Top- up funding is provided where these needs, and the provision
required to meet them, are more significant than those typically met by resources that are
already available to schools.

SEN Funding

SEN funding for each school is calculated using a formula. This formula uses the following SEN ‘proxy indicators’.

  • 5% Pupil numbers (AWPU)
  • 100% Low prior attainment
  • 50% Social deprivation (IDACI, FSM, FSM6)

Each year the school is informed through their school budget share how much notional SEN money they will receive in support of low-cost high incident pupils.

Schools should use their notional SEN funding to meet the needs of the cohort of children and young people with SEND in their setting.

Things that a school may want to consider when allocating funding on resources:

  • Expertise within the school to plan for any resources needed
  • Curriculum pathways
  • Specialist advice needed
  • Specific SEND resources
  • Provision specified in Education, Health and Care Plans
  • Evidence-based interventions

Top Up Funding

Pupils who access top-up funding will have exceptionally complex special educational needs.  

Pupils with these needs are likely to require:

  • significant levels of regular teaching and/or support of a teaching assistant to address individual targets;
  • daily highly structured learning opportunities;
  • frequent access to small groups or individualised teaching;
  • additional support required to ensure an integrated learning experience;
  • support to ensure equal access and social integration opportunities during the school day;
  • additional curriculum activities/arrangements that need to be in place within or outside of the usual learning environment for the child or young person to achieve.

Top-up funding can be used for a range of responses to SEND including:

  • providing support for pupils with complex needs in mainstream settings;
  • purchase one off resources or equipment for a specific child or young person;
  • SEN training and development for specific members of staff in order to deliver specific provision.


All young people aged 16 to 19 (up to 25 if they have an education, health, and care plan) should follow a coherent study programme which provides stretch and progression and enables them to achieve the best possible outcomes in adult life. Schools and colleges are expected to design study programmes which enable students to progress to a higher level of study than their prior attainment.

For students who are not taking qualifications, their study programme should focus on high quality work experience, and on non-qualification activity which prepares them well for employment, independent living, being healthy adults and participating in society.

When a young person with special educational needs turns 16, they have a number of post-16 options available to them.

Further Education colleges generally offer a wide range of vocational and academic courses. They provide support for students with additional needs including specialist teaching support, one to one support if required, lifts/ramps and specialist equipment.

Funding in Mainstream Further Education Colleges

Further Education colleges generally offer a wide range of vocational and academic courses. They provide support for students with additional needs including specialist teaching support, one to one support, and specialist equipment including lifts or ramps.

There are two types of funding available at a mainstream FE college

Element 1: Place Funding This is the core funding that is provided to an institution for all learners.
Element 2: Place Funding Provides £6000 of funding for high-needs learners. This is not intended to support those with needs costing less than £6000. Place allocations for an academic year are agreed between the Local Authority and each individual college
Element 3: top-up funding Where funding over £6,000 is required, the needs of the individual learner are taken into account and an amount determined between the college and the Local Authority.
Funding in Specialist independent Colleges

Independent special schools and special post-16 institutions do not have a distinctive definition in law. Unlike maintained schools and academies, further education colleges and non-maintained special schools, such institutions cannot be subject to statutory duties as a distinct group.

Element 1: Place Funding This is the core funding that is provided to an institution for all learners.
Element 2: Place Funding Provides £6000 of funding. Place allocations for an academic year are based on previous years pupil numbers.
Element 3: top-up funding The needs of the individual learner are taken into account and an amount determined between the provider and the local authority.

For funding purposes, a high needs student is defined as:

  • a young person aged 16 to 18 who requires additional support costing over £6,000
  • any young person aged 19 to 25 subjects to an education, health, and care plan (EHCP) who requires additional support costing over £6,000

Resource Bases

Resource Bases in Birmingham receive place funding for each commissioned space from the local authority.

In addition, from April 2022, when a pupil is placed within a Resource Base specialising in autism, cognition and learning or speech, language and communication needs, the school will receive funding at the level of 5 support units. If, at the point of consultation for the place, the setting feel that a higher level of funding is required, they will be able to request the higher rate of 6 support units.

Top up funding is reviewed as part of the annual review process and further changes can be requested as part of this.

Resource Bases specialising in hearing and aision Impairments will be funded via transitional arrangements for the 22/23 financial year whilst a working group look at a similar model of funding for these settings.

For children in Resource Bases with exceptional needs, the setting can apply for Exceptional Special Needs funding (ESN). This will be considered by the local authority on a case by case basis, with the full funding envelope for the Resource Base being considered. 

Special Schools

In April 2013 the National School Funding Reforms were introduced, that led to changes to the funding of special schools by local authorities. Two major funding streams were introduced:

  • Core funding entails £10, 000 per place to support the provision of pupils.
  • Top Up funding is individual pupil led.

In 2013, working closely with special school head teachers, the Birmingham Banded Funding is the system that was developed by a working group for the allocation of the ‘Top Up’ element of the funding. Read more about the Birmingham Banded Funding ‘Top Up’ funding development.

The Banded Funding Model

The new banded funding system is based on the classifications of SEN need as used in the code of practice school census data

Classification of Needs Code attached to classification
Speech, Language and Communication A
Cognition and Learning B
Social, Emotional, Mental Health C
Sensory D
Physical E

The detailed descriptors for each band are set out in the Birmingham Banded Funding descriptors document.

It is envisaged that the majority of pupils assessed at Band 1 will be having their needs met in mainstream primary provision through developed funding. No ‘top up’ funding is allocated to this Band. If a pupil is in specialist provision, the school will still secure the ‘core costs’ for the pupil.

Following appropriate assessment, all pupils will be placed on a Band according to their primary area of need. The banding decision is based on the actual needs of the student and the school provision in place to meet the needs. The assessment is based on a best fit model.

Once a pupil’s primary need has been identified then they will be assessed on the level of complexity; there are 4 levels.

For example a pupil whose primary need is Cognition and Learning could be assessed as B1, B2, B3, and B4.