Maintained Schools

All children and young people in mainstream schools and academies should have:

  • the highest possible expectations and stretching targets set for them so they can achieve their best and are prepared for adulthood
  • their progress monitored so that any gaps in understanding or barriers to achieving targets are identified quickly
  • lessons planned so that any barriers to achieving their best are removed and they can take part in the lesson/learning activity
  • teaching built on what they already know and can understand
  • different ways of teaching in place so that every child is fully involved in learning which can involve using practical equipment or providing different resources
  • any concerns raised by themselves or their parents taken seriously.

In order to meet these expectations, schools receive funding which is made up of 3 elements:

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

This is 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 Gateshead 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 disability (SEND). This should be used to:

  • Employ a Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCo) whose role is:
    • Ensuring all practitioners at school understand their responsibilities to children with SEND and understand the school’s approach to identifying and meeting SEND
    • Ensuring that parents and carers are involved and their views inform any action taken
    • Advising and supporting colleagues around SEND
    • Liaising with professionals outside of the setting to seek specialist help and support where appropriate
  • 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 currently 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 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 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 2 funding is enough to fund up to 10 hours of 1:1 support from a teaching assistant but the school can also choose to provide a combination of some 1:1 support, some work in small groups and some specific programmes rather than using it all on 1:1 support. The school should discuss this with parents/carers so that they know exactly how their child is being supported in school.

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 2 budget and this is Element 3 funding. Schools can apply for this funding if they can evidence that a pupil requires more SEN provision than can be provided using their Element 1 and 2 budgets.

Pupils assessed as needing Element 3 funding will be issued with an Education, Health and Care Plan. The EHC 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. Gateshead Council 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 Council’s SEN Team also attend annual review meetings for individual children as appropriate.