Mainstream and Special Schools Funding

The Place-Plus System

In April 2013 the Place-Plus system was introduced in order to move to a fairer, more consistent SEN funding system across all Local Authorities. The way in which Mainstream and Special schools are funded differs.

Mainstream Funding

SEN funding in maintained Mainstream schools consists of three elements:

  1. The Age Weighted Pupil Unit (AWPU) – this is the basic/core sum that all schools receive per child, regardless of their SEN. The total sum a school receives is dependent on the total number of students in the school. It is generally thought that the sum equates to between £2,000 to £4,000 per student which is used for general school provisions.

    It is important to remember that special educational provision is any support that is additional to or different to provision that is provided for all students i.e. provision that is expected to be provided from the core AWPU.

  1. Additional support funding (ASF) – schools are given additional money to meet the needs of children with SEN. The amount of ASF that a school receives is based on a formula agreed by schools and the Local Authority. This formula involves various criteria including a social deprivation index which for example may allocate more funding to schools with more children on free school meals. Currently, the government suggests that schools use up to £6,000 for a pupil with SEN. Schools can choose to spend this money as they think best to meet the needs of all their children with SEN. The Local Authority can set out what it expects schools to provide from this funding but it is not enforceable.

    ASF is given to maintained schools by the Local Authority and to academies and free schools by the Education Funding Agency (EFA).

  1. Top-up funding – if a student with SEN requires funding over £6,000, then schools (maintained, academies and free schools) can request additional funding from the Local Authority’s high needs block. This funding must be used on the individual and is usually provided to support the assessed needs of students with an EHC plan.

Special Schools Funding

Special schools (maintained, academy and non-maintained but not independent schools) are provided with base SEN funding of £10,000 per student (the total sum based on an estimate of the predicted number of places in the next academic year). If required, schools can request top-up funding from either the Local Authority (if a maintained school) or the Education Funding Agency (if an academy or free school).

Funding for Alternative Provisions

Alternative provisions including Pupil referral units are funded similarly to special schools. However they have a base funding of £8,000 per place.