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In relation to decisions about where children and young people with SEND should be educated, the Children and Families Act 2014 works on the principle of children attending mainstream schools (i.e this is the 'general presumption in law' of mainstream education). This is outlined in the SEND Code of Practice - February 2015, para 1, 26. You can read the SEND Code of Practice here (external site)
Nationally, and in Sutton, the majority of young people with SEND are educated in mainstream settings and mainstream schools are funded to support young people with SEND through their ‘notional SEND budgets’.
A school's notional funding is part of a school’s ‘delegated’ budget - funding that comes in directly to the school via the National Funding Formula. This is the budget that the Local Authority reasonably expects schools spend to meet the needs of pupils with SEND in schools.
Notional funding applies to schools Years R - 11. It does not apply to Nursery provision as the ‘inclusion fund’ is part of the Early Years National Funding Formula. Nor does notional funding apply to post 16 provision as there is student financial support funding.
It’s called ‘notional’ because it isn’t ring fenced and schools can spend it in the way that they think is best. However, there is usually a teacher and Governor lead for SEND notional funding to make sure it is spent for its intended purposes.
Notional budgets will vary for each school based on the characteristics of pupils that attend the school. The notional budgets of all mainstream schools in 2021/22 are set out below together with a FAQ document explaining this funding in more detail.
Schools receive a 'per pupil' amount for all pupils on the roll of their school - this is their 'basic entitlement' (i.e what they will receive before any additions etc) and is sometimes referred to as 'Element 1 funding'. Schools are expected to use their notional SEND funding to provide up to £6,000 worth of special educational provision to meet a child’s SEND. This is sometimes referred to as ‘Element 2 funding’. This is provision that would be 'ordinarily available' in mainstream state funded education settings to meet the needs that would be considered predictable: that is generally speaking, ‘higher incidence and/or lower need’ SEND.
To support mainstream schools in the Borough, local area leaders have provided additional funding to support 'predictable needs’. When added to the notional SEND funding that schools already receive, the additional funding will help schools to grow their capacity and resources to meet the needs of pupils in mainstream settings (the presumption for all pupils with SEND) more effectively and sooner. This isn’t funding for specific/individual pupils but funding to help schools to plan for and provide whole school resources / provision to meet predictable needs. This funding is unique to Sutton (there is no requirement for the Local Authority to provide this funding - hence why it is ‘additional’) and the funding is contingent year on year on the overall position on the High Needs Block. In 2020/21 £0.4m was invested by the Local Area and 2021/22 a further £0.5m was invested. These decisions have been taken in partnership with schools through the Sutton Education Partnership and Sutton Schools Forum. Please click on the links below to learn more about predictable needs
For the vast majority of pupils with SEND, their needs can be met by the funding identified above. However, some young people may need additional support in addition to the provision that is ‘ordinarily available’ in mainstream settings.
In Sutton a very large proportion of Sutton’s High Needs Block is spent on pupils who have an Education, Health and Care Plan. However, leaders in Sutton are considering ways in which high needs funding can be used to build capacity and resources in mainstream schools without the need for an Education Health and Care plan. This would be a stronger and more robust system for all pupils.
Of course, for some young people, whose needs are more complex and/or exceptional (i.e not needs that mainstream schools could ordinarily be expected to meet) an Education, Health and Care plan may be necessary and appropriate. Young people with an EHC plan may still be educated in a mainstream setting but the school will need additional resources beyond those set out in their notional SEND budget to support the young person.