Clarifying personal SEN budgets

Early years settings, schools, academies, colleges and other learning providers are focused on supporting all the children or young people to achieve quality learning outcomes. The teacher or tutor will be focused on helping every member of their class or tutor group to achieve well.
Some children and young people will need additional support to achieve their learning outcomes. We call this targeted support. Early years settings, schools, academies and colleges have funding for this. The targeted support might include, for example, focused literacy support or a behaviour management programme.
A small number of children and young people will require additional and individual support over and above the targeted support so that they can participate in learning activities, enjoy the learning experience and achieve well. At the moment, most of these children and young people have a statement of special educational needs and in the future they will have an education, health and care (EHC) plan, which may be supported by a personal budget. Where some or all of this budget is to enable the child or young person to participate, enjoy and achieve their learning outcomes, this element is called the personal SEN budget.
A simple explanation
A child or young person may also have an element of their personal budget from social care (for example short breaks) or health. While the personal SEN budget is focused on learning outcomes, a personal care budget is focused on outcomes around family and home life, being safe when out and about in the local community and being able to take part in life outside school. Personal health budgets are focused on health outcomes. Together these elements form the child or young person’s overall personal budget.
In use since April 2013, the new school funding arrangements divide funding for children and young people into three parts (elements 1, 2 and 3). Using this scheme we can see how this works for mainstream settings, schools, academies and colleges.
Universal services and the mainstream covers funding per pupil at a school, with each school receiving an amount to fund a place at school. This is called element 1.
Targeted services and support involves additional learning support funding. Each setting, school, academy or college is expected to provide support up to the equivalent of £6,000 to meet the additional support needs of childr en and young people who require this. This is called element 2.
Choice and control/self-directed support covers ‘top-up’ funding, retained by the local authority. This is called element 3. This funding is allocated through a resource allocation system as indicative personal SEN budgets. It provides the additional individual support the child or young person needs in order to achieve their learning outcomes as set out in their EHC plan or statement of SEN. Parts of the personal SEN budget may be taken as a direct payment and used by parents on behalf of the child or by the young person themselves to purchase the additional and individual support set out in the EHC plan (for example, any assessed support which is not already provided by the school).

How are budgets allocated?
Following the single assessment process, a decision will be made about how to meet the identified learning, health and/or care outcomes together with the child or young person and their family. The decision will include whether there is a need for a personal budget from one or more of the available budgets: education, health or social care (or in some cases form a single pooled ‘support’ budget).
If it is agreed that a personal budget is needed to achieve particular outcomes, a resource allocation will be completed with the family or young person, resulting in an indicative budget being allocated to help draw up the EHC plan. The indicative budget will be known in the early stages of the EHC plan. Children, young people and families will be supported to create the plan. It is only once the planning process has been completed that it will be clear what the final personal budget should be in order to fund the additional support required to achieve the identified outcomes.

Other support options
A personal SEN budget does not include funding for the school place, and it does not include targeted support managed by the school or other learning providers to offer additional learning support to individuals, classes or groups of pupils and students. A personal SEN budget enables the support offered to the child or young person to be further personalised to meet individual learning support needs.

What does it cover?
An important thing to consider is how the funding can be used alongside all the other sources of support, learning activities and opportunities to help the child or young person achieve their learning outcomes. The learning outcomes that the child or young person hopes to achieve will be set out in their EHC plan and setting/school/college education plans.
A personal SEN budget could: add to existing learning support, providing a more consistent offer of support to the child or young person; fund time to bring all key parties together to bridge the gap between home and school/other learning provision and to build a team of dedicated support people (including family); fund some specialist input; fund work experience or a work-based learning opportunity; and add to the technology available to promote a student’s individual style of learning.

Further information