Special Educational Needs Funding

Schools and other education providers in Cheshire East receive funding to support pupils with special educational needs through their delegated budget. This enables them to provide the SEN Support stage of the graduated approach. An overview of funding for SEND in educational settings is available in section 15 of the Cheshire East Toolkit for Inclusion.

It is up to each school/provider to decide how to spend their allocation for special educational needs. Some schools may choose to fund extra teaching or non-teaching staff to support pupils with special educational needs and/or use this funding to provide interventions and resources. Others may pay for additional time for the school’s Special Educational Needs coordinator (SENCO) to work with pupils. This funding will also cover the school’s duties around the provision of specialist equipment and aids.

Funding for EHC Plans

There is an additional allocation of funding (often referred to as ‘Top-up funding’) for children and young people with the most complex needs who have an Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plan. This is monitored through the EHC Plan at annual review meetings.

Following a successful pilot and a consultation, we are currently rolling out a new model to allocate and express top-up funding for individual EHC plans for children in mainstream schools.

The new model was developed by a High Needs Funding Working Group made up of school representatives, Cheshire East Council employees and Cheshire East Parent Carer Forum representatives.

What is the purpose of this change?

Under current arrangements, high needs top-up funding associated with an individual EHC Plan is expressed as a number of hours of support on each individual EHC Plan. However, feedback told us that using hours to express a total funding amount was confusing, as it doesn’t reflect how support is delivered in practice, or the many different ways someone can receive support to best meet their individual needs (such as small group work, or using specialised software or equipment for example).

Using the new model, the total top-up funding for each individual EHC Plan is allocated and expressed as a band with an associated financial amount.

How and when will the change take place?

We are moving to the new model during the 2023/2024 academic year using a staged roll-out.

All EHC Plans are reviewed at least annually. Once implementation starts for relevant year groups, existing individual EHC Plans will be moved to the new model at their next review.

  • For pupils in year 6 in the 2023/2024 academic year - we will start to move plans to the new model from 4 September 2023 (the start of the Autumn term of the 2023/2024 academic year).
  • For all other year groups - we will start to move plans to the new model from 8 January 2024 (the start of the Spring Term for the 2023/2024 academic year).

The table below shows how existing EHC Plans will be moved to the new model in line with their current funding total:

          Current model              New model

EHC Plans
Hours fromHours toHours (round up)BandTop-up amount
01200£ -
12.1 15 15 1 £1,700
15.1 18 18 2 £3,210
18.1 20 20 3 £4,230
20.1 22 22 4 £5,250
22.1 25 25 5 £6,800
25.1 28 28 6 £8,340
28.1 30 30 7 £9,370
30.1 32.5 32.5 8 £10,700

Note: hours are shown here only to demonstrate how the initial move to the new model will work for existing EHC Plans. There will be no reference to a funding total in hours in the new model going forward.

We are also listening to feedback and simplifying EHC Plan templates, meaning that there will be no ‘total allocated resources’ box or allocated funding band on individual EHC Plans going forward. You will receive a letter alongside each child’s EHC Plan which will provide the funding band associated with the plan.

The detail explaining and describing what Special Educational Provision (support) the child or young person will receive is in Section F of the plan. The format for the remainder of Section F, with detailed and specified provision, and all other sections will remain the same.

What does the change mean for individual children with EHC Plans

Upon receiving the Final EHC Plan (as a first plan or following a child’s review), you will notice that the total funding associated with the child’s plan is expressed as a band (instead of in hours) and that the allocated band is on the letter you receive alongside the final Plan (and not on the EHC Plan itself).

Under the new model, agreed provision will remain focused on meeting individual needs – as it is now. The proposals simply relate to how the total funding allocation is expressed for each EHC Plan.

Any changes to the provision listed within an EHC Plan would only be made during the usual review processes, and staff from the child’s school would therefore discuss this with parents/carers using the same process that is currently in place for reviews of EHC Plans.

The financial impact of the change in allocation model is intended to be neutral and sustainable overall.

Who should I speak to if I need further information

Parents/carers: If you have any questions about the funding model for EHC Plans, please speak to the Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO) in your child’s school in the first instance. The SENCO will also discuss this with you at your child’s next annual review meeting. If you have further queries, please send them to SENDpartnerships@cheshireeast.gov.uk and we will do our best to assist.

Schools: If you have any questions about the funding model for EHC Plans, or if you wish to discuss the change with a school involved in the pilot and working group, please contact SENDpartnerships@cheshireeast.gov.uk and we will do our best to assist.

Page last reviewed: 30 April 2024

Contact details

Email SEND Partnership

Find a service