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High needs funding (HNF) for schools

The High Needs Funding referred to on this page only applies for pupils with severe and complex Special Educational Needs in mainstream schools and does not apply to pupils with Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities (SEND) in Specialist Resource Provision, Special Schools or Pupil Referral Units.

‘Schools are not expected to meet the full cost of more expensive special educational provision from their core funding. The local authority should provide additional top up funding where the cost of the SEN provision required to meet the needs of an individual pupil exceeds the nationally prescribed threshold (£6,000).’ (SEN Code of Practice 6.99)

Criteria for High Needs Funding Applications
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  • The pupil will have an Education, health and Care Plan (EHCP) or be SEND Support with severe and complex needs.
  • The pupil will be on the school roll and in full time attendance (except in exceptional cases).
  • If the pupil does not have an EHCP, the school will have identified the pupil’s SEND needs with the support of external professionals.
  • The school will have fully utilised their normally available resources to address the needs of the pupil.
  • The pupil’s provision to meet their SEN Outcomes will be in line with the Personalised or Individualised Learning descriptors in the Kent County Council Mainstream Core Standards. (see above link for draft updated C&I, C&L and SEMH standards)
  • If the pupil doesn’t have an EHCP the school will have sought advice and further guidance from the district offer of support through LIFT as part of the ‘assess, plan, do and review’ cycle.
  • Recommendations from professionals will have been implemented and evaluated to evidence an increasingly personalised provision.
  • Training relevant to the need type of the pupil will have been undertaken by the school and suitably implemented within the last two years.

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To ensure the child meets the criteria above, schools will be expected to provide the following pre-existing evidence for all applications (new and renewals);
  • Previous two reviewed personalised or provision plans (SEN Code of Practice (CoP) recommends a minimum of three per year) that show the implementation of recommendations from professionals and the ‘assess, plan, do and review’ cycle. (For new pupils to the school; a copy of the transition plan and the last reviewed provision plan from the previous educational provider).
  • School provision map. (Only required once per academic year if more than one application or reapplication is made).
  • Present provision plan (example provision plan).
  • Risk assessment and/or Health Care Plan (if appropriate).

For new applications where the child doesn’t have an EHCP, schools will also be expected to provide the following evidence;

  • Reports that identify the SEN needs of the pupil.
  • Evidence of the use of the district offer eg. LIFT outcome sheet.

If the child has an EHCP this information would not be required.

For reapplications where the school feels there have been significant changes to the needs of the child since the last HNF application, they may wish to provide additional evidence as this may affect the funding level provided.

A criteria and evidence checklist is available to assist schools.

Application Costings
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Schools should try to only submit personalised or provision plans that exceed the £6,000 threshold and normal differentiation as would be expected for children with SEND.

If the school chooses to submit a costed personalised/provision plan, the local authority will not be able to guarantee that all the costed elements will be funded if parts of the provision are considered quality first teaching or the staffing levels aren’t appropriate for the CYP’s SEND needs.

The school’s total number of high needs funded pupils by need type will also be taken into account when considering an application. There will be an expectation that schools utilise group work for CYP with similar needs.

2023-2024 financial year hourly rates to be used when costing a plan are in keeping with the HNF application:

Teaching Assistant= £16.56
Higher Level Teaching Assistant= £19.30
Teacher= £46.82
SEND teacher= £52.74

Costs should be calculated for 38 weeks per year.

From April 2018, after the actual costs are calculated, a need specific graduated funding response will be applied.

Further information on the needs specific rates can be obtained from the HNF officer or by checking out the 2023/24 Rate table.

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Schools will need to register the Headteacher and SENCo to receive passwords to enable access to the application page.

The Headteacher will be the only member of staff who can submit the completed application form.

To register schools will need to provide the following information:

  • Name of school
  • DfE number
  • Name and email address of head teacher
  • Name and email address of SENCo.

Registration can be made by email to the High Needs Funding Officers in each area:

North Kent (Gravesham, Dartford, Sevenoaks)

HNF Officer: Rebecca Walsh
Telephone: 03000 42 20 01

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South Kent (Ashford, Folkestone & Hythe, Dover)

HNF Officer: Alison Sandford
Telephone: 03000 41 03 49

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East Kent (Canterbury, Swale, Thanet)

HNF Officer: Maria White
Telephone: 03000 41 46 30

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West Kent (Maidstone, Tonbridge and Malling, Tunbridge Wells)

HNF Officer: Nicola Hockney
Telephone: 03000 41 20 58

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Once registered temporary passwords will be sent to the email addresses provided by the school. These are only valid for 24 hours and need to be reset to a password of the individual's choosing on the application website

If a registered person does not login within this time they will need to request a temporary password when they initially access the application form (you will be prompted to do this on the homepage of the application form).

Once logged on, schools will need to add contact details of the Headteacher, SENCo and any other person who might be an appropriate contact regarding an application.

Once completed these details will appear on all future applications but can be updated at any time.

Apply Here
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High Needs Funding online application form

  • If an application has to be deferred due to the need for additional information from a school, there will be an expectation that this is provided within two weeks. (School holidays will also be taken into account). If the information isn’t provided in this time the application will only be backdated to the date the information is finally provided rather than the initial submission date.
  • As part of the agreement there may also be recommendations for accessing other sources of support. For example, staff training or resources. These will be checked in monitoring visits.

Parental Guidance
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In response to requests from schools, we have produced a High Needs Funding Guidance document for parents and carers that schools are welcome to share to help explain the process. The document is also available to parents or carers within the SEND Information Hub.

There is also an easy read guide to High Needs Funding for parent and carers.

The system is different for Post 16 education establishments, please see separate guidance on the High Needs Funding in Further Education page.

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As part of the application you will be expected to upload a copy of the pupil's personalised plan (pupils at SEND Support) or provision plan (pupils with an EHC Plan). Below are useful links to these documents.


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If you have any feedback you would like to give or have any queries about this page then please do visit our we want to hear from you page to find relevant contact details.