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Top Up High Needs Funding (HNF) is a new system of funding for mainstream schools and settings.  HNF is additional funding provided to support inclusion and meet the needs of children and young people with significant needs in mainstream schools and settings.  It has been designed collaboratively by the Local Authority, schools and settings, and parents, and aims to involve all stakeholders in the decision-making process. As HNF is for children and young people with significant needs, the needs outlined in the EHCPs are used to determine the level of top-up funding.

HNF is replacing Exceptional Needs Funding (ENF) and is designed to be a more effective system for identifying needs and resources. 

How will the changes to the funding system affect you?

For pupils with an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP):

If a pupil's needs are identified by an EHCP, this will also be used to help identify the resources they need, meaning no separate application for funding is necessary. The pupil's EHCP will instead identify what funding is needed for the school or educational setting to be able to deliver the specified provision in the EHCP.

For new EHCPs this started on 1 November 2020 with schools being asked to use the banding tool with parents for those assessments which reach week 15 of the process from 1 November.

For pupils with no Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP):

Parents, education providers and professionals will work together to identify a pupil's needs and determine what level of funding would be needed in order for a school or educational setting to fully support a pupil. If appropriate, nurseries and schools can apply for Local High Needs Funding (LHNF).

Possible changes to your current funding situation:

If your child has an EHCP but no ENF

 All EHCPs that did not receive ENF have been assessed and schools and nurseries have been notified of the outcome of this work, and asked to share the outcome with parents and carers.

If the assessment indicated that Top-Up (High Needs) Funding is not required:

Your next EHCP annual review may include a review of the banding if a significant change of need is identified in the review that is not already reflected in your existing EHCP. Further information on this process is available on the Hertfordshire Grid for Learning.

If Top-Up (High Needs) Funding is required:

Your school has been made aware of the banding and resources have been allocated to the school.

If your child has an EHCP and ENF

If your child has an EHCP and ENF, then their funding will be reviewed as part of their next EHCP annual review. This process look at your child’s needs. Please note that this started from 1 January 2021. ENF will remain in place until the EHCP is moved onto the relevant band agreed as part of the reviews.

Children and young people with ENF and an EHCP, where the ENF was due to end in 2021, will have their ENF extended until their next EHCP annual review date in 2021. The process for banding the EHCP at the annual review will be shared with schools and settings.

EHCPs are banded using the information in the EHCP. This means that it is important that schools and other professionals ensure that the needs of the child or young person are clearly and specifically identified.

Provision for children and young people who move into Hertfordshire with an EHCP will continue as specified on their EHCP while their EHCP is assessed for funding using the Hertfordshire funding model.

If your child has ENF, but no EHCP

Existing ENF cases will continue until their expiry dates. Schools will work with parents to decide how best to meet the child or young person’s needs under the HNF system once the ENF ceases.  If the identified needs of the child or young person meet the relevant criteria it  could be the case that application to the new local system (Local High Needs Funding or LHNF) for further funding or an Education, Health and Care Needs assessment needs to be completed.

Local High Needs Funding

We have a local version of Top Up High Needs Funding (HNF) in place, known as Local High Needs Funding (LHNF), that meets the emerging needs of children and young people and those with complex needs who do not have an EHCP.  It is managed locally within the nine different DSPL areas  and the decisions regarding the allocation of LHNF will be made by a panel managed by the DSPL manager.  

Applications for LHNF are now open and materials have been sent to schools and are available on The Grid. 

Next steps

  • A programme of ongoing training for all stakeholders (schools, settings, SEN officers and DSPL Managers) is being developed
  • A review of the system is now planned for the summer term of 2022 when the system will have been in place for a full financial year.
  • The system for converting ENF to HNF at Annual Reviews will be implemented and monitored
  • The system for reviewing banded funding at Annual Reviews will be implemented and monitored
  • A manual has been created that lets you know about all the documents, changes and processes for the new system.
  • A process for reviewing funding where there has been a significant change in need in a limited number of situations  was introduced on 1 January 2021. 

The reason for the change

We reviewed the way in which we currently meet complex needs in schools through ENF. Both nationally and locally, there is a rising need for support for pupils with complex needs in mainstream schools and educational settings. This has an impact on how we spend money we have across the education system. The review highlighted the concerns of education providers and parents/carers about ENF, and their views that children and young people are not getting the funding they need. The review is part of our commitment to make sure that funding is sustainable for schools and educational settings in the future so that they can fully meet children and young people’s needs.

If you have any questions or need more information, you can contact your child's educational setting, or your SEN Officer (if your child has an EHCP), or please email:

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