There may come a time when it becomes clear that the interventions required/in place for a child or young person cannot be met solely though the setting's resources.  If this point is reached then the setting may apply for Top Up funding. This page has information on Top Up in schools settings (up to year 13).


"Top Up" refers to High Needs Block Funding. This is an amount of funding available to educational settings who cannot meet the needs of a child/young person from their existing funds.

Find out about school funding.

The high needs funding system supports provision for pupils and students with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) from their early years to 25.

Department for Education, High needs funding: operational guide 2017 to 2018

The “Top Up” process is based on the graduated approach through the Assess, Plan, Do, Review cycle. This involves providing all the evidence of what's been tried so far, the costs and a review of its impact against expected progress.  

Find out about Top Up in Early Years.


To make a request for Top Up funding the following must apply:

  • The child/young person must be attending a registered Educational setting.
  • The setting must be able to evidence the use of a graduated approach to meeting the needs to the child/young person.
  • The setting must be able to show they have used the existing funding available to them to meet the needs of the child/young person.
  • The setting must be able to show they have used the existing suitable interventions available to them to meet the needs of the child/young person.
  • The setting must be able to show they have given sufficient time for the suitable interventions to work (usually at least 2 terms).
  • There must be evidence of parents/carers and young person views (if appropriate).
  • Applications must be recieved by the deadlines set for each round and the applications must have the paperwork required for decisions to be made (see below).


How are decisions made about Top Up?

Schools/settings can make applications twice a year if they feel there is a child/young person who would benefit from accessing High Needs Block funding (Top Up).  Schools/settings make applications and each of these applications are assessed by 2 different Top Up panels before a decision is made about whether additional funding is appropriate or not.  Top Up panels are made up of 3 people from the Local Authority and schools/settings (SENCos).  If both panels reach a different decision about an application a final moderation is made by a Local Authority staff member. 


If Top Up is agreed how much funding is allocated to a pupil?

How much funding is allocated to a pupil is based on the banding system in Bristol Universal Descriptors.  Once a band is agreed the funding amount is allocated as defined by the High Needs Band levels chart

Any additional costs for a pupils physical or sensory needs are costed seperately.

Funding is generally agreed for 1 or 3 years.


What happens if a pupil changes school?

High Needs Block funding (Top Up) is allocated to meet the needs of an individual pupil.  If the pupil changes school the funding allocated will follow the child.  When the funding period finishes (i.e 1 or 3 years) the school/setting must make an application to renew the funding.



TU 2.1 Top Up Guidance 2017/18

TU 2.2 High Needs Block funding letter from Paul Jacob

TU 2.3 New Funding Formula Top Up Funding

TU 2.4 Model Individual Provision Map 2016-17

TU 2.5 Code of Conduct SEN

TU 2.6 Supporting your decisions - Top Up Buff Sheet

TU 2.7 Moderation Panel Log SEN

TU 2.8 Key Questions Sheet for Top Up Panels

TU 2.9 Decision Making Sheet (RAG)

TU 2.10 Blank Pupil Details sheet - Top Up

TU 2.11 Annual Review Form SEN (with no statutory Statement or EHCP)

TU 2.12 Top Up Information for chairs



If you need any of these documents in a different format please contact us at


This page has information for residents in the City of Bristol.  Find out about what other Local Authorities do.

Last Update 5 May 2017 by Inclusion Service