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SEND Inclusion Fund for early years children

Applying for funding

1. Eligibility- children  

  • The Early Years SENDIF is for 3- and 4-year-olds who are taking up any number of hours of free early education entitlement (FEEE). Children are eligible to receive funding in the term after they turn 3.
  • In Southwark we have extended the fund eligibility to include 2-year-old children who are in receipt of Disability Living Allowance.  
  • Those children who are not eligible to access this fund are children who are in receipt of 2-year-old funding but not in receipt of Disability Living Allowance, children with a completed Education and Health Care Plan (EHCP) and children who are in Reception class.

2. Eligibility- providers

All Ofsted registered early years providers in Southwark who are eligible to receive funding for the 3- and 4-year-old early education entitlement are also eligible to receive support from the SENDIF for children taking up their free entitlement.

Applications can therefore be made by:

  • An Ofsted registered nursery or pre-school from the Private, Voluntary and Independent (PVI) sector
  • An Ofsted registered childminder
  • A school where childcare falls outside of educational statutory provision
  • A school providing registered nursery provision or a nursery school.

3. What type of needs are considered for SENDIF?

Most children with SEND do not require specialist resources or additional staffing to be successfully included in settings. Most settings meet the needs of children with SEND very well from within their existing resources and through their own best practice.

A delay in learning and development in the early years does not always necessarily indicate that a child has a special educational need that calls for special educational provision. Similarly, difficulties related solely to learning English as an additional language are not considered a special educational need.

We (the Local Authority) will consider requests where there is information that a child has:

  • A difficulty in any of the four areas of SEN (Special Educational Needs) – these are communication and interaction, cognition and learning, social, emotional and mental health and sensory and/or physical needs
  • A medical condition that significantly affects their access to, or development in, one or more of the prime or specific areas of the EYFS in comparison to the expected outcomes for their age.

4. Types of support available from the SENDIF

Applications may be submitted to request the following:

  • Resources to support a child or children’s specific needs, for example visual aids, sensory or digital toys (tier one or group funding)
  • Staff training specific to the child’s needs, for example, Makaton, understanding autism and working with children with physical needs. This may be on-site training from a local SEND professional, or off-site external training by a reputable training provider (tier one or group funding)
  • A contribution towards enhanced staffing costs for those children with a higher level of need (tier two funding)

5. Making an application and the allocation of funding

  • Application forms and any additional paperwork should be sent to Application forms must be received by the agreed deadline. Any late applications will be automatically transferred to the following panel. Please see the SENDIF process map for a quick overview of the process from start to finish.
  • The Early Years Special Educational Needs and Disabilities panel (EY SEND panel) for the SENDIF meets every half term. The panel includes representatives from the Early Years Quality Improvement team, the Early Years Schools Advisory team, Inclusion and Monitoring team, SENDIPs (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Inclusion Practitioners) and Educational Psychologists.
  • The EY SEND Panel Terms of Reference will be followed at the meetings and are available on the Local Offer website.
  • The last panel of the academic year is the ‘forward planning’ panel. This panel is for applications for children who will be joining the 2’s (where eligible) and 3 and 4’s age group or remaining in these age groups for the following year. Applications for children who will be leaving to attend Reception in September will only be considered in exceptional circumstances on a case by case basis.
  • Decisions will be communicated to providers, in writing, within 7 days of the panel meeting. If funding has been agreed this will include information about the level of funding you will receive. In the case of higher-level funding this may also include information on what you may expected to do as part of the ongoing review process.
  • You must accept the funding decision of the SEND panel. If your funding request is declined, you have the option to apply again after a further term of information has been collected that suggests current resources and funding is inadequate to meet the needs of the child.  

Please refer to the Steps for making an application for guidance about applying to the SENDIF.

6. Group applications (docx, 1.5mb)

It is possible to make a group application for funding where there are several children with similar emerging needs that can be addressed as part of group activities.  Group applications may be made for up to 5 children but there must be at least 3 children. Children already in receipt of funding from SENDIF should not be included in group applications. Group applications are limited to a maximum of 4 applications a year per provider. Each group application should be for a different area of need to make the best use of the funding by providing a range of resources, training and interventions for the children. These should be based on the 4 areas of need, communication and interaction, cognition and learning, social, emotional and mental health, sensory and/or physical needs. Funding for group applications is a one-off payment of £2,000 (actual amount). Please apply using the separate application form that has been designed for group applications. (docx, 1.5mb)

7. Funding levels

The provision of funding from the SENDIF is a contribution towards the extra costs of meeting the needs of the child in your setting, such as the costs of providing resources or additional adult support. It will only be paid for the time the child or children are in your setting and up to an agreed period.

If a contribution is agreed by the EY SEND Panel, then it will be paid at the levels below:


Annual Amount


1 term of funding


Tier one funding



Tier two funding



Group application funding

One off payment 2240*

*Please take note of section 8 for actual amounts of funding

The scheme runs on an academic year basis. Funds will be paid on a termly basis with the exception of successful group applications which will be funded as a one off payment.      

8. Administration costs and actual funding amounts

The Early Years guidance from the DfE (Department for Education) requires the scheme to pass funding on a case-by-case basis. To do so requires a significant amount of administration. Schools Forum agreed approval to charge a 12% administration fee on each funding award to cover the cost of central administration. Considering this the actual amounts will be as below:


Annual Amount


12% Admin Fee


Actual Annual Amount


Actual Termly Amount


Tier one funding





Tier two funding





Group application funding

One off payment