Country information for UK (Wales) - Financing of inclusive education systems

Funding for statutory age education in schools in Wales is mainly provided by the Welsh Government through the local government revenue settlement (Revenue Support Grant – RSG). The Welsh Government provides around 80% of funding to local authorities (LAs) in Wales. Education funding is not ring-fenced, as the Welsh Government considers that LAs are best placed to judge local needs and circumstances and to fund schools accordingly. LAs are then accountable to their electorates for the decisions they make. They must also co-operate with relevant stakeholders to draw up, on a three-year basis, an overarching mechanism to ensure co-ordinated provision of services for children and young people.

Once the RSG has been distributed to LAs, the individual authorities are responsible for setting budgets for their schools which are determined by a local funding formula. The School Funding (Wales) Regulations 2010 require that 70% of school budgets are set based on pupil numbers. Authorities have discretion to distribute the remaining 30% based on a range of factors so that they can account for individual school circumstances. 

Once funding is distributed, the head teacher and governing body of each school decide how to spend the school’s budget, taking into account their school’s individual needs and circumstances. The LAs provide support to learners with a statement of special educational needs (SEN), while schools are responsible for support services for learners without a statement.

LAs fund SEN provision through:

  • the delegated budgets they provide to schools;
  • funding retained centrally by the authority.

Delegated school budgets are the amounts of funding that each LA allocates directly to each individual school at the beginning of each financial year. These include a notional SEN budget, used to record the estimated amount within each nursery, primary, middle and secondary school’s budget that will be needed for SEN provision. The figure is set to zero for special schools, as it is assumed that all provision for such schools is SEN.

Expenditure related to the notional budget allocated to mainstream schools to support learners with SEN increased by 65% between 2010 and 2020. This would reflect the increased delegation rates to schools for SEN budgets rather than an overall increase in spend.


Last updated 03/05/2021

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