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Children and young people with special educational needs may get extra help if they find learning more difficult than their classmates.

Schools, colleges and early education providers give tailored support to children and young people with special educational needs (SEN). This is called SEN support.

Talking to your child's school about SEN support is a good first step if you think your child needs extra help.

 

How to get SEN support

Speak to someone at your child's school – that could be the:

  • Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO) – they're responsible for putting support in place for children with SEN
  • class teacher or headteacher.

The school might even contact you first if they think your child could use some extra support.

Typically, you'll meet to discuss any concerns and the way forward.

Before meeting the school you might want to...

...gather examples showing your child's difficulties. That could include:

  • school work and homework, school reports, test results

  • any professional reports

  • details of support they may have had at a previous school.

...write a list of your concerns. That might cover:

  • school work and behaviour at school

  • concentration, physical skills, relationships

  • behaviour and mood at home.

...write down any questions. For example:

  • What assessments have the school done to find out about my child's difficulties?

  • What extra help does my child get?

  • How do you measure my child's progress? Is he/she making the progress you'd expect?

  • What can I do at home to help my child?

...check the school's SEND Local Offer – the school or education provider's SEN provision information, reports and/or policies should be on their website.

What happens next

The school or education provider will assess your child's needs to determine the best SEN support available.

Create an SEN support plan

The SENCO will work with you to identify your child's needs and create a support plan. That includes what goals your child will work towards, who will work with your child and exactly how the school will support.

You should get a copy of the plan in writing.

If the school or education provider needs additional help to support your child, they can request support from specialist education and health services, for example, educational psychology or speech and language therapy.

School puts the plan into action

Your child’s teacher will often work with teaching assistants or specialist staff to put the plan into action. Everyone working with your child should be made aware of their needs and the plan's aims.

Review progress

You'll agree when to review your child's progress against the plan. You should meet at least 3 times a year (in addition to parents evenings).

The school or education provider should provide a progress report every year.

Next steps

If your child hasn't made reasonable progress, or you're unhappy with the support, it'll be important to agree what should happen next.

Sometimes it helps to involve other professionals in further assessment.

Your child’s needs might have changed or the support needs to change.

If your child's needs can't be met by SEN support, the next step might be to seek an education, health and care needs assessment. That will identify whether an education, health and care plan is required.

More about Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCP)

You might hear this 'assess, plan, do, review' process referred to as the 'graduated approach'.

Examples of SEN support

That support could include:

  • extra help from a teacher or teaching assistant

  • using different equipment

  • working with your child in a small group

  • helping your child take part in activities or trips

  • checking your child has understood things by encouraging them to ask questions

  • helping other children work or play with your child

  • supporting your child with physical or personal care, such as eating, dressing or going to the toilet.


Extra help like this is sometimes called "reasonable adjustments".

Many children and young people with SEN may also have a disability. For disabled children, reasonable adjustments could include things like providing wheelchair access, documents in Braille or assistive listening devices.

Our expectations

We'd expect an education provider, school or college to:

  • do everything they can to ensure your child has opportunity to progress and achieve their goals

  • support your child to take part in the same activities as their classmates

  • inform parents of any SEN support or assessments for their child

  • have access to a specialist autism lead, education psychologist and someone trained in mental health first aid

  • employ a qualified SENCO who is not the headteacher.

 

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