beginners guide to SEND
All children learn at different rates. Children who have a lot more difficulty learning than most kids their age can be said to have SEND which stands for special educational needs and/or disabilities.
Some children’s special educational needs are clear from an early age; for others their difficulties become obvious when things don’t go as expected at school. For a few their needs arise suddenly, perhaps after an accident, or emerge at secondary school or even at college.
There are some children with medical conditions who don’t have SEN but do need extra support to be able to attend school and be safe and well while they are there (read more about support for children with medical conditions in School-aged children) And there are some disabled children who don’t have SEN but who may still need some reasonable adjustments, such as access arrangements, that the school has a duty to provide under the Equality Act – see Education complaints.
If you feel that your child has difficulties not fully recognised by their school or pre-school, or that they aren’t getting the help they need, speak to your child’s teacher, the special educational needs coordinator (SENCO) or the head teacher.
Many more resources have been moved to mainstream schools over recent years so that children can get extra support from within their local school, or from services that these schools can easily access (e.g. Brighton & Hove Inclusion Support Service or East Sussex’s ISEND Service).
- Assess – analyse what the child’s needs are.
- Plan – work out what support to offer and how. This could be a special programme of work, particular equipment, time with a teaching assistant or teacher individually or in a group. The planning should include the outcomes they expect to see from this support.
- Do – the pre-school staff, class teacher or subject teachers put the plan into action, supported by the SENCO.
- Review – look at whether the support is working. Revise the plan in consultation with parents and the child.
The idea is that this cycle keeps happening for as long as the child needs SEN Support and if they do not make the expected progress, things should intensify, perhaps bringing in expert advice to help assess in more detail or planning more or different support. As the parent you should be involved at every stage. A record of the support to be given and the outcomes that support is meant to achieve should be shared with you. There are no specific rules about how a pre-school or school should write this record, but at school you must also get an annual report on your child and a face to face meeting at least three times a year.
Children can get a significant level of extra help on SEN Support including one to one help for several hours each week if that’s what helps them best. Only a small minority of children move to the next stage: being assessed to see if they need an EHC plan.
Amaze produces fact sheets all about SEN Support in school
Next, the LA considers whether your child needs an EHC assessment. If appropriate, they will go ahead, involving you, your child and a range of professionals.
On the basis of this assessment the LA decides whether your child needs an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP). The EHCP is centred on their educational needs but also includes their health and social care needs. It sets out the help they should get to meet these needs and the outcomes (long and short term) that this help should lead to for the individual.
You can read much more detailed information about Education, Health and Care Plans in our section on EHC needs assessments and plans.